Even for regular runners, training for a marathon is a steep learning curve. Long distance runs require to prep for a 42.2km race, considering how to avoid injury, how to fit in and vary all the running you need to do and, lastly but by no means least-ly, how you fuel your body for all that exercise.
Most, if not all, of your fuelling should be done through your diet, but there are times when eating real food just isn’t possible or desirable – one of those times being the race itself – and that’s where supplements can help.
The main supplements to consider are ones that top up your carb reserves and electrolytes during long runs, and ones that help you restock and help the body recover during an arduous training schedule. There are also supplements like beetroot juice and caffeine that can help to boost your performance. In short, there are loads of different supplements you can use to help you body cope with the demands of marathon training. Here are the top types you’ll come across.
Running gels are probably the most common marathon training supplement. Make sure you’ve already tried the ones you use in the race, because they can be hard on the digestive system.
These are a combo of carbs and electrolytes, and are good for fuelling before or during longer runs. You won’t want to carry these with you for the event itself, which is why most people opt for more portable gels and electrolyte tabs, but they’re good during training or if you can grab them en route during the race.
Pop these in water and they dissolve quickly to create an electrolyte-rich cocktail, containing minerals like sodium, potassium and magnesium, which help your body to hydrate itself. Having the tab with you means you can just grab water on the course of the race and create your own electrolyte drink.
Research into the nitrates found in foods like beetroot, spinach and rocket suggests they can have a positive effect on performance in endurance activities – apparently Leicester City used beet juice to great effect in their Premier League title-winning season.