Running a half marathon is no joke, it requires a physical and mental state prepared for it, and nutrition is also an essential part if you want to keep your body as well prepared and nourished as possible.
When we talk about a half marathon, we are talking about running a rounded distance of 21 kilometers (21.097 km). People who show up to run that distance do so because they have been training previously and want to face this type of challenge.
It is a physical activity that requires a lot of effort, so burning calories is important, so people who train and prepare to run a half marathon are careful with their diet, controlling the nutrients and amounts they ingest, otherwise, they would lose weight and muscle mass during the process.
Below we are going to give you the steps on how to fuel yourself to run a half marathon, so that you prepare your body both inside and out, and successfully reach your goal.
To begin with, keep in mind that it is an exercise that requires a lot of effort and that it consumes a lot of calories, so the fundamental basis of the diet will be to increase the number of calories consumed, but always in a healthy way and following precise guidelines, and of course in an intelligent way.
The diet we follow to prepare to run a half marathon should be between 2500 and 2900 calories (depending on sex, complexion, etc.) of which we will need:
between 375 and 475 grams of carbohydrates, between 60 and 85 grams of fat, and between 75 and 90 grams of protein.
The intake of five meals a day for a balanced diet is also maintained when we talk about eating to run a half marathon. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be the hearty meals with the highest calorie intake, and mid-morning and snack will be the mini meals that will complete the necessary nutrients, and that will also prevent us from arriving at the main meal with a voracious hunger.
To make the physical effort required to run a half marathon, it will be necessary to increase the amount of fuel in our body, and this is achieved by increasing the intake of complex carbohydrates, with foods such as rice, oats, pasta, corn, legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas, etc.), whole grains, wholemeal bread, or wheat bran. These will be the nutrients responsible for providing our body with the energy it needs. Considering their function, it is best to eat these foods for breakfast, mid-morning, and lunch. However, you could have some cereal for dinner.
Proteins are responsible for repairing and building structures in our body, which is why they are important in the diet, but you should keep in mind especially in this case that they must consist of proteins of vegetable origin or that come from lean meats (low in saturated fats) such as chicken or turkey.
Saturated fats are heavily restricted. Completely avoid industrial pastries and, of course, fatty foods or foods cooked with a lot of oil or fried. Always choose plant-based fats, such as olive oil, as well as oily fish such as salmon, sardines or tuna. In addition, the omega 3 in these fish prevents your defenses from dropping due to constant effort. And fruits like avocado.
Calcium will also be necessary in your diet, as it is responsible for preventing the deterioration of bones caused by the effort and wear and tear that comes with training and running. This will strengthen your bones. Take about 1500mg/day of calcium. For example, by drinking milk and low-fat yoghurts, as well as fresh cheeses. (This way you also control your fat intake.)
The last few days (two or three days) before the race you should increase your carbohydrate intake. Also remember that on the day you will run the half marathon, your last meal should be up to three hours before the race, so that your body has time to synthesize nutrients and you can manage to last the entire route. You shouldn’t overdo it with the food, you just need to be satisfied. Although, during these hours you could eat some fruit with a lot of sugar, such as bananas, which will also provide you with energy or be part of your energy reserves.
During the race, you’ll need to stay hydrated. If not, your performance will drop and you may not be able to make it to the finish line. Drink plenty of water, but if you see that you are running out of energy, you may prefer to drink an energy drink or a sugar drink. In addition, while training it is also necessary that you maintain a good level of hydration, especially by drinking at least one and a half liters of water a day.
Remember that each person is different, so as you go on the diet you will realize which foods help you improve your performance and which don’t, so pay attention so that you benefit from them.
In summary, the keys to eating to run a half marathon lie in following a smart diet based on increasing carbohydrates, reducing fats and taking protein in moderation. So, you can start preparing to run your half marathon.