RIGHT FOOT OUT #4 – SHARPENING FOR THE FINAL SURGE
Philip our running Guru is back for the second last of his 5 part running training series that will lead you up to the Standard Chartered Marathon!
Previously we learned how incorporating some higher intensity work, especially in the form of HIIT, can elevate your fitness to a higher level. With about 7-8 weeks left to the marathon, its important you start engaging in race specific preparations & nutrition strategies for that final victory.
Pace Sharpening: The decisive long runs
Contemporary science concluded that cramps or early fatigue during the marathon have nothing to do with dehydration or the loss of sodium. The possible main cause can be linked to the lack of race pace* specific long runs. Besides gradually increasing your long runs from 25km to about 35km, these runs should be executed at the desired race pace i.e. if you are aiming for a 4:30 marathon finish, your long runs should be done at 9 – 9.5 km / hr. At least 4 – 5 sessions of race pace long runs should be engaged. Remember, if you don’t train at race pace, you can’t race at race pace.
*Your desired race pace has to be realistic & sustainable for the marathon. If your recent 10-km race pace is 10 km / hr, it is very difficult to maintain a 9km/hr race-pace for the marathon.
Carbo-loading 101: Why do it (Applicable only to those attempting the marathon)
The concept of carbohydrate (CHO) loading has been mystified by stuffing oneself with plenty of pasta. But why do we CHO-load in the first place ? CHO & fat serve as sources of fuel for the body during exercise. While CHO is the preferred source, the body’s storage capacity of it is limited. However, with endurance training, this capacity can increase by as much as 30%.
Imagine your original storage capacity to be the size of a hotel bar fridge; you can only keep limited CHO in it. After several months of consistent training, it has now enlarged to the size of an industrial-size EMPTY fridge. Your role is to fill it up via CHO-loading.
*Transforming from a bar fridge to an industrial fridge with consistent training*
Carbo-loading 101: How to do it
1) The loading process typically requires 3 days. Hence if your race is on Sunday morning, the loading starts on Thursday.
2) For the first 2 days, consume 6-8g/kgbw# (bodyweight) & 8-10g/kgbw of CHO on the third day. Hence if you weigh 70kg, you should be consuming 560 – 700g of CHO on the 3rd day.
3) Minimize fat & protein intake.
4) Utilize simple CHO sources (i.e. soft-drinks, candies, puddings, etc). This will reduce the fiber intake which makes you feel full. And honestly, how much rice and pasta can you consume?
5) A successful loading is marked by a 2 to 3kg increase in bodyweight. Fear not, this is mainly water weight as 1g of CHO traps 3g of water.
# Learn how to read food labels to accurately calculate the amount of food you need to consume for CHO-loading.
Nutrition / hydration strategies on race day
1) Have a CHO-rich (50-80g) breakfast 2 hours before the race. Consume low-fiber / fat food to allow easy digestion .
2) During the race, aim to consume 30-60g of CHO / hr. This can come in the form of sports drinks or energy gel to allow rapid digestion. Solid food (i.e. banana) is usually discouraged.
3) Drink to thirst; never attempt to force yourself to drink if you don’t feel like drinking. It’s a sign that you probably had enough. If you are not thirst, DON’T drink.
4) Dehydration does NOT i) weaken your running performance, NOR 2) cause cramps. Over-hydration or drinking too much (water or sports-drink) can lead to a fatal condition known as Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia (water intoxication).
5) Practise your race nutrition plan (i.e. the type of food, timing of intake, etc.) during your long runs. Do NOT try anything new during the race.
A good training program will let you stand confidently at the starting line. A sound race strategy and nutrition plan will let you end strong. Celebration will start upon crossing the finishing line but do not neglect your post-race plan. In our final instalment, learn how to transit safely to the “off-season” of your running calendar & prepare for a new running year ahead.
Written by Philip Tan of The Running Guild
Philip is an Exercise & Performance Scientist with Running Guild who specializes in optimizing the performance of endurance athletes. With his motto “for sports, for science, for service”, Philip left his career at a local hospital several years ago to go out & bridge the gap between science and man while constantly encouraging others to challenge beliefs and practices to seek out scientific truth.