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Monday, February 13, 2012
Updated: February 15, 10:07 AM ET
Sage advice: Train your tummy

By Becky O'Neill
Special to espnW

The expert:
Leslie J. Bonci, M.D.

Running résumé:
Sport nutritionist Dr. Leslie Bonci helps athletes leverage the power of food for optimal performance. Among her many posts, Dr. Bonci serves as Nutrition Consultant to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Director of Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Sport Medicine, and member of the U.S. Olympic Committee's sports nutrition network. In between, she writes a regular blog for Runner's World and is co-author of "Run Your Butt Off" -- a beginner's guide to lacing up your sneaks for a leaner, healthier life.

Sage advice:
Train your tummy. Trying new foods on race day is a recipe for disaster. So spend these last few weeks test-driving anything you plan to eat or drink -- from your prerun meal and midrun fuel to lots of hydrating along the way. As you do, keep these guidelines in mind:

• For breakfast, go heavy on carbs (the energy source you'll tap into when things get tough) about 90 minutes before the start. Popular picks include oatmeal, a bagel with peanut butter or a waffle and honey.

• During the race, you'll need another 30-60 grams of carbohydrates somewhere after the first hour (the amount in a packaged gel or two of those small, paper cups of sports drink they'll be handing out along the course). Remember, adding calories on the move can be a shock to your stomach, so be sure to experiment with this, too.

• Last, but certainly not least, practice hydrating. Feel free to pass on water stations for the first 60 minutes, but start drinking after that, alternating water and sports drinks. Also, use your remaining runs learning to gulp, not sip. Big swigs gets liquid through the stomach faster, keeping you more hydrated, less bloated, and better primed for your soon-to-be photo finish.

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