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Steve Born gives fueling seminars for Hammer Nutrition.
He is also an accomplished athlete holding two ultra marathon cycling records. This guy rides his bike 1,000 miles for the fun of it!
We asked Steve to give us a fueling overview. What should a runner do the week before, the morning of, during the race, and post-race?
Here is what he said . . .
Transcribed from the podcast
What to Do the Week Before the Race
The week before and the night before the race I would not deviate from what got me there in the first place. I have seen far too many athletes, and I’m guilty myself, the week before the race double or triple their food intake and salt everything in sight –like “Hey I’m a camel! I can store all this!”
The week before the race there is nothing you can do to enhance your fitness at that time. It’s too late. Why deviate from what got you there by drastically increasing your fuel consumption?
The enzyme that controls glycogen storage –the first fuel that your body is going to use when the race begins – is only active during a very short timeframe after a workout. So true carbo loading is not what you do the night before the race but what you do between the zero to 60 minutes after your workouts leading up to the race. That’s when your body is most receptive to taking your carbohydrate intake, converting it into glycogen, storing it in the liver and muscles, and building up reserves.
What to Do the Morning of the Race
That’s an interesting topic. We wrote an article about pre-exercise/ pre-race fueling and it has by far generated the most skepticism. Here is the premise of it:
Muscle glycogen is the first fuel your body is going to tap into when you begin a race. The fitter you become and the more consistent you are with post-workout refueling, your body can store somewhere between 60-90 minutes worth of this premium fuel.
If you eat too close to the start of the race (like 1-2 hours prior) you will burn through those hard earned stores of muscle glycogen at a much more rapid rate. Instead, we recommend fasting for 3 hours prior to the start of the race. That allows insulin and all of its hormonal influences to go back down to base line. That allows your body to be in a state where it utilizes those finite stores of glycogen most efficiently.
What to do During the Race
This depends on the duration of the race. If you’re in that 3 to 3 ½ hour range – I think carbs only is fine. Hammer gel for calories, water for hydration, and Endurolytes for electrolytes is all you need. Will you be producing a little fatigue causing ammonia? Yes, but by the time that really becomes problematic the race is long done.
If you’re going to be out there for 4-5 hours or more you want protein in your fuel mix to help prevent your body from tearing down the lean muscle tissue to make energy. That’s where a fuel like Sustained Energy or Perpetuem comes in.
What to Do After the Race
I’m so zealous about post workout and post race refueling. That’s your way of telling your body, “I understand that I’ve drained you”. Your lean muscle tissue can get stronger or take forever to repair. If you don’t [refuel] as soon as possible you won’t be able to store glycogen more efficiently. That’s where Recoverite comes in. Take it ideally in the 30-60 minutes after all your workouts and definitely after the race. Then go enjoy your post race comfort food.
Listen to the podcast episode to hear all the questions we asked Steve about fueling during marathon training.
Also Mentioned in this Episode
Angie and I have been really happy with our Saucony Kinvara jackets – courtesy of the Screaming Pumpkin Marathon. They are light weight, breathable, warm, reflective, and pocketed. Is “pocketed” an adjective?