London Marathon preparation, nutrition, hydration and recovery

Luis Ribeiro, one of the UK’s leading physiotherapists and founder of London’s exclusive Club Health, gives his top tips about marathon preparation and post run exercise.

When it comes to a marathon, a comprehensive approach to physiotherapy should be considered, including a well-designed nutrition and conditioning plan to prevent overtraining and optimise performance. Proper nutrition and hydration before, during and after the marathon are critical to sustaining energy levels, maintaining adequate glycogen stores and preventing dehydration and fatigue. 

Additionally, pre-rehabilitation exercises that target specific muscle groups, such as the quadriceps, hamstring and calf muscles, can help reduce the risk of injury and improve overall muscle performance. Proper recovery strategies, including rest, stretching and massage therapy, can also aid in muscle repair and prevent post-marathon soreness. 

In summary, a well-planned nutrition and conditioning approach is essential for optimal performance and injury prevention in preparation for the London Marathon. Continue reading for a complete breakdown of Club Health’s expert tips for Marathon training, nutrition and recovery.

THE MARATHON PREPARATION

Proper Nutrition

Proper nutrition is essential for runners to perform at their best. It is recommended that runners consume a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats. Complex carbohydrates, such as homemade whole-grain bread, pasta, and rice, provide long-lasting energy to sustain the runner throughout the race. Lean protein sources, such as lean red meat, fish, and tofu, help repair and rebuild muscle tissue. Healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, and avocados, help regulate hormones and provide energy.

Overeating can lead to digestive problems and weight gain. It is essential to eat in moderation during Ramadan. Studies have shown that Ramadan fasting can lead to weight loss, but overeating during Iftar can offset this effect [4][5]. Break your fast with dates and water, and then have a light meal. Eat slowly and chew your food properly, as it helps to digest the food properly. Avoid fried and fatty foods, as they can cause digestive problems.

Adequate Hydration

Proper hydration is crucial for runners to perform at their best. Runners should consume at least 2-3 litres of water per day, starting a few days before the race, and continue to hydrate during the race. It is recommended that runners consume liquids which will replenish lost electrolytes and prevent dehydration i.e. Green tea, coconut water or electrolytes tablets.

Following a Personalised Training & Conditioning Plan

When it comes to preparing for a marathon, seeking guidance from a professional Strength and Conditioning Practitioner can make a significant difference. While there are plenty of online off-the-shelf training plans available, they are often generic and do not take into account an individual’s specific physical condition, medical history, and fitness goals. 

A strength and conditioning Practitioner has the necessary expertise to design a personalised training plan that takes into consideration these factors, ultimately reducing the risk of injury and ensuring optimal performance. Additionally, they can monitor and adjust the training plan as needed to ensure continuous progress and safe, effective marathon preparation.

A well-planned conditioning program can help prevent overtraining and optimise performance. Runners should focus on building their cardiovascular endurance by gradually increasing their mileage and incorporating interval training into their routine. It is recommended that runners incorporate strength training exercises, such as squats, lunges, and deadlifts, to help build muscle and prevent injury.

THE MARATHON RACE

Hydration

Proper hydration is crucial during the race to prevent dehydration and optimize performance. It is recommended that runners consume during the race to replenish lost electrolytes and prevent dehydration

Fuel

Runners should consume carbohydrates during the race to provide energy and prevent fatigue. It is recommended that runners consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour during the race. Runners can consume carbohydrates in the form of gels, liquids, or energy bars.

Pacing

It is essential to pace oneself during the race to prevent overexertion and optimise performance. Runners should start the race at a comfortable pace and gradually increase their speed as the race progresses.

THE MARATHON RECOVERY

Recovery

Proper recovery is essential to prevent injury and optimise performance in future races. Runners should focus on full ROM mobility and release (foam roller, ball, percussion tool) to help reduce muscle soreness and prevent injury. It is recommended that runners consume a post-race meal rich in carbohydrates and protein to help replenish lost glycogen and repair muscle tissue.

Hydration

Proper hydration is crucial after the race to replenish lost fluids and prevent dehydration. It is recommended that runners consume at least 2-3 litres of water per day after the race.

Rest

Rest is essential after the race to allow the body to recover and prevent overtraining. It is recommended that runners take a few days off from running and focus on low-impact activities, such as swimming or cycling, to help reduce muscle soreness.

PREVENTING OVERTRAINING

Overtraining syndrome is a maladaptive response to excessive exercise that can lead to a variety of physiological and psychological symptoms, including impaired athletic performance, fatigue, mood disturbances, and increased susceptibility to injury. 

To prevent overtraining, athletes should adhere to a carefully planned training schedule that includes adequate rest and recovery periods. It is crucial to monitor training intensity, volume, and frequency and adjust them accordingly based on individual fitness levels, training goals, and physiological responses. Gradual progression of training load, including mileage and intensity, is essential to prevent injury and overexertion. In addition, incorporating cross-training activities, such as swimming or cycling, can help reduce the risk of overuse injuries by providing alternative forms of exercise that target different muscle groups while allowing for active recovery. Overall, a comprehensive training plan that incorporates appropriate exercise and recovery strategies is crucial to achieve optimal athletic performance and minimise the risk of overtraining.

BEDTIME NUTRITION

Optimising recovery and preventing muscle breakdown is crucial for runners, and proper bedtime nutrition is a key component of this process. Consuming a high-protein snack before bed can help stimulate muscle protein synthesis and support overnight muscle recovery. Bedtime snack options should include high-quality proteins with complete essential amino acid profiles, such as whey protein, casein, or plant-based protein blends. 

Additionally, consuming carbohydrates alongside protein may enhance the anabolic response to feeding by increasing insulin secretion and promoting muscle glycogen repletion. Good carbohydrate sources for bedtime snacks include fruits, whole grains, or low-glycemic index options. As such, runners are encouraged to incorporate high-protein and low-glycemic index snack options into their bedtime nutrition routine to promote optimal recovery and prevent muscle catabolism.

Physiotherapy with Clinical Director Luis Ribeiro | Club Health

SEEKING THE RIGHT PROFESSIONAL HELP

If you experience any pain or injury during your marathon training or race, it’s important to seek professional help. A qualified Physiotherapist or Sports Massage Therapist can help diagnose and treat any injuries and provide guidance on how to safely return to running.

GETTING THE WIN

To get the win in a marathon, it takes a combination of proper nutrition, conditioning, and mental preparation. Proper nutrition provides the body with the necessary fuel to sustain the runner throughout the race. Conditioning helps prevent injury and optimise performance. Mental preparation helps the runner stay focused and motivated during the race.

In addition to the physical and nutritional aspects, mental preparation is also essential. Runners should practice visualization and positive self-talk to help stay focused and motivated during the race. It is recommended that runners set realistic goals and have a race plan to help stay on track.

In conclusion, preparation for a marathon necessitates a comprehensive nutrition and conditioning plan. Proper nutrition, hydration, and conditioning serve as preventative measures against overtraining and are critical for optimising performance. Bedtime nutrition and mental preparedness are also fundamental factors to consider. By implementing these recommendations, runners can enhance their probability of success in the London Marathon and other endurance races. It is advisable that runners seek guidance from our team of medical professionals to formulate an individualised care plan tailored to their unique requirements and objectives.

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