Following our discussion over the last few weeks about nutrition guidelines during training for marathon, one of the most important parts of the whole planned approach to nutrition intake comes towards the last week before the final day of the event.
In a well-planned physical training program for the marathon, the intensity of physical training reduces in the last one or two weeks before the final day. The frequency, duration and intensity of the training schedule drastically reduces, towards the last week before the final day, and hence nutrition intake has to be modified accordingly to avoid gaining any additional and un-necessary weight!
However, during the last week before the final day, a special nutrition plan – called the super-compensation plan or more commonly carbo-loading plan is recommended, in order to boost stamina and endurance and avoid fatigue (or commonly called “hitting the wall”) during the early hours of the run.
Carbo-loading basically consists of depleting and depriving the muscles of carbohydrates for a few days, and then loading them again, both through diet modification! So, during the last seven days, before the final day, from a carbohydrate percentage of 60%-70% during the initial training period, decrease the carbohydrate percentages to as low as 40% during days one through three, while reducing your exercise duration accordingly. And then on the fourth day, increase carbohydrate consumption to 70%, even though your exercise intensity is gradually reducing. Finally on days five and six, the carbohydrate percentage remains at 70%, while all activities are completely stopped, or in other words, they are complete rest days!
Needless to mention, the percentages of macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins and fats during and their sources, during the carbo-loading diet plan are important and require expert guidance of a sports nutritionist. As a general rule, sources of carbohydrates having low glycemic index (so as to prolong their absorption into the blood stream as glucose) are good options!