What to eat before a marathon
How to properly fuel yourself for your next marathon.
You’ve done all the training, you’ve got all your kit, you’ve planned your travel, now all you need to do is make sure you’re effectively and fully fueled up for your marathon.
Marathon Golden Rule — Don’t try anything new on race day
You shouldn’t experiment with any new foods or any variation from your standard diet. It’s very easy in the last few days to get nervous and be persuaded by a friend to try something new or see something new at the race expo or stores. It’s important to stick to what you’re used to so you and your body are relaxed and comfortable.
5 days to go
With 5 days till the big race, you’ll want to start increasing your carbohydrate intake by adding in more starchy foods like pasta. Don’t get bought into the outdated notion of depleting your body of carbs for the week before and then overloading it just before the race to trick your body into storing more energy. This is an old and outdated idea that doesn’t work and can hinder performance.
One way to keep your carb levels up is to ensure that a higher percentage of your calorie intake are carbs.
Do bear in mind that in the last week, you won’t be running as much as you have been so eating too much will make you feel bloated and lethargic.
48 hours to go
Your last big meal should be two nights before the big race. This will give your body lots of time to deal with the food and make sure that you won’t feel bloated on the day of the run.
A common mistake is to load up on pasta and bread on the night before the race and end up feeling bloated.
24 hours to go
The day before the race, you’ll want to just have the kind of meal you would have on a normal training day. Make sure you keep your fluid intake up. Drinking lots of water is a necessity — you could always carry a bottle of water around with you during the day to remind yourself to keep hydrated.
Your meals should consist of simple carbs such as sweet potatoes, pastas or white rice. You shouldn’t be overly active the day before the race so you may feel full quite quickly. This is normal and you shouldn’t try to completely stuff yourself.
18 hours to go
In the last 18 hours, you’ll be wanting to keep yourself topped up with energy filled food like energy bars, bread and small sandwiches. Try and avoid red-meat, fried foods, dairy and fats as these will only fill you up with the wrong stuff.
Make sure you keep drinking lots of water and electrolyte drinks to keep your water and salt levels in the right place.
4 hours or less
Before the race, you’ll want to have a small breakfast nice and early, to give yourself more time to digest it before the starting gun goes off.
Keep yourself topped up with water, but be sure not to try and down as much as possible. The trick is drink little amounts often, instead of big gulps every now and then.
You may want to knock back an energy gel just before the race to give yourself that last bit of energy before embarking on this mammoth run.