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The Forum, Published April 01 2014

Getting in gear: Learning more about race day nutrition

We’ve heard for years about carbo loading before a race. Is it really science or just an excuse to eat your body weight in pasta? In today’s “Getting in Gear with Josh and Erin,” Fargo Marathon director Mark Knutson gives our runners, Josh Thomas and Erin Mayer, advice on the best foods and drinks to fuel the runner’s body.

1. Race day breakfast. Look for something that gives you a combination of fat, carbohydrates, fiber, protein and vitamins, Knutson says. He likes Clif Bars, which come in a number of flavors. He says they’re tasty and filling without leaving you overstuffed. They’re about 250 calories, enough to fuel you for the race.

2. The scoop on water. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. We’ve heard it for years for a reason. It’s true. Knutson says it is possible to over hydrate, but most of the time it doesn’t happen.

He says you should make sure to drink plenty of water about an hour to an hour and a half before a race. Not much after that, until the race starts. At the Fargo Marathon, water stations are set up every two miles.

Those running the 5K probably don’t need to stop at all to drink, 10K runners can stop a time or two, and half and full marathon runners should drink water at every stop.

3. During the run nutrition. Knutson says serious runners often will pack Hammer Gels. At 110 calories, the fruit-flavored gels are basically an instant shot of sugar and provide a little boost to slumping runners. Clif also sells shot blocks, which are gummy bears for the runner.

4. Post run drinks. Beer. OK, fine. But not right away. Have some water or a sports drink like Powerade or Gatorade to rehydrate what you’ve lost. One of the best post-run drinks is actually chocolate milk because of its combination of fat, sugar and protein, Knutson says.

5. Post-run foods. Knutson says it’s important to get something to eat within 30 to 45 minutes after a run. Your body needs protein to recover. It doesn’t matter much what kind of protein it is, but Knutson says it plays a role in rebuilding muscle and helping prevent muscle soreness the next day.

For more information about race day nutrition, go to our blog at gettingingear.areavoices.com. Next time: what you need to know one month from race day.