With only 30 days to go before the starter’s gun signals the beginning of the hotly anticipated Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, Vital has some tips to ensure that race day is a great success.

1. Protein

Your main area of concern should be your muscles, which have been working harder than usual during your training and will be giving it their all on race day. Introducing some simple ingredients and supplements into your daily diet can help with muscle repair, ensure muscle endurance and combat muscle fatigue.

“In the last two months before the marathon, you’ll be running longer distances, and your muscles will be going beyond their comfort zone,” says Andrea du Plessis, Vital Health Foods’ nutrition expert and a Sanlam Cape Town Marathon runner. “After each training session, you need to maximise your recovery for the next session, and whey protein is a great way to do this.”

2. Nitrate

Nitrate is converted into nitric oxide by the body and plays a huge role in reducing the amount of oxygen needed for endurance performance, thereby combating muscle fatigue. “Raw beetroot is a rich source of nitrate, an essential ingredient in building fatigue resistance,” explains Du Plessis. Your body requires about 300mg of inorganic nitrates daily, and 110ml of beetroot juice will do the trick.


Rocket is another rich source of nitric oxide – and what could be a more delicious way of getting it to your muscles than in a salad with beetroot, feta and toasted pumpkin seeds?

4. Caffeine

Caffeine is another “magic bullet” to combat fatigue. “Due to its effects on energy metabolism, it helps decrease fatigue perception,” says Du Plessis. The best time to get your caffeine fix is 30-60 minutes before exercise – you need an optimum amount of 4mg caffeine for every kilogram of body weight, which you can get from sports drinks, chewable tablets and energy gels.

It’s very important not to change your eating plan on race day. “Listen to your body, and give it what it became used to during your training,” says Du Plessis. If you don’t normally eat breakfast before runs, make sure you have a substantial dinner the night before, ideally containing both protein and carbohydrates. If you are a breakfast-eater, keep it simple, as race-day jitters can make your digestive system sensitive – cereal with milk, toast with peanut butter or a boiled egg are ideal.

5. Magnesium

Running the full 42,2km distance for the first time on race day is going to be a challenge. Your muscles will be under immense pressure, and you must guard against fatigue, pain and cramps. The loss of magnesium and electrolytes contributes to these conditions. “I recommend that you take a Vital VÖOST Magnesium effervescent tablet before the race to give your muscles a boost,” says Du Plessis.

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