Pre Marathon Nutrition
So race time is just around the corner. You’ve already been through the highs and lows of preparing for this challenge, maybe picked up a small injury and experienced the mental battle that comes with staying motivated to train. After all this effort there is one last hurdle to clear before you can stand on the starting line feeling ready to go! Proper pre-marathon nutrition can be a key factor in having a successful run. Knowing what to eat and when to eat it can give your body the fuel it needs to reach the finish line.
First, make sure you’re eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet containing plenty of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Carbohydrates include: sweet potatoes, pastas, baked potatoes, brown rice, bagels with peanut butter, quinoa, whole grains and oatmeal. Eating a variety of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats in the days and weeks leading up to the marathon can help you store up the energy you’ll need.
Avoid overly processed or sugary foods, which lack fiber and can spike your blood sugar. These types of foods can also cause inflammation and reduce recovery time, also increasing the risk of injury. The evening before the race, focus on eating a high-carb meal such as a whole-wheat pasta dish or a bowl of oatmeal. This helps to top off your energy stores and provide a sense of fullness and satisfaction.
The number one rule is that you never try anything new on race day! Continue to eat foods that you know your body can digest easily and not to try anything new the morning of the race. You’ll also want to stay hydrated—opt for water and electrolytes rather than sugary beverages. On race day, it’s important to eat something in the morning to provide energy for your body to use during the race. Some athletes like to stick to a small carbohydrate-rich snack, such as a banana or toast with peanut butter, but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Experiment with different foods to see what works best for you. Avoid heavy, greasy, or fatty foods, as they can cause stomach issues while you’re running.
You’ll also want to make sure to refuel with a meal or snack soon after the race. Eating a combination of carbohydrates and protein can help replenish your energy stores, promote muscle recovery and repair, and reduce post-race fatigue. Sodium is actually a good thing at this point due to the amount lost during the race. When crossing the finish line in the New York Marathon in 2008 I remember being given a sachet of salt by one of the nurses as I was suffering from dehydration.
By following these guidelines for pre-marathon nutrition, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. With the right fuel, preparation and planning you can make it to the finish line and beyond!