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What to eat and drink for Miami Marathon, Half Marathon

Runners make their way across the MacArthur Causeway as they participate in the 20th Annual Life Time Miami Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday, February 6, 2022. More than 15,000 combined runners were entered in the marathon and half marathon.

Runners make their way across the MacArthur Causeway as they participate in the 20th Annual Life Time Miami Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday, February 6, 2022. More than 15,000 combined runners were entered in the marathon and half marathon.

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The Life Time Miami Marathon and Half Marathon are back on Sunday, with 18,000 runners lining up for the 6 a.m. start in front of the Miami-Dade Arena.

And while many have run the race before – it’s in its 21st year – there are others who are competing for the first time. A tip from the experts:

“You shouldn’t change your diet, change your drinking habits, change your clothes, change your shoes,” said Dr. Michael Swartzon, a sports medicine physician at Baptist Health Orthopedic Care and co-medical director for the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon.

What you need to do is focus on staying hydrated, eating right, and exercising just enough to stay active without exhausting yourself, according to Lisa Dorfman, an author, athlete, and dietitian who works for the U.S. Special Operations Command at Homestead Air Forcebase. The former University of Miami sports nutritionist has previously worked with Olympic athletes and is known online as the Running Nutritionist.

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Here are tips to watch for Sunday’s race:

How to hydrate

The National Academy of Medicine recommends that men consume about 8-12 cups (2-3 liters) of fluids daily and women about 6-9 cups (1.5-2.2 liters). However, not everyone needs the same amount of water. It can differ per person.

You don’t have to achieve that fluid count with water alone. You can drink sports drinks and eat foods that contain potassium and magnesium, two essential minerals that the body needs but run depletes. Foods high in potassium include bananas, oranges, watermelon, avocados, coconut water, dried fruits such as raisins and apricots, and almonds and cashews. Foods high in magnesium include chia and pumpkin seeds, almonds and cashews, black beans, edamame and peanut butter.

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What not to drink: Alcohol. It dehydrates you and can affect your body’s energy levels. However, if you plan to drink alcohol this week, stick to one or two beers and avoid drinking alcohol the day before the race, she said.

What to eat before the game

Miami is a foodie’s paradise. This can make preparing meals in the days leading up to the marathon a challenge, especially for visitors.

Dorfman said you can enjoy South Florida’s diverse cuisine through Thursday and eat more common foods on Friday and Saturday.

Some suggestions:

For breakfast cereal with a smoothie. You could also have a few eggs. Or peanut butter on toast with a banana. For lunch, a grilled chicken sandwich on wholemeal bread. For a snack, a sports bar or a carbohydrate-rich drink. For dinner, 1 to 2 cups of pasta, though “not too much sauce” with a chicken breast or a few meatballs.

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“You don’t want to eat protein the night before because protein isn’t your main source of energy for the race. It’s really going to be those carbs and it’s going to be those regular carbs,” said Dorfman.

What to avoid: Sugary foods, spicy foods, and foods you’re not used to eating, according to Swartzon.

How much should you train for the half/full marathon?

While it’s important to stay active before the marathon, don’t do it too late.

Warmups are OK, but avoid long runs, especially the day before the race, according to Swartzon. Also, don’t try to add new workout regimens to your routine.

While it’s fine to run a few miles on Thursday, Dorfman recommends running only a mile on Saturday to make sure you’re rested for Sunday. Swimming in the pool or light yoga on the beach can also be good alternatives.

And when race day comes, make sure you “listen to your body,” Swartzon said.

This story was originally published January 25, 2023 4:03 PM.

Michelle Marchante is the health reporter for the Miami Herald. She previously covered all things Florida for the Herald as a Real Time/Breaking News Reporter. She graduated cum laude from Florida International University, where she was editor-in-chief of Student Media PantherNOW. She previously worked as a news writer at WSVN Channel 7 and was a 2020-2021 Poynter-Koch Media & Journalism fellow.