Chanman's Blog

KP Half Marathon Countdown – Friday (2 days to go)

Posted in Coaching,Training Thoughts by Andy Chan on February 5, 2010

Water bottle for the runners at the 2004 Men's Olympic Trials Marathon in Birmingham, AL


If you want to spend time pondering nutritional things this week, think about:

  1. What are you going to eat race morning and at what time?
  2. Do you plan to take water at the water stops? If so, which ones? And do you have an idea of where these stops are located on the course?
  3. Do you plan to take the electrolyte replenishment fluid (Gatorade G2 Orange) that will be available around mile 6 and mile 10?
  4. Do you plan to ingest some sort of energy gel during the race?


There are as many pre-race food combos as there are runners. Do what your body is used to. Don’t try something new because it’s race day. What do you eat before you go for a morning long run? How much time does your body need to digest it? I personally eat very little before a race (half a Power Bar and water) and I try to finish eating two hours before the race starts. My wife needs to eat something a bit more substantial and doesn’t need as much time to digest. Do what is right for you.


You need to stay hydrated to keep running well. There are water stations around miles 3, 4, 6, 8, and 11.5. Taking water is a good idea and often it’s on a cold and wet day that people forget this. Don’t be one of those people. I suggest taking water from at least two of these stations if not more.


As the race progresses, even on a cold and wet day, your body is losing electrolytes via sweat. Maintaining proper electrolyte balance keeps the cells in your body communicating properly and is a key to preventing dehydration. It is said that electrolyte replacement becomes a factor after exercising for over an hour and a half. To replenish electrolytes Gatorade G2 will be available at two spots on the course (mile 6 and 11). I recommend sipping a little G2 as long as you are used to drinking something besides water during a run. G2 is advertised by Gatorade as containing 110mg of sodium and 30mg of potassium per serving (one serving equals 8 oz. or a quarter of a bottle) with just 20 calories (14 g of carbohydrates). If you are not used to drinking anything besides water, those carbohydrates in the G2 that may not sit well in your stomach.


During the first hour to hour and a half of the race your body produces energy from glucose in the liver and muscles, and the breakdown of fats. Thanks to the high glucose level in the bloodstream, fat metabolism occurs rapidly. But sometime around an hour and a half to two hours the glucose stores in the liver and muscles get depleted and the blood glucose level begins to drop. Fat metabolism still occurs, but because there is less glucose circulating around it occurs at a much slower rate. Pretty soon, if nothing is done to provide more fuel, you will run out of energy and experience the proverbial “hitting the wall.” To combat this runners often consume an energy gel mid-race*. Energy gels contain complex carbohydrates (glucose) in an easily and quickly digestible state. They enhance performance by raising your blood sugar and giving your body an immediate fuel source. Again, in a race of an hour and a half to two hours you may not require energy gels. You should know your body and whether you need it or not. As you get closer to two hours and further from an hour and a half you may benefit from a carbohydrate or sugar boost mid-race. But don’t try this if you haven’t done it in practice on the long runs. Any benefit from the gels may be countered by stomach distress.

*The race does not provide energy gels, so you’ll need to carry your own.


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