All of us are aware that we need food to energize our bodies, and that is never more true than when running a marathon, due to the physical exertion necessary to reach the finish line. This creates a dilemma, because even though we are using calories at a high rate, we can’t just sit down in the middle of the race and order breakfast—although it has crossed my mind a couple of times. The early long-distance runners confronted this problem by coming up with different individualized concoctions that gave them an extra dose of calories to help get them through their races. These days, we have the convenience of prepackaged “gel” products which are calculated to give you about one-hundred calories per portion. They come in a variety of flavors and are fairly easy to pack for use during a race. The only problem with these commercially-produced gel products is that some runners have a physiological and somewhat psychological limitation on how many packets they can ingest during a long race like the marathon–whereas some runners just don’t like them.
In the days leading up to the marathon, you should be loading up on carbohydrate food items, as these will be stored in your system, and used during the race. Eating a whole lot of carbohydrates the night before the race may not be the best course of action. You should be building up on your carbohydrate intake on the days leading up to the marathon—not just eight hours before the race.
Once you begin the actual race, the common wisdom is that you go through most of your stored carbohydrates in about ninety minute’s time. What that means, is that you need to replace those lost carbohydrates with some type of nutritional supplement BEFORE you are fully depleted. If you wait too long, your body will be depleted of carbohydrate stores, and your body will get fatigued as you run out of energy for your muscles. At that point you won’t be able to recharge your system quickly enough.
So, in order to keep this condition from happening, it is recommended that marathon runners ingest some type of carbohydrate product early enough to prevent their bodies from becoming depleted of calories. Therefore, a good idea is to have a gel packet, or some other type of carbohydrate supplement, EVERY FIVE OR SIX MILES during the marathon. This is something that you need to practice with during your training runs in preparation for the actual marathon race. This will give you an idea of what product or food item works with you and your individual physiology before you find yourself on the course on race day. Some things that you think sound good, and should work out, may surprise you when you actually try them out on training workouts. Also, you need to think of how you are going to carry your nutritional supplements with you during the many hours of the marathon. You want to be pretty “worry-free” with your race-day nutritional plan while doing the real running work during the race. And, remember, the sports-drink that is provided along the course will also have carbohydrates included in its contents, so that’s an added bonus, if you happen to enjoy the particular product that is offered that day. That is another thing you need to find out before the race.
If you are interested in finding out what other experienced marathon athletes eat, before their marathons and while running the race, you can go to the Buffalo Chips website and read through the article entitled, “Words From The Wise”, that can be found in the Coaches Corner section.
By the way, when you ingest a nutritional supplement during the marathon, whatever product or food item you find works best for you, it is just as importantly providing your brain with the necessary calories it needs to function properly. While you are running, your system is diverting a lot of the calories in your system to the muscles being used to propel you forward. This can deplete the calories that would normally be used by your brain during normal levels of activity. You need to provide calories, not only for your muscles to function, but for your brain to perform as well, in order to keep those electrical-impulses flowing to your muscles when you need them. So, you need food to run and food to think.


We all know that we have to drink water or some other hydration product during the marathon, although how much is needed, is somewhat particular to each individual.  While some can get by with just sipping the water at the aid-stations as they run by them, others need to keep pumping water or sports-drinks into their system at a higher rate, due to their body’s rate of consumption and perspiration, also taking into account the environmental conditions on race day.  If you are one of those who use the aid-stations to supply your hydration, there is always the possibility that they are stocked with a sports-drink product that you have never tried, and which might upset your stomach once you begin drinking it.

So, the subject of hydration is something that you need to figure out during the training runs leading up to the actual marathon.  Many runners carry water-bottles with them, either models that are hand-held or those that fit into a belt, and this gives you the freedom to not only have hydration available whenever you need it, but it also gives you the option of mixing up your own special blend of a sports-drink product, which you would have tested out on the training runs during the weeks leading up to the marathon.

Like I said earlier, some like to travel light, instead of carrying a water-bottle with them during the race, and just go with whatever is available at the aid-stations along the course.  Others prefer the accessibility of having their hydration on them so that it is available whenever and however they may need it.  But the key to hydration for the race is to try out a couple of systems and then see what works best for you.  And, remember, some sports-drink products contain both carbohydrates and electrolytes, whereas others only have electrolytes in them, so check the labels when purchasing these products to make sure that you get the product that you really need for the marathon.


YearOfTheRoosterIn celebration of Chinese New Year, I have decided to give our lucky members, and even any lucky non-members who want to take me up on my offer, the chance to improve their running–IN ONLY THREE SHORT MONTHS!

How am I able to make this seemingly unbelievable offer, you ask?  Well, let me tell you.  It is my belief that anyone who dedicates themselves to participating in our Tuesday Night Workouts, for three consecutive months, will ultimately improve their running.  Come try it out, but don’t cheat yourself, make sure you attend all of the Tuesday Night Workouts for three full months and see what happens!

In fact, it will not only improve your running, to attend all of the Tuesday Night Workouts for three months, but I pretty much guarantee that it will make you better looking at the same time!  Just look at what it did for me…

Teddy Morris

Before participating in the Tuesday Night Workouts



After participating in three months of the Tuesday Night Workouts

Need I say more? So, join us!



After the rainstorm of this past Saturday, I was pleasantly surprised to see such an enthusiastic and hearty band of runners show up at our Buffalo Chips workout, which met in the parking lot of the La Bou Bakery in Land Park, on the following Sunday morning.  It was an overcast day, but it wasn’t wet, so we headed up towards the Sacramento River levee trail for an agreed upon ten-mile run at an easy pace.

In our group, we had a variety of participants, from a relatively new runner to our group, many seasoned veterans, including one veteran of the Italian Army, and even a bicyclist–really.  When we reached the summit of the Interstate 5 overpass on Sutterville Road, and made it by those treacherous freeway signs on the way to the levee trail, our group turned north towards Downtown Sacramento for a five mile up-and-back route.

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I asked a number of our experienced marathon runners to give me their personal (and maybe even top secret) routines that they use when preparing for and running in a marathon.

If you are a relatively new marathon runner, or even if you have run a couple already but aren’t exactly sure what you can do to improve your marathon experience, there is probably something you can learn from their perspectives on what they do to prepare and succeed in that 26.2-mile race.

So, read on and find out what they have learned—sometimes the hard way!

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