New York City Marathon Week: Nutrition

One of the benefits of my partnership with Choose Cherries and the Red Recovery team is the opportunity to be working with Rebecca Scritchfield. I actually met Rebecca for the first time almost a year and half ago during the 2010 Healthy Living Summit in Chicago!

An inspirational dietician, Rebecca is a specialist in healthy weight management without dieting, Rebecca motivates her clients to change from within. But, what I love even more about Rebecca is that she is also an athlete. She was able to run a 4:20 marathon during Chicago’s brutal marathon last year and has completed numerous other marathons, half marathons, ultra marathons, trail races, and triathlons.  Therefore, she understands what a body needs in order to train for triathlons, marathons, and half marathons. 

Rebecca is heading up to New York City this weekend to run the New York City Marathon as part of our Choose Cherries team. We’re looking forward to catching up during our wait on Staten Island but until then, here are her answers to the questions I received from y’all and a few of my own. If you have any further questions for her, leave them in the comments section and I’m sure she’ll gladly reply! 

1)  Okay, I over did it on the Halloween candy and one too many drinks at parties this Halloween weekend. How do I get my body ready for Sunday’s marathon after this weekend’s slip? Let go of the past and focus on the future. You need carbohydrates and hydration most to build up your glycogen stores for the race. Be sure to get enough sleep as well.

2) What is the best way to handle fueling on Sunday? I’m not used to starting a long run at 10:40am and am not sure if I should eat two breakfasts or just wait to eat until 9:30? You should eat as soon as you wake up. You don’t want to miss a chance to fuel and you don’t want to start the race hungry. Have a banana and 10 oz. of tart cherry juice as soon as you wake up. Get dressed and get excited for the run. I would have pre-fuel around 8:30 a.m. Hey, you’re in NY so go for a bagel! Get a thin schmear of cream cheese. You definitely want to taste it, but you don’t need a lot of fat before a race.

3) Is there anything I should do differently this week diet/nutrition wise in preparation for the marathon? Avoid alcohol. You definitely don’t need that. If Halloween candy is still around, stick to one piece a day. I’d also make sure you’re getting great sleep so cut back on caffeine late in the day and go to bed earlier. Read, don’t sit on laptop or phone. The light keeps you from falling asleep.

4) How soon should carb loading begin this week?  Some people say it isn’t really needed while others suggest that by Friday I should be eating 80% carbs. HELP!? I’m a fan of carb loading. I do it by body weight 7-10 g/kg but it is so individual. You can easily get 70% carbs by eating two fists of carbs at each meal, plus using fruit, fruit juice, or honey with your meals. The Red Recovery Routine includes tart cherries and tart cherry juice to help you hit your carbohydrate targets, plus it has the anti-inflammatory benefits of tart cherries. You definitely need to reduce inflammation – marathon training is a lot of "wear and tear" inflammation on the body.

5) As an experienced marathoner, what are some of your top tips for readers running New York City Marathon this weekend? You will be fidgety on race morning. Bring extra food in case you need it. Dried fruit is great to munch on about 30-45 minutes before you are about to take off running (pack your dried cherries!) Wear your fuel belt obviously and stick to your hydration schedule. Don’t assume if it is cold you won’t get dehydrated. You are still sweating. Of course, have fun! You are healthy enough to be running in a challenging race. You worked hard to be here. Enjoy the moment and celebrate your journey.

6) Are there any foods I should avoid this week? Is it okay to eat fiber and vegetables like normal? If carbs are going up veggies may go down a bit. Go for starchier veggies and cook your greens so they don’t take up as much space in your belly. For example, add cooked spinach to your brown rice or pasta dish instead of having a huge salad on the side.

7) What would you suggest I eat immediately after the marathon and the following day? Are there any foods or supplements that can help with any residual pain? Well of course you need to go through the runner corral. Grab a few things that look good and start munching. If you have a curb crew meeting you, I’d definitely do the tart cherry juice and/or dried tart cherries ASAP for anti-inflammation and recovery nutrition. Keep up with the 10 oz. of tart cherry juice at least the next 3 days of recovery. And find an ice bath if you can!!!

8) As a dietitian and experienced marathon runner, do you have suggestions on what I can do ahead of time to help reduce the need for "bathroom stops" on marathon day? Relaxation and positive thinking / imagery – nerves trigger GI issues. Running your usual pace – getting too excited and going too fast can lead to fast GI. Avoid too much caffeine – don’t do more than you usually tolerate. Avoid too much sugar too fast. If you’re not "feeling great" don’t think downing a few gels is going to make you better fast. It’s going to increase GI distress. Personally, I try to keep fiber on the low side. Low fiber gives your GI a bit of a rest. I’ll be eating NY bagels, pretzels, and pizza on Friday!

9) Do you have any tips for the idle hours on Staten Island before the race? How do I keep my muscles ready and energy up? Sip on hot fluids. If you had your coffee, do decaf tea or even hot water! I’m going to bring "throw away" layers. Crews will pick up your clothes and donate them to charity. Bring sweatpants, sweatshirt, and gloves. Do light jogging, stretching, lunges – big body movements if you need to stay warm or just huddle with other anxious runners!

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  1. Misha November 3, 2011 / 9:20 pm

    Awesome tips!! I’m going to run my first Half next year and I needed this. I can’t wait until I run a full 26.2!!

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