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Marathon Nutrition with Elite Runner Sara Hall

Marathon Nutrition with Elite Runner Sara Hall

Sara Hall is the 3rd fastest women's marathon runner in American history and has finished top 10 in a number of marathons over her career. Sara is setting the standard for consistency and longevity, and a key part of running her best times is nailing her marathon nutrition.

"As a human biology major, I understand that what I put into my body is key to helping me perform my best," she says. "Since I started training with UCAN, I've run the fastest marathons of my life." Here is an inside look at the many ways Sara uses UCAN and how it is helping her run the best races of her life.



1) For Peak Performance on Race Day and in Training

The final 10 miles of the marathon are when the race really happens - when great performances are forged or when athletes crumble. Sara had an incredibly strong second half in London, which she said was made possible because of her UCAN fueling plan. “UCAN is a higher performing carbohydrate. I felt very fueled and could feel the steady release of energy throughout the race,” says Sara. “I used to use a maltodextrin-based carb, but since switching to UCAN a few years ago, I’ve been able to finish my races stronger than ever and I’ve run all of my fastest marathons.”

The energy source that powers UCAN is called LIVSTEADY, a very complex carbohydrate that breaks down at a steady rate over time, almost like a time-released source of energy. Most sports nutrition is composed of simple sugars or maltodextrin, which provide a spike and crash effect, and you’re left managing the “sugary roller coaster.” If you have a misstep in your fueling protocol, then you might end up running out of energy or "hitting the wall.”

“I much prefer a product like UCAN," says Sara, "since you’re getting carbohydrates from a more complex source that’s going to give you a slow release of energy versus the spike and crash that sugar will give you. Being a human biology major, I have a deep appreciation for what makes UCAN unique and compelling.”

Sara has Cookies & Cream Protein + Energy as her pre-run meal before her marathons or long runs to load her muscles with glycogen and sips on a bottle of Cran-Raz UCAN Energy leading up to the race/workout start. She relies on UCAN to fuel all of her hard training, whether it's on the road or in the gym.


2) To Reduce Sugar Consumption

Training hard is inflammatory, and too much inflammation can be detrimental to adaptation and recovery, so athletes (especially those in peak marathon training) need to be cognizant of reducing inflammation from other sources, such as sugar. “Recovery has been a big focus of my career. I consider it one of my strengths, and a big part of that is nutrition,” says Sara. “I try to eat healthy and give my body what it needs. UCAN aligns perfectly with that philosophy."

Sara knows first-hand how beneficial a no-sugar diet can be from her daughters. Sara and her husband Ryan Hall adopted four sisters from Ethiopia, and when they brought them home to the U.S., none of them had ever brushed their teeth before. “I expected it to be carnage,” says Sara, "but when the dentist checked them out, none of them had a single cavity." The dentist inquired about the girls’ eating patterns back in Ethiopia and discovered that they had nearly zero sugar their entire lives.

It clicked for Sara, in that moment, how detrimental sugar can be. It’s one reason why Sara uses UCAN nutrition, which contains little or no sugar depending on the product, and why she was so willing to give it a try when Meb Keflezighi, her neighbor at the time, handed her some. Sara has UCAN Energy Bars as snacks instead of sugary alternatives, and recovers from her hard workouts by taking UCAN Energy + Protein, a recovery drink with no added sugar. 


3) For Better Sleep

“Treat your body like a human battery by recharging it,” suggests Sara. “I try to be really good about the little things, like sleeping really well. Two people can be doing the same training, but how much you’re benefiting is going to vary depending on what you do outside of your marathon training.” Keeping up with the metabolism of a mother of four who is an elite marathoner running 100+ miles per week is no small task.

One of the greatest disruptors of sleep is hunger, and Sara would often find herself waking up in the middle of the night feeling hungry. One thing that Sara has had success with is having a UCAN Energy + Protein shake before bed, which helps her sleep more soundly. “Taking a UCAN shake before bed has really helped my sleep quality. The combination of a slow-release carbohydrate and protein is something your muscles can feed on throughout the night.”

Athletes come to UCAN for various reasons, but for Sara, it’s for the long-lasting energy that UCAN gives her to finish strong in her marathon training and races, and for better recovery on all the days in between.

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