Marathon season coming up

Marathon season coming up!

We have quite a few patients that are running marathons over the next couple of months. We all wish them the best of luck. Just in case you missed our last feature on marathon prep, here it is again:

n this article we focus on one of our patients, Padeepa Manoj, who runs marathons regularly in fantastic times. We also have information on carbohydrate loading in the days leading up to a marathon.

So Padeepa, how long do you typically train for a marathon?
20-25 weeks, with varying distances but ranging from 70-100km per week. In total I ran 1.300km this year.

How many days a week do you train?
4-5 days a week

What injuries have you sustained throughout the training?
None this year, but last year I did my achilles heel.

Do you do any psychological preparation, and if so which technique do you find the most effective?
A few days before I started visioning a strong performance, and mapping in my mind how to run the race.

Are you going to prepare for another marathon?
Yes, I want to try and break 3hrs at Berlin – so I’ll be back to see Franco!

What have been your previous times for marathons?
Venice Marathon 2001 = 3hrs:25min
London Marathon 2009 = 3hrs:13min
Zurich Marathon 2010 = 3hrs:04min:34sec
Berlin Marathon 2010 = ??

Could you give any tips for amateur marathon athletes?
Plenty of tips… consistency is the most important part in training for the marathon. Its no good having 1 good week of training, and then taking the intensity off, then trying to play catch up with training. Watch what you eat, and cut out unnecessary carbohydrates during the training period. Weight loss brings the biggest performance gains. Drink plenty of water – 1,5L per day. Experiment with gels during training (isotonic gels are the best). Also, understand when the best time to eat is prior to your marathon (typically 3-4 hours before). Get plenty of sleep. Take hot baths with Epsom salts after long runs. Have 1 sports massage per month, increasing to 1 per week in the final 2 months. In the race, don’t worry about others around you. Run what is comfortable for you. Also, run in the shelter of others – your heart rate will drop by 1-2 bpm. Remember the race starts at 30-32km. The final 10km is the RACE, and this is where time is there to be gained or lost.

Have you a last word to say about your treatment?
“Franco has helped me in the preparation of the past two marathons. I’ve been to many sports therapists over the years, and I can honestly say that he is the best I’ve come across. He has a great passion for understanding the body and the athlete. Having been a trained athlete himself, he also understands what you might be going through. He gave me a lot of additional time, and suggested stretches, exercises, tips on diet and supplements all to help get the best of myself. Simply he was great”.

A typical carbohydrate loading plan for pre-marathon:

Carbohydrate (CHO) requirements:

Endurance athletes: 9-10 g/kg CHO (per day)
For example a 73kg man  – (73 x 10) = 730 (CHO) g/day

Triathlete: 10/12 g/kg/ CHO

Sample carbohydrate loading regime before competition

It is important that prior to competition, muscle glycogen stores should be as high as possible, so that fatigue to glycogen depletion is delayed as long as possible.

Maximum muscle glycogen storage can be achieved through alteration in training and diet a week before the event.

For days 7, 6, 5 and 4 before competition, diet should be altered such that (CHO) content is moderately low (350g/day). This should be combined with moderately hard training (1-2 hours) in order to deplete muscle glycogen.

3 days prior to competition, a higher (CHO) diet should be consumed (500-700 g/day) and training should be reduced to (30-60 minutes) low to moderate intensity.

3-4 hours prior to competition the athlete should consume about (200-300 g) of (CHO) of high/moderate Glyacemic Index (i.e. rice, honey, porridge, sweet potatoes, grapes etc.)

You’ll know you have properly carbo-loaded if you have gained 1 to 2 kg, which is mostly water retention.

With each ounce of stored glycogen, you store about 3 ounces of water!!!

Protein consumption during training

Consume about 1.3 to 1.6 grams of proteins per Kg of body weight

Sample carbo-loading menu for a marathon runner athlete.


1 cup of orange juice
½ cup grape-nuts
1 banana
2 muffins


2 slices oatmeal bread
3 oz turkey breast with lettuce, tomato
1 sweet potato with olive oil
1 large glass of pure apple juice


250-300 g of spaghetti with tomato sauce
1 tin of tuna fish
¼ loaf multigrain bread with jam


1 cup of vanilla yoghurt
6 fig bars

Drink extra fluids!

Drink about 4 extra glasses of water and pure fruit juices (pear, apple or orange juice) during the 2 days before the event. You should have to urinate every 2 to 4 hours.

Avoid ALCOHOLIC drinks!!!

On the race morning, drink at least 3 glasses of water (flavoured with a bit of squash or an isotonic sports drink!) up to 2 hours before the event and one to 2 cups 5 to 10 minutes before race time.


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