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Marathon Q&A: Darryl Tannenbaum

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Dr. Darryl Tannenbaum
Dr. Darryl Tannenbaum

Dr. Darryl Tannenbaum is a board certified orthopedic surgeon with Columbus Regional Health’s Joint and Spine Center and Southern Indiana Orthopedics. Tannenbaum has run in more than 20 races, completing the six World Major Marathons in places that include Boston, Berlin, London and Tokyo. He hopes to complete a marathon on every continent and plans to run one in Antarctica in March. Got a question for the doctor? Send it to

Q: I have run many 5K and 10K races but am new to the marathon (26.2 miles) distance. What are the best nutrition and hydration options to use around my workouts?

A: Timing of nutrition and hydration can be just as important as what you consume. Smart preparation and recovery are keys to continue building fitness, preventing injury and repairing broken-down muscle.

After a difficult workout or 10 miles-plus run, wait no more than 30 minutes and have a small meal. Two hours later, eat again. Don’t eat too quickly as it can be a shock to your system. Wait too long after a hard workout, and you will not receive the maximum benefit for your muscles to recover.

Choose high-glycemic carbohydrates as the backbone of your 30-minute-post nutrition as they are absorbed quickly and get the body started on recovering. Some examples of high-glycemic carbs are pretzels, bagels and white bread. Two hours later, eat a meal baked, grilled or sautéed with vegetables, slow-burning carbohydrates like whole grain pasta, and protein such as 6 ounces of fish or tofu and healthy fat.

Hydration is much more interesting. Most sports drinks are very good at hydrating the body before and during workouts. Post-training, have you ever considered chocolate milk?

A scientific study looked at the best beverages for post-exercise hydration in elite cyclists and discovered that chocolate milk contains the near perfect balance of fast-absorbing proteins, such as whey protein, and slow-absorbing proteins, like casein, that reduce the amount of muscle breakdown. Irecommend you supplement with one glass of chocolate milk after a long run for recovery. Chocolate milk is not recommended for hydration immediately before or during a marathon.

Runners were given the green light to drink as much as necessary to prevent dehydration and decrease the risk for a serious heat illness. However, drinking large amounts of any fluid can cause GI distress.

Research has consistently shown that runners perform no worse when they simply drink according to their thirst. Don’t ignore thirst, don’t force fluids and don’t worry about a milk mustache!

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