Fatigue can be a serious stumbling block for a runner, especially now when you need to start increasing your distance training in preparation for the Cape Town Marathon in September. Follow these smart tips for sustained energy. By Andrea du Plessis

Fatigue can be caused by multiple factors. First!, rule out or address medical factors such as illness, low blood pressure or low iron levels. After that, see which of the following lifestyle factors you can modify to help sustain your energy:


If you are not resting enough, you will not be able to stay energised and fatigue will make you fail. Make sure to sleep at least 6-8 hours per night. On days when you are sleep deprived, take it easy with your running intensity.

Did you know? Chamomile tea is a natural remedy that promotes peaceful sleep. It naturally contains sleep-promoting or mild sedative components which also help to reduce anxiety.


Don’t train on an empty tank – you need to practice running & eating anyway, as for race day.

Pre-run snack meal:

If you have not had a substantial meal before your training, opt for a banana, fruit yoghurt, slice of toast, muesli bar or a snack meal of your choice at least 60-90 minutes before a long run.

How low GI can you go?

Low glycemic index (GI) carbohydrate foods keep energy levels sustained for longer. Low GI bread or cereal are ideal for meals before long runs.  Add fats and proteins to bread to lower the overall GI of a sandwich: avocado, pesto, cottage cheese, grated cheese, boiled egg and peanut butter are firm favourites.

During the run:

To sustain your energy for training of 1-2 hours or longer, take with some energy supplements in the form of energy syrups or energy gels, an energy bar or energy drink.


Use energy supplements and tonics mindfully. To avoid using harmful or banned substances, consult a registered dietitian or ask your pharmacist for advice.

Energy Drinks

Sports drinks and rehydration drinks are ideal to use during long distance or long duration training sessions.


Caffeine found in cola drinks, coffee, some sports supplements and energy tonics, provide an energy boost about 30 minutes after taking it. Even though it works over the short-term, be careful to overuse it long-term, as it could contribute to burn-out fatigue, due to overstimulating your energy levels for too long.


What can it do for you?

Fatigue resistance

Regular exercise increases the natural energy turnover in the body. With increased energy turnover, the amount of B-vitamins utilized in the biochemical processes of energy generation is increased. Failing to replenish these critical B-vitamins after exercise is likely to cause fatigue, simply because the body cannot convert energy fast enough to meet the high demands during physical activity.

Enhance sports performance:

B-vitamins facilitate conversion of energy from the foods we eat, into muscle power.

ATP, as the energy currency for exercise, is generated from the mitochondria inside our muscle cells. B-vitamins participate in the biochemical reactions where energy is converted into a format that the muscle cells can use.

How much and how?

Vitamin B-complex or multivitamin supplement

Toast with Marmite or Bovril

When is best to take it?

At least 1 hour before exercise, or the night before if you feel queasy taking a supplement on an empty stomach.

Did you know?

B-vitamins cannot provide energy – energy (measured in kilojoules) is derived from carbohydrates, fats and protein in our diets.

B-vitamins facilitate conversion of energy from the foods we eat, into muscle power.

For more information, visit: http://www.capetownmarathon.com/ ; www.fedhealth.co.za

For any nutrition related questions, visit: www.facebook.com/andreaduplessis.nutrition.expert


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.