Marathons and endurance races have become extremely popular in recent years. Most races are hosted by certain charities or other local or community organizations. These races push the body to the limit, with proper hydration and nourishment being vital to preventing the body from cramping or shutting down.
During these long races the body burns through nutrients rapidly and depletes every single energy store, making it crucial to replenish and provide the body with “quick burning carbohydrates,” such as any soft sugary candy (licorice or gummy bears), chocolate, beer, fruit drinks, or any other form of high-calorie foods (pretty much anything that you are normally supposed to avoid). Likewise, cold beer and pizza is often awaiting runners at the finish line as a refreshing and filling source of carbs. These foods provide the body with quick energy that fuels the body to help prevent cramping.
I ran the Wichita, Kansas Marathon back in 2008 and it was one of the hardest, but most fun things that I’ve ever done. I went through a four-mile stretch between the 18-mile and 22-mile markers without the intake of any calories (every booth between these miles only contained water) and my body pretty much shut down. Every muscle in my body started cramping, but I finally made it to a booth with candy, fruit drinks, and beer (go figure). I didn’t drink the beer, but I indulged in the candy and fruit drinks to load my body with calories and electrolytes. I managed to finish the marathon with a time of 3:23, but my entire body was sore for a week (I was upset because I missed the Boston Marathon qualifying time of 3:10).
Be sure to indulge in sweets and high calorie snacks if you are participating in any races longer than a hour or more. While aid stations often have snacks for runners, that isn’t always the case. In a runner’s pack or small pocket, carry a pack of Gu Energy, a Lara Bar or a package of fruit snacks for a mid-race pick-me-up.
If you were looking for an excuse to indulge, here it is!