Supporting Boston by Running Strong Marathons




Marathon season is upon the running community, and unfortunately it has started off in a tragic way. In the wake of the bombing at the Boston Marathon on Monday, many runners and other athletes are asking themselves “What can I do to help show my support for the people of Boston, the victims of the attack, and the competitive athletic community as a whole?” Some have donated blood to local hospitals or written words of encouragement on Facebook and Twitter. Others have decided to take to the streets for daily runs or races honoring the victims. And in the marathon runners’ community, many choose to show their support by continuing to train and compete in their upcoming races, not letting fear get the best of them.




For all of those who will be pounding the pavement this season, whatever your reason, take care to follow some basic nutrition guidelines during your training and race prep.  These recommendations don’t just apply to running—they’re relevant for all types of endurance exercise.

  • For exercise lasting > 1 hour, take along a drink and a snack, preferably something high in carbs and low in fat. Carbs are easily digested and provide the energy your muscles need, while high fat foods may give you a stomach ache.
  • Examples of appropriate snacks include pretzels, crackers, bread, jelly beans or other small candies, cereal, granola bars, and of course specialty sports bars. Just make sure that it’s something you can eat on the move!
  • If you choose a specialty bar, gel, or other brand name product, check the label to make sure it’s not high in fat. High protein items are also not necessary for mid-workout snacks.
  • Beverages can include water, juice, soda, or sports drinks. If you tend to get cramps, stick to water or something mild in flavor. Also remember that sugary drinks are a tasty and easy source of carbs!
  • Aim to consume 30-60g of carbs per hour during your workout, whether this comes from fluids or solid food!
  • Salt is not your enemy. Sweating removes some of the electrolytes from our bodies, including sodium (a.k.a. salt), and if they are not replaced then you might develop cramps or feel lightheaded.  Most people don’t need to take extreme replacement measures such as salt packets or tablets, but you might consider a snack or beverage that contains some sodium in it!
  • After a long workout, eat a snack or meal as soon as possible, preferably within the first hour after completing your exercise. See this post for more specific recommendations.

You may notice that these recommendations seem to contradict the popular nutrition principles of limiting sugar and sodium, and you’re right! Extreme endurance athletes have increased needs for some nutrients during their training, and sometimes these needs are different than those for the general public. For many athletes, following these guidelines will make the difference between a successful vs. unsuccessful workout.

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