Since its creation in 2012, Patagonian International Marathon® has become a multinational event. Athletes, fans and travelers from different parts of the world land in our wonderful region of Magallanes to participate in this historic race taking place in Torres del Paine National Park. Some come with the mindset to compete hard in order to achieve their goals and others come to enjoy the beautiful landscape gifted to us by the extreme south of Patagonia. Whichever the case may be, all runners must come prepared.
In addition to technical training, physical preparation, and concern for clothing, runners must recognize that nutrition is a key aspect of their conditioning. For this reason, before the eleventh edition, which will take place on 9 September, 2023, nutritionists Francisca Hernández and Sasha Sepúlveda provide us with very important recommendations.
(Photo: Francisca Hernández’s Instagram)
Francisca Hernández is a nutritionist from the Universidad Mayor de Chile and has diplomas in Sports Medicine (Universidad Católica) and Sports Nutrition (Athletic Science Academy). She is a runner, trail runner and triathlete, in addition to advising high performance athletes.
Sasha Sepúlveda is a nutritionist from Universidad Bernardo O’Higgins with a diploma in Sports Nutrition (Universidad Católica), in addition to being an ISAK internationally certified anthropometrist with experience in athletics.
Hernández: “Food must be treated with the same concern, or even more so, as it provides you with the necessary energy (in both quality and quantity) to finish each workout. If you have a poor diet, performance will be affected by either discomfort or low energy.”
Sepúlveda: “The same importance should be given to it (e.g. going out to train, going to the gym or choosing clothing) since they are a set and must be treated in an integral way. Each can influence the other. Wearing bad clothing, for example, can influence poor performance due to physical discomfort, either due to chafing or having to carry a heavier load when sweating. Good nutrition or good sleep are also part of silent training.”
Hernández: “It’s always going to vary, mainly due to the amount of time amateur runners have been participating in the sport. Personally, I believe that the nutrition should be improved about six months before the event, which provides you with a cushion to account for margin of error, and thus allows oneself to analyze what they like and don’t like and perhaps make improvements with regards to body composition. And then, three months before the race, you must implement everything you have studied in terms of daily food, which will allow you to practice your diet for that specific event.”
Sepúlveda: “My suggestion is to start working on this issue at least three months before the race, especially if you will be running longer distances like 21K or 42K. During this time, the runner can have sufficient time to learn about their body and adapt to different food types, such as fruits, sweets or own preparations, or even try carbohydrate gels that include caffeine to cope with the race. It’s important not to try new things on race day or in the days leading up to it, and instead, choose to try out different dietary strategies in the weeks leading up to the event in order for each runner to find their ideal option. For the 10K, I think that what’s provided at the hydration points would be sufficient, meaning, water or some isotonic.”
Hernández: “It will always depend on each case, but when you have to prepare, many athletes realize that the consumption of alcohol seriously impairs performance and muscle recovery. Likewise, excess consumption of fried foods or “heavier” meals the day before a long jog can also have negative consequences on your training. With regards to the opposite, it is also very variable and will depend on each case, as a lot will depend on the current diet, but the consumption of carbohydrates and the moderate consumption of fats and proteins should usually be greatly increased”.
Sepúlveda: “I think it’s super important to complete a carbohydrate ‘load’ the day before the event, in conjunction with good hydration (this can be easily controlled by looking at the urine: which should be light in color without being thirsty). Also, as I mentioned before, I think another main factor is to not try anything new, especially for an athlete who is looking to perform at their best and challenge for the podium in these types of races. Nothing should be left to chance.”
Hernández: “It’s important before a race to consume approximately five grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight. For example, two slices of white bread with sugared jam and 300cc of isotonic drink. This should happen three or four hours before the marathon. Along the route, one must calculate a range of about 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour, which is easy to achieve thanks to the gels that each runner should be carrying with them (which must have also been practiced) coupled with an isotonic drink. The general consensus is to consume a gel every 45 minutes.”
Sepúlveda: “It will always depend on each athlete and what they already know they can digestively tolerate. Therefore, it’s important to try certain foods during long-term training in the weeks prior to the race. Some can have a coffee or tea (with or without sugar) and eat a couple slices of bread. As an example, carbohydrates with jam, which contain the sugar necessary for the race. Some can even eat the bread with turkey ham (protein), which is very beneficial for competition. As for along the route, if the race exceeds 60 minutes, it’s ideal to bring an isotonic drink or even take gels or foods previously approved by your digestive system during previous training sessions. Also, when making the decision, it’s important to take into account whether you will be taking a backpack or bumbag/fanny pack.”
Hernández: “Yes, it could primarily change the hydration strategy and the consumption of salt tablets. The hotter it is, the greater the consumption of liquids and sodium we will need due to increased sweating. In the opposite case, it would be necessary to evaluate if the runner is a person who tends to have very salty sweat (this can be easily detected by seeing if there is a lot of salt present on the clothing), and thus determine how much sodium should be consumed during different weather conditions.”
Sepúlveda: “Yes, it can happen that changes in clothing in relation to climate can dictate nutrition, such as using running tights, a hat or a pair of gloves when there is excess cold prior to running can simultaneously generate an exacerbated rise in body temperature during competition. This then influences sweating, which in turn means good hydration must not be forgotten or looked past. It’s the same idea if it gets hot: you should take at least one change of clothing to the start in order to make the final decision before the race, leaving everything else behind in your bag for the finish line.”
Hernández: “You must give much consideration to rehydration based on isotonic drinks and water in order to properly replenish muscle glycogen with the consumption of carbohydrates. The consumption of post-competition proteins is usually something that is left aside or forgotten. The marathon is a very catabolic sport, meaning it is super necessary to provide a good base for muscle recovery. After this distance, the recommendation is to also add a food or supplement that contains between 20 and 30 grams of protein.”
Sepúlveda: Post-race is super important, as all of the damaged tissue from the competition needs to be recovered and everything that was lost, such as electrolytes, needs to be replenished, meaning eating properly and hydrating yourself will be essential to a quicker recovery.”
Hernández: “It’s very important, and even more so if longer distances are the challenge. Eating before, during and after the competitions is key to being able to achieve your objectives”.
Sepúlveda: “It’s as important as the training planned with the coach and carried out daily. It’s also important to train your diet, which is a factor that we can control and that will allow us to obtain good nutrition for daily activities, including training sessions designed for our yearly competitions.”
Hernández: “When these issues are taken into account, the increased improvement in performance is enormous. It’s very common to see runners who have never consumed gels or who have never carb ‘loaded’ in their lives try these strategies and then provide feedback of requiring less effort during the race, having better recovery and more successfully achieving their goals.”
Sepúlveda: “If one plans for it and manages to organize themselves with regards to previous meals and nutrition along the route, the nutritional strategies will provide for a better performance in training and will not fail during the race, allowing oneself to focus on enjoying the race and not suffering, and thus leaving the competition with a great memory. There will be a big difference between those who put it aside versus those who want to work on it, and those who do will see a change in race times and avoid injuries, fatigue during competition and digestive discomfort.”
Registration for Patagonian International Marathon® is open and spots are limited. You can keep up to date with all the news via our Instagram account @patagonianmarathon.