In the lead-up to London Marathon, there are so many great running events being held all over the city. One which I attended last night was a session on marathon nutrition hosted by Max Willcocks. Max is a seasoned runner, having won 100-mile events and once covering over 93miles on a treadmill in 12-hours to set an unofficial world record. As he stated at the beginning of the session Max ‘loves nutrition’ – more specifically carbohydrates, and spent an hour talking to us about how to fuel for everyday training and on race day.
I took a lot more away from the session than I was expecting. Typically when I read articles about nutrition for runners it is focussed around weightloss, rather than how to provide an adequate amount of fuel for the workload you are undertaking. Running is hungry work! Max took the time to explain a lot of numbers and percentages about how your body uses carbs and fats, and how to fuel to ensure you have an adequate supply.
The main thesis of the talk was that carbs are the best fuel source for runners. Carbs are stored in your muscles as glycogen, and this is what provides you the energy to run. If you eat a high-carb diet (60-70% carbs), you can increase the amount of carbs stored in your muscles, which then means you have more energy to draw on when running. The faster you run, the more reliant your body is on carbs as its fuel source, so it is beneficial to have as many carbs as possible available.
When it comes to running a marathon, you want to be taking in enough carbs per hour to cover the difference between the number of calories burned vs the carbs stored in your muscles. There were a lot of nice tables to illustrate how this could calculate dependant on your running speed, but in actual fact it will change from person to person based on fitness, size, intensity etc.. The most important thing, Max stressed, was to be regularly taking on carbohydrates, and not to be afraid of fuelling from the start-line to ensure that you have maximum energy available.
Many thanks to Max Willcocks, Saucony and SIS for the informative evening, and to Mile27 for hosting. They have a few more events on the line-up before London Marathon, so head to miletwentyseven.co.uk for details if you’re interested.
Most photos thanks to Mile27