Marathon Mondays: Food is Fuel on the Road to Success

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The Charlottesville Marathon is 14 weeks away, and thousands of runners are starting the process of getting race day ready.

Training for a marathon takes a lot out of your body, so finding the right food is just as important as finding the right footwear. Food is fuel for the body, and before you take your grocery cart out for a spin, you need to pay attention to what's in your tank.

Rita Smith is a registered dietitian. She says it all comes down to choices, and for runners, the right fuel could be the main factor in crossing the finish line.

"It is so important to eat well when you are training for any kind of event," says Smith. "But especially a marathon, because you need all that energy to last for 26 miles."

In the age of fast food and bigger is better, "food as fuel" is definitely a concept many find hard to grasp. It's something that Smith is very familiar with. "That's almost hard to get your head around. So, during this process of training for a marathon, it's really important to not eat and focus on a specific food, but to have a wide variety of foods."

Whether you run a marathon or walk a mile or two, you need to provide the nutrition your body demands. The longer you are running, paying attention to diet is something trainer Dan Bayliss believes is a must for resilience on the road.

"The carbs and sugars that you need are absolutely crucial for a marathon distance," Bayliss explains. "Typically after 60 minutes your blood sugar starts dropping after continuous endurance exercise. So you need to replenish a lot of your blood sugars."

The body has three sources of fuel: carbohydrates, protein, and fats. According to Smith, each plays an important role.

"Everything has its own jobs," she says. "If you don't eat enough carbs, your body will break down the protein to get the carb energy that it should have gotten from the carbs. If you eat just protein foods, its going to break down the muscle mass to get enough glucose that you should have gotten from the carb foods."

Smith is also big on finding a balance, combined with activity, that your body needs. "It really is a balancing act. and sometimes when you are reading to prepare for this, you do read a little of a bend towards one or the other nutrient, and it needs to be the threesome. But the carbs and the proteins are the most important."

So before you hit the road, pay close attention to what's on your plate. Little changes now can make a big difference in your success.

Marathon Monday with NBC29 - Training schedule for the week of 01/01

Libby Allison's Training Blog: http://libbylacesup.blogspot.com/

Trainer Dan Bayliss Bio: http://bestinhealth.weebly.com/about-dan.html

Week Three Training Schedule*, designed by Trainer Dan Bayliss

Sunday- Off (or non-weight bearing exercise)

Monday- Run (or run/walk) 5 miles

Tuesday- Off (or non-weight bearing exercise)

Wednesday- Run (or run/walk) 4 miles

Thursday- Run (or run/walk) 4 miles

Friday- Off (or non-weight bearing exercise)

Saturday- Run (or run/walk) 6 miles

*Follow this schedule and train with NBC29 at your own risk. Make sure you are physically fit enough for vigorous exercise before starting any exercise program.