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Training for Half Marathon; what food do I eat?

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I am a beginner runner, I cant quite run 5k yet. I am planning on running in a Half Marathon Sept 21.

I have found a training schedule from Runner's World which is a 10 week program but I only have 8.5 weeks till Race Day. I start the program on Monday, but I am looking for foods to eat  prior and after. I know I have to keep a High Carb low-fat diet, but if anyone who has been in my shoes has any advice for me that would be great. I am gonna do this wish me luck.

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 I don't think high-carb/low-fat is the way to go, frankly - that's been the advice for the past 20 years and look where it got us.

Try a more mediterranean approach - the high-carb/low fat approach is pro-inflammatory, increases oxidative stress on your whole system, is immuno-suppressing and all around bad news for general health and well being.

I totally agree with Melkor.  Don't go low-fat at all.  Fat is essential when you're planning on doing heavy exercise.  Almonds are highly recommended for runners as a fat (and protien) source.  Your best bet is to just keep your diet as balanced as possible and shoot for 25-30% fat, 30% protien, and 55-65% carbs.  And try to get your carbs from whole grains and unprocessed sources rather than refined carbs & sugars.

And make sure you listen to your body.  Doing a 1/2 marathon is taxing even to the bodies of people that are seasoned distance runners.  I used to regularly run 6-9 miles a day, 6 days a week and throw in some 9, 10, and 11 milers in there for good measure and a half marathon was difficult for me.  Make sure you don't train too hard or push yourself too quickly or you will end up injured and unable to compete. 

the best long run i ever had was after eating 'soaked' muesli (or even steel cut oats would be best), with a little bit of honey & butter (just a little). i usually get a little thirsty running, but because i had soaked the grain, i also got consistently hydrated from the slow release of water. and soaking any grains/legumes keeps you fuller and makes it easier for your body to digest so you dont get bloated or those dreaded cramps.

but you really have to experiment to find whats right for you as we all have a different sensitivities. one of the less desirable runs i've had was after eating 2 bowls of bran flakes. luckily for that one i was at the gym & could just get off the treadmill Embarassed. i know, i know, it was stupid but i just wasn't thinking.

for short runs i also have a banana & some natural chunky peanut butter. they both give me energy.  and having almonds after a run with an orange.

I really applaud your desire, determination, and goal-setting. However, if you can't run 5k yet, I think you should seriously rethink the Sept. 21 half-marathon date.

I know there a lot of those schedules that promise to take you from the "couch to a marathon" or half-marathon, in a short length of time. However, a lot of people that follow those quickie schedules end up injured and never even enter the race. Or they do run the race but the experience is so awful they never run again.

Also, a lot of trainers, and even those internet schedules advise you not to make a marathon or a half-marathon your very first race. They suggest running a 5k or a 10k, or several, before you enter one of the long races.

What's the rush? September is just the beginning of the fall race season, why not find a half-marathon later in the year and give yourself a better chance of being successful and running it injury-free?

I agree with Johnpetersmith, it is really great that you are taking up running.  The best thing you can do is give yourself a change to increase your distance over time to avoid injury.  My first two races were a 5km and and a 10km.  They provided me with some experience running in a race before I attempted my first 1/2 marathon.  I look back at those races with great pride as I set my personal best time for the 5 and 10km. 

I run my first 1/2 marathon 8 months after starting to run.  I trained consistently 6 days per week from September to May.  I increased my distance gradually over time and was able to run 21.1km  about 2 months before the race.

Make sure that you listen to your body.  You will need good running shoes and always stretch after running.

You will want to eat balanced meals. When you are training you need food from all the food groups.  On long runs, you will want to bring water and some food with you.  You don't want to bonk!. 

Good luck

I have to say that  also agree with johnpetersmith and was hinting that in my previous post.  Most training schedules for beginners are a minimum of12-16 weeks.  And even for someone who runs regularly the training schedules begin at 12 weeks.  You may have to push yourself TOO hard in such a short time.  For example-I may run (still debating) a 1/2 the same date you're planning on running yours and I can run 9 miles no problem at this point. 

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carbs and lots of carbs
I just wanted to say you don't HAVE to keep a high carb diet while training for running events.  I am a distance runner and an endurance athlete, and have no problem training on 40-50% carb days.  I mean, I definitely wouldn't race like that, but you don't need to eat high carb every day.  The key is timing your carbs so that you get them when you need them.  For longer workout days, I will get up to about 50% carbs, but I am usually closer to 40-45%

So proper carb timing usually works out to: about an hour before you run (sometimes earlier for long runs), then during if you are on a long run, and then again within the 30 minutes after you finish your run (the recovery nutrition is crucial). 

The reason I want to run Sept 21, is that it is the Army Run in Ottawa. My unit is paying for the personnel who would like to compete. However if I feel in about 4 weeks that I am unable to complete the 13.1, I will take my name from the Half Marathon and see if I can run in the 5k instead, it is not worth seriously injuring myself.  I start my training schedule today with a 3.25km easy run. Here we go. Keep the advice and the support coming I can use it. Thanks

Hey! I'm training for the Army Run half-marathon in Ottawa, too!

I started running 14 months ago and I'm just now up near 20k. A more experienced runner told me not to increase either my distance or duration by more than 10% every 4 to 6 weeks in order to protect my knees and ankles.
What if you did the Galloway method for the 1/2 marathon?  It's a method where you take walk breaks... generally something like run 8 minutes, walk 2 minutes. 

Check out the link for methodology: here
And the training plan is here

you got my point...

I have to agree with some of the others who are a bit concerned that a September 21st target 1/2 marathon is a bit agressive. Usually, those training programs assume that you already have a solid base of running under your belt (like, you are already running upwards of 20 to 25 miles per week, each week).

I've done two half marathons, quite a few 5K and 10K races and am starting to ramp up my training for another 1/2 marathon on September 29th - and I'm nervous about being ready....

Stick to the training though - who knows, if you're feeling strong, you may be able to walk/run the race, and, like you said, there's always the 5K.

As for food, I wouldn't really change anything you're doing now. To be honest, I didn't really eat anything "special" in the time I was training for the 1/2, and got through it just fine. In the week before the actual race, I ate a bit more carbs and drank a ton of water, but apart from that, a "normal" balanced diet while you are training should be fine.
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Best advice when you're training for long distance races: eat enough to sustain your training. On a significant calorie deficit, you won't even be able to run at 50% of your VO2 max, which is a measure of your body's ability to take up oxygen.

I would recommend you just get plenty of quickly digesting carbs with a bit of protein after longer runs to help replenish those glycogen stores. Try to do this within 4 hours of the training.

Until you're running longer distances, just i'd just keep eating as you wish to eat. No need to change things unless you feel your performance is weakening.



Again I echo the encouragement from everyone here.  As someone who has seriously injured herself from over training - tibia stress fracture to a full radial fracture, 6 weeks on crutches, and 10 months to rehab the leg!! I can't stress enough that withdrawing from the race may be the prudent thing to do. 

If you really want to do it then I would definitely do the run / walk method. For example, run 20, walk 5, then run 19, walk 6 then you switch to other variations like run 7 walk 3, etc. 

On the generalized eating, I agree that you have to have a balanced diet of all food groups. Don't skimp on GOOD FATS...

They do say that chocolate milk is THE recovery drink after a good long run. I did a hard 14 mile run on Saturday and I ate Clif Shots along the way (only one package), drank water, and then after wards had a Clif bar with a whole bunch of water. 

Also, my trainers have said to increase only about 10% per 3 or 4 weeks.  

I also think that a good heart rate monitor is very helpful. You can learn alot about how you are training by watching your heart rate. 

Good Luck!! I love Ottawa, great city! 

high carb low fat isn't a good idea, more carbs are only important when you're doing long runs, and by long I mean anything over 8K (5 miles). If you're only running 2 miles a day and eating a lot of carbs you're probably going to gain fat. Protein is what helps build muscle which is kinda important when you want to run :)

That reminds me of all the people who do 1 mile runs and then drink a DONT drink the stuff unless you're working out for a long time :)

And another thing- if you can't run 3 miles yet, you are not ready for a 12 mile run. Maybe by December you can be ready. Then again, you can walk during the half marathon so if you're okay with just doing it for fun and not working on a super fast time it's alright in my opinion.

Hey everyone, thanks for the continued advice. I started my training  yesterday on the treadmill at the gym (because of the humidity outside). I was able to go for 5.2km at 7.30min/km pace. I really surprised myself, I am not doing this race for competition I know I am not ready for that yet. I will most likley walk/run the race but if I can run it at an easy pace and finish great but I dont want to kill myself my job depends on my physical ability. Keep the support and adve coming

So far the training is going great, I am up to running between 6 and 8km at an easy pace (8.5km/h). I get the odd sore muscle mainly in my shins, but once I get going the soreness eases off. I think as long as I keep doing what an doing with stretches and warm-ups for the next 4 weeks I should be good to go for the big run.

Congrats on your progress!!

One thing that I've read over and over (from some of the online training guides that I've used for my own 1/2 marathon training purposes) is that your "long" runs should be at a pace that's 1.5 to 2 min/mile SLOWER than your 5K pace.

Sounds like you're doing that already....running your 8km at a 8.5km/hr pace. Maybe try slowing down even more and increase your distance for your "long run" each week.

Good luck and have fun!
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