Hydration & Nutrition


  • Mapping out your Nutrition

So you’ve signed up for the 5k, 12k, half marathon or full 42.2k for this years Auckland Marathon, and regardless of whether you are planning on running, racing, walking, skipping or something in between – many of you will log countless kilometres, on the road, the trails and treadmill, to get ready.  You will foam roll, massage and visit your physios, trainers and massage therapists - but will you have prepared nutritionally?

Good nutrition should be part of your training plan from the outset, not something you start to do in the weeks leading up to the race.

  • Training Nutrition

The number of calories you need to consume daily will depend on the duration and intensity of your workouts and in part to your current body composition. However, keep in mind that you'll burn approximately 80-100 calories for every kilometre you run, depending on your size (and effort). If you run five kilometres, you'll burn approximately 400 calories more than you would have if you hadn't exercised.

You'll want to eat enough so you have enough energy to complete your scheduled trainings and you don't feel faint or weak toward the end of your workout, but don't use running as an excuse to eat everything in sight. And whatever you would like to believe, unless you're a high-mileage runner (and we mean high), your daily calorie needs are actually not going to be much higher than a non-runner's. That’s why we recommend getting a tailored nutritional program for your specific needs.   

Timing of your meals is key, and just about as important as what you eat to maximise the benefit of your training and nutrition. Within an hour of finishing your run (and ideally within 30 minutes), you should refuel with a high quality snack. Your post-run snack should contain carbohydrates, protein and a small amount of healthy fats. For example, a slice of whole-grain toast with Almond butter and half a small banana, or some fruit with half a cup of yogurt. The goal is to replenish your glycogen stores so you can be ready for your next workout.

In addition to getting the kilometres logged and you fit for race day, training provides you with the opportunity to practice your fluid-replacement strategies. You're going to need to drink regularly during long races (half-marathons and marathons) and, in warmer weather or shorter races. Experiment with hydration during your training runs. Learn whether you are better at drinking on the go, or do you prefer to stop running, take a few sips, and then get moving again? Practice with Powerade on your longer runs if you have not before as they are on the drink stations for Auckland Marathon or if running the shorter distances you might prefer to stick to water – but have a plan. Use your training runs as dress rehearsals for race day. It is common for runners to get upset stomachs, so practice different fuel options to ensure you are not one of those with a tummy upset on the day.


  • As Race Day Approaches

Start adding more complex carbohydrates to your diet. High quality complex carbohydrates will give your muscles and brain the fuel they need to get through the race. Complex carbohydrates (rather than your refined, highly processed foods – so no, it is not time to carb load on hot chips, instant noodles and white bread), found in all plant-based foods, take longer for the body to digest than simple ones and are available as stored energy for use when needed. Whole-grain bread, oats, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and vegetables are all good sources of complex carbohydrates.

  • Drink Lots of Water

Drink lots of water, you should be drinking at minimum 2 litres a day plus an additional 500ml for every 30 minutes of exercise. Being even slightly dehydrated can leave you feeling sluggish, so make sure you're getting plenty of fluids. During long training runs, you should drink water every 20-30 minutes or more often as needed. We recommend carrying a water bottle with you wherever you go, keep one at your desk at work, in your car – to make sure you never go thirsty.

  • The Night Before

Don't experiment, stick to what is tried and tested – hopefully practiced prior to long runs before. While we all love to try new foods and taste new flavours, it's best to stick with what's familiar and what works for you the night before the race. If you had a lamb and kumara salad the night before your last successful long training run, don't try something heavy and different on this night. A new food could upset your stomach or leave you feeling "off."  This happens more often if you have had to travel to a race, if you are travelling to Auckland for the marathon, either try and cook your own dinner the night before or organise to go to a restaurant that will prepare something simple for you.

Eat a nutritious meal composed of whole grains, grilled or steamed vegetables or a salad and a small amount of protein such as grilled chicken, fish, or lean red meat. But, stick with to what works for you, If you are unsure, we recommend getting a tailored nutritional plan.  And remember to keep your water intake up.

  • Morning of Race

Eat a healthy breakfast at least 2 ½-3 hours before the race. You want to top off your energy stores without eating something that will feel heavy in your stomach. Some good options include Oats or cold cereal with milk, or toast, nut butter with banana or some low-fat yogurt. Just remember to go with what's familiar and has worked well for you in training. Drink water to stay hydrated.

Avoid fatty foods that could make you feel nauseated, full, or lethargic. You don't want your body wasting energy on digesting something heavy. There is mixed research on caffeine, however if you're used to doing so, have a cup of coffee. Caffeine can make your run seem easier, but beware: it can also stimulate and upset your digestive system.  So once again, if you have had coffee on your long runs and it has worked, then feel free to continue with this for race day.

After the Race

  • After the Race

Drink Powerade to replace electrolytes, the sodium, and the potassium that you burned off during the race. Bananas are handed out at the finish line, drink a chocolate milk, or other food source with a little natural sugar to start stabilising your blood sugar levels and aid recovery. You may not feel hungry after the race, but it is important to consume something — even if it's just a sports drink — to avoid fainting and aid recovery. When you can, you do want to have something with protein, carbohydrate and good fats to allow the body to refuel.  

However, you do not want to eat a large meal straight after the race as your body has been strained and overeating may nauseate you. So however tempting it might be to head to the pub with your friends and family for that celebratory brunch, don't overindulge until you're sure you can stomach a large amount of food. Do go easy on the alcohol. It might be tempting to toast your new personal best with a couple of drinks, but be aware that alcohol causes dehydration and you will get drunk faster if you drink after a race. So keep drinking plenty of water. And perhaps celebrate with a well-deserved massage. 

Let your body recuperate, congratulate yourself – you’ve just finished the 2016 ASB Auckland Marathon event. Always consider your specific nutritional running needs and we recommend getting a tailored nutritional plan to ensure your personal requirements are met.