To the finish line

The Mumbai Marathon is just a month away (January 19, 2014) and runners from around the world are gearing up for the day.


While some experienced athletes have been training for years, there are those others who have been running for the last few months, or even weeks. No matter where you are in your training schedule — in the middle of a months-long program or just thinking of starting out — we get experts to share some wisdom in this final month of practice.


Eat right

The most important aspect of training this month is nutrition. “Runners require a high-energy diet that is rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. Adequate carb intake leading up to the race, and also during the event, prevents severe fatigue,” says Dr Niti Desai, diet consultant and nutritionist. You can tank up on complex carbs before the race by including rice, pasta, rotis, bread and small quantities of proteins — ideally cooked in multi-seed cooking oil — in your meals. This is also not the time to try out that new fad diet or binge on all the sweets and rich foods at those weddings you might be attending. “Don’t try anything new and don’t make any drastic changes to your diet,” advises Desai.


Stay hydrated

Keeping your body hydrated is also very important. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercising, advises nutritionist and fitness consultant, Suman Agarwal. “Drink at least 250-500 ml of fluid after exercise and 250 ml of fluid between meals,” she says. “The drink should contain 80-120 mg sodium per 250 ml and should be cool.”


Don’t get hurt

You’ve come so far and improved your performance to a great level during these months of practice but a minor injury can undo all that hard work. In the last month of training, many runners become complacent while exercising and end up hurting themselves. “It’s important to do warm-ups and stretches before and after the run. Proper gear is also important; most of the injuries I see are because of improper gear, bad shoes and running on a treadmill. Run outside and get acquainted with the terrain,” says Dr Yajuvendra Gawai, orthopaedic and sports medicine surgeon at LH Hiranandani Hospital, Powai. For those just beginning to run, he has some special guidance: “Newbies have to be disciplined. In the Dream Run (6 km), you don’t actually have to run, so you can adopt a run-walk-run strategy. That way, you don’t have to train a lot,” he says. Agarwal also cautions against pushing yourself too hard.


“Don’t ignore your body’s feedback. Do not stress your body with training if you are tired and exhausted. Give it some recovery time,” she says. Dr Gawai echoes that view saying, “Know your limits. People get stress fractures in their feet and legs, which happen when you push yourself too much while running.”


A diet plan for race day

The night before:

You should consume a meal that is rich in carbohydrates. You could achieve this by adding potatoes, pasta, yam or additional rice to your diet, along with your regular dinner.


An hour before:

A glass of skimmed milk (0.5 per cent fat) with 2 bananas.


Just before:

You should have 25-35 gm of carbohydrates or glucose in water, that is, a high-carb drink or 1 sachet of Electral powder in water.



Every 30 minutes, you should have 250 ml of Gatorade or a high-carb drink.



Have a combination of foods which give you 100 gm of carbs with 5-9 gm of proteins (within one hour).


Try this meal after the event:

1 glass of low fat milk, 2 slices of whole wheat bread, 1-2 bananas,

a handful of nuts and raisins



— Diet plan by Suman Agarwal, nutritionist and fitness consultant



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