Half vs. Full Marathons: Fueling differences?

Half vs. Full Marathons: Fueling differences?

Q. I am new to running and am training for my first half-marathon. Is there a difference between fueling for a half-marathon vs. a full 26.2-mile marathon?
A. One difference relates to burning about 1,300 calories (half-marathon) vs. 2,600 calories (full marathon). The marathoner also has an easier chance of becoming dehydrated, might need more sodium, and perhaps wants a caffeine-boost along the way.

Before either the half or the full marathon, you will want to eat wisely. The calories in your pre-event meal will last for about 60 to 90 minutes.

If you plan to finish the half-marathon in about two hours, you will only need to consume about 100-200 calories during the event to main normal blood glucose levels and energy. (This assumes you have eaten a 500- to 600-calorie breakfast (bagel + peanut butter + latte) and have had an adequate dinner the night before.)

When you become a marathoner, however, you will need to stay energized for an additional 2 to 4 hours for the lst 13.1 miles of the marathon. You will want to  target about consuming about 200 to 300 calories per hour after the first 1 to 1.5 hours. You will needs to figure out a fueling plan that will provide easily digested calories (gels, gummy candy, dates, energy bars, chomps, animal crackers, etc.) without getting “sugared out” (too much sugary sports drink, too manysweet gels — to the point of nausea). You will also have to drink enough water or sports drink to prevent dehydration.

For more information, please refer to my Food Guide for New Runners: Getting It Right From the Start.

Written by Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD

Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD is an internationally respected sports nutritionist, weight coach, nutrition author, and workshop leader. She is a registered dietitian (RD) who is a board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). She is also a certified WellCoach. Nancy specializes in nutrition for performance, life-long health, and the nutritional management of eating disorders. She counsels both casual exercisers and competitive athletes in her private practice in the Boston area (Newton, MA). Some of her clients consider her to be their food coach, others their food therapist. Regardless, she enjoys the challenge of helping sports-active people transform their suboptimal eating habits into effective fueling plans. Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, a best-selling resource, has sold over 550,000 copies and is now in it's new fifth edition.
Website: http://www.nancyclarkrd.com

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