Tara Gidus

Fueling for Dopey and Goofy Challenges

Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend is just around the corner, are you ready for the distance and multiple races back to back? Whether you're running one race or all four, nutrition before, during, and after the races is key to getting to the finish line and beyond.

If you're running long two or more days in a row, the recovery meal after the first race is critical for running performance the following day. To finish the Dopey Challenge and Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge feeling strong, always remember the 3 R's of recovery: Refuel, Rebuild, and Rehydrate.

1. Refuel. As you are running, you are using your muscle fuel or glycogen stores for energy. This fuel needs to be replaced within 30 minutes of crossing the finish line. For optimal recovery, eat about half of your body weight in grams of carbohydrate.

2. Rebuild. Most runners know they need carbs, but protein is just as important for repairing muscle damaged during exercise. Protein also helps the body to replenish glycogen stores faster. Eat about 10-20 grams of protein after you finish to speed recovery and reduce muscle soreness within an hour after the race. Then have more protein at your next meal a few hours later.

3. Rehydrate. Hydration is important for performance and essential for a proper recovery. If you lose weight after the race, drink 16-24 ounces of fluid per pound of weight loss and replenish until you achieve your pre-race weight. Don't forget to drink and eat enough electrolytes, sodium and potassium after your race to prevent dehydration and cramping the following day.

Timing is key. The sooner you eat and drink after each race the better you will do with recovery and refueling to get ready for the next race the following day. Drink water or sports drink as soon as you finish. Eat or drink carbs and a little bit of protein within 30 minutes. A banana and a handful of nuts would be great, or go for a chocolate milk or smoothie with some protein added.

After your snack within 30 minutes, try to get a full meal with complex carbs, protein, and fruits and/or vegetables within two hours after the race. The rest of the day you should be eating primarily carbs with some protein and fruits/vegetables at every meal. Drink as much as you can until your urine is barely yellow or clear. Avoid alcohol for the best results!

My last bit of advice: Eat early and go to bed early. 3 a.m. comes around really early many days in a row. Make dinner reservations for 4 p.m. and then relax in your room to make it an early bedtime. Eat a bagel, cereal, or some other kind of carbohydrate in the morning along with a banana and some protein before the races.

Enjoy the challenge and report back how you did!

Question or comments? Tweet me @DietDivaTara.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus Collingwood is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.