Make sure you are hydrated and have eaten well for at least twenty-four hours before a long run because this will help your performance and reduce injury risk. Drinking plenty of water and having a little bit of extra salt in your diet can be a good idea but be careful with too much extra salt, particularly if you have high blood pressure, kidney problems, diabetes or any other medical conditions. Ask your GP if you are not sure.
If you don’t provide your body with adequate calories and hydration on a long run, you will start to run slower and feel tired and sluggish. Eventually your body will force you to stop by feeling dizzy or even fainting which can be dangerous. However, drinking too much water can cause the brain to swell and can be fatal so make sure you don’t drink too much.
What you need to eat and drink will be different to the next person. It will be affected by the temperature and how intensely you are training. It is therefore essential that you listen to your body and learn what you as an individual need.
There are different ways to get your fuel. Some people like to have small snacks like sandwiches, fruit, biscuits or sweets to nibble on along the way. Others prefer to go for energy bars, drinks or gels but these can cause stomach upsets so make sure you try them out well before the marathon.
Your choice of hydration will depend on the method that you take in your calories. If you are eating food containing salt or drinking energy drinks containing electrolytes, then these will probably be enough. However, if you are sweating a huge amount then you may need to supplement with specific electrolyte drinks. Make sure you learn what your body needs in advance of the marathon.
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