Contradictory information is so confusing - Help!!!

I am currently training for my first Marathon (Edinburgh) in May, and the more I read the less I understand.

The good, old fashioned advice seems to be overturned on a daily basis.

At first it was - You must static stretch fully before and after a run. Then it became - You must Dynamic stretch before and then static at the end. Others say that the run itself is enough of a warm up???

Next is Hydration. Some say that you must drink as much as possible, then others say that you should drink to thirst? More advice tells us that if you drink to thirst its already too late?? On top of this is the debate around what to drink. Sports drink companies tell us that their glucose drink are absorbed quicker. Then I listened to Dr Noaks and he claimed that it made no difference as the body still absorbed liquid quicker than its ever required.

Ice baths - Good or bad????

Fuelling - Everything I read stated that Carbs are what you need to get through a race. Now the new movement states that we should have  a High fat / low Carb diet and that we should never fuel with gels (rather we should use fats and starch). They believe that we should avoid gains and sugars????

Am I the only one who feels that their world is constantly turned on it head? All the articles are written with such confidence that you feel that they must be right!?!

Any thoughts out there?



  • Do what is sensible may seem a bit of a cop out but ...

    Warm up gradually during the run or as a 10 min run pre session must be better than stretching cold muscles

    Keep properly hydrated each day and every day, carry water if running longer than an hour or if temperatures dictate

    Fuel and refuel according to the above, carbs for energy and protein for recovery (roughly speaking)
    If you dont use gels and sports drink then how are you going to carry and digest fats and starch on longer runs?

    I dont think all these studies are necc claiming to have the answers or to say it is the definitive moreso to get us to think about what we are doing more

  • Try Sam Murphy's books. A bit boring but sensible is boring. All good solid sensible advice with no sensational "a study has shown stories"  

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    We're all individuals and we're all different in how training/hydration etc affect us.

    Its down to experience, and that will take time to accumulate.

    Follow the most basic advice you can to achieve the objective. Then try something else. Compare results. 

    You may find you need to drink a lot. Maybe not. It'll take at minimum, two races to find out.

    100 races later, you'll have a pretty good idea of what works best.


  • Leeches are the future.
    Eat em, stretch em, stick em on your legs before intervals.
    All works.

  • What Ric says.

    There are few "rules". Different things work for different people - your long runs are a chance to experiment with what works best for you whether that's what you wear, what you drink and how much, or what you have for breakfast. 

  • I like to drink at least a litre of water on a long run and need to be sober for two days before or I will have a headache all boss can neck ten pints one night and be up at five thirty to run twenty miles without a drink the next morning. But I run a good minute per mile faster than he does. 

    We have both been at it long enough to know what works for us and we completely ignore each other's advice. You just have to try stuff and see if it works For you.


  • Ideally find someone you trust - who also spends the time to do the work on the latest and greatest theories in nutrition and sports science.

    I am a fan of Noakes, read his book, listen to his interviews.  Drank to thirst - got extremely dehydrated and had a REALLY bad time on race day (admittedly disgustingly hot european ironman but still I was annoyed). So, stuff drinking to thirst.  However I have never had a problem drinking to thirst on a shorter race like a marathon.

    I know Noakes has gone paleo so he will be banging on the low carb/high fat drum.  Personally I have been there - tried it  (after all, why not) realised I can get away with fewer carbs than I thought - however.... realised I need carbs not fat to do super long distance and anything at all that has any oomph.

    You will have to make up your own mind but the high fat low carb thing is hard for an endurance athlete - even the ones that do it (from what I can see from my own internet trawls) still stack up on the carbs (sweet pots and stuff like that) before and after training sessions and STILL use gels.  I even heard an interview with the 'super fat burning man' (that's the name of his podcast can't remember his real name) - he is one of the gurus of fat adaptation and eating fat and protein on long long runs - and even he said that you need to go slower if you cut out the carbs.


    So,in summary.  Fluid - try out on long training runs and find out what suits you - just don't guzzle gallons and gallons and think that the tiny amount of sodium added to sports drinks will be enough to offset too much liquid. Remember that sports drink companies live to sell - they do research to prove their stuff is the biz so don't believe anything they say unless you can find unbiased info that backs it up. Use sports drinks for their carb content rather than their hydration properties.

    Gels/jelly babies etc - don't deprive yourself if you want them - they are a great tool.  Who in the real world actually exists on these extreme diets anyway - life is too short to 'fat adapt'  (IMHO).  

  • It's so great to see so many people suggesting the "Try it and see what works" method. I really value everyone's feedback. It can be so easy to listen to podcasts that give such strong opinions, leaving me to wonder what to do.

    I currently run my long runs with a small camel pack (with a few carb/caffeine tablets in it) and couple of gels. This seems to work for me far so I guess I will continue to do this.

    With gels, how soon in to a run and how often after that does everyone take theirs? I know it's down to individual need etc but I was interested in your experiences.
  • Gels are another "see what suits you".

    And some people prefer jelly babies, jelly beans, cereal bars and all sorts of other stuff. Again it's trial and error and what works for you

  • You just have to see what works for you on your long runs, that's the best I can do.  I would advise getting used to running with water though as Edinburgh can experience all sorts of weather.  When I ran it in 2012 it was a very hot (in the 20s so hot for the UK!) sunny day, evreyone told me I shouldn't carry water but I did and drank all 2 litres of it AND took water at the water stations so was very glad I did.  The year before though was much colder and very windy apparently.  If you're in a club ask some of the experienced marathoners what they use and can get hold of locally too...

    Most importantly good luck and I hope you enjoy your first marathon image

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    I believe there was a time in marathon racing when eating (even drinking) was frowned upon.

    Your average racer would blast along for a couple of hours without any real effort and then 'bang', life would suddenly become really hard work. Happened to me once, easy effort - to stop in less than 100m.

    But now we can eat and drink the whole way around so the 'magic' of the gel doesn't need to come into it. But if you like them, why not? I'd eat a Macburger if I could.

    Most marathon runners don't hit the wall. They just become gradually very very tired. Anything over 3 hours is a monumental effort. I would eat and drink all the time during that.

  • DeanR7DeanR7 ✭✭✭

    keep it simple mate.

    drink enough water / carb sports drink before the race so your urine isnt yellow. (not too close to start time otherwise you might need to go during the race)  if you fancy have a drink at a water station after about 45mins

    eat carbs for a few nights before a race. after 45mins in a race you might fancy a gel. and then another ever 30mins after that... up to you

    do whatever stretches you want.  whatever works to get yourself loose, work on any troubled areas..  although i favour a mile jog. others work themselves up into a right sweat...not for me.

    ice baths good to recover tired legs for the next day but not essential so dont get hung up on them

    opinions in running are like choosing a perfect husband/wife. lots of different views out there all suitable for that individual but maybe not you.  they are all correct and all wrong as well.   choose your own, of course you might have a few nightmares along the way to finding out image

  • Agree with all my lovely fellow commenters above. Discover as you go, try stuff, see what works for you. Enjoy. Share.

    Have to say one thing I recently found (still trying new stuff after 5 years running), ice baths DO work - even if you're not Paula Radcliffe level! here's me:

    Jog to warm up, do run, stop, pat back, stretch, water, chocolate milk, warm bath, wash, empty to 2 inches, fill with cold until quads completely covered. Sit for as long as you can (me, max so far, 10 mins). Get out. Dry. Dress. Eat protein. Pat back. Rest.

    This little routine means I now hardly ever get DOMS and even after evil intervals I'm ready to go next day/day after for a tempo or LSR.


    Best of luck with Edinburgh. x


  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    Nothing new on marathon day.

    Whatever you pick for your kit, warmup routine, hydration, nutriotion, pacing etc should be familiar to you already.

    Experiment a bit using your weekly long runs and figure out what works for you. Chances are it won't be exactly the same as any cookbook recipe.

    Most of it is common sense. Eat carbs before the race. Dont drink so much that you have to stop for a piss 200m after the start line. Wear sunscreen. etc


    Dont step on pavement cracks. Turn the lights on and off exactly 14 times. never wear green on a Thursday. Oh no wait wrong thread. Shit.

Sign In or Register to comment.