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Diet Tips for Full Marathon Runners: The Essential Guide

Posted on Feb 21, 2017

Diet Tips for Full Marathon Runners: The Essential Guide

As important as your training regime and mental preparedness are for proper marathon preparation, your diet is just as important. You have pushed through the workouts and the never ending practice runs, making it to the week of the marathon without any injury; now is the time that you start fueling your body correctly for the upcoming run.

Not Experimenting with Your Nutrition Strategy

Changes on clothing, training, and pacing are not recommended in the five days that lead up to a marathon. The same rule applies to your nutrition strategy.

It is very common for people to get nervous in the last days, which basically stems from not knowing what to do, which generally leads to people being persuaded to try something new; but remember to not experiment with new food at this time.

Though your exact diet would vary, depending on your metabolism, there are a few rules that can help you fix your diet plan in the week leading up to the marathon.

Day 5 to Day 3, before the Race: The Carb Intake

Don’ts: A very old idea is to deplete your body’s carbohydrate stores, a week before the marathon, to try to trick your body into storing more fuel. This is an outdated idea, and not the best way to go.

Dos: Increase your carb intake about 5 days before your run. Add more starches and carbs (like pastas) to your diet.

Carb-rich foods to include in your diet at this time:

Breakfast: Oatmeal, quinoa, bagels and peanut butter

Lunch: Whole grains, sandwiches, brown rice

Dinner: Baked potatoes, pastas, and sweet potatoes

The running practice tends to slow down around this time to avoid injury before the marathon, so you need to avoid eating too much.

Day 2, before the Race: Avoiding Big Meals

Don’ts: Don’t have a large meal for at least 2 days before your race; it will leave you stuffed, lethargic and feeling bloated.

Dos: 85 to 95 per cent of your diet should still be carbs/

Foods that marathoners prefer for the last big meal:

Breakfast: Oats with skim milk and dry fruits (like raisins), whole wheat bread with jam and fruits, a bagel and orange juice

Lunch: Rice, baked potatoes, sourdough bread, oatmeal cookies

Dinner: Pasta, a healthy pizza, beans

1 Day to Go, before the Race: Normal Diet

Don’ts: Avoid too much activity and do not try to eat too much

Dos: Drink a lot of liquids, especially electrolyte fluids

Some foods that are considered good for this day:

Breakfast: Bagel with a banana, cereal with skim milk

Lunch: White rice, bananas, fresh fruit, salad

Dinner: Pastas (in normal amounts), sweet potatoes, soup with crackers

18 Hours to Go, before the Race: Frequent Meals

Don’ts: Don’t eat fried food, nuts, fats, red meat, dairy products, roughage, too much salt, and fiber

Dos: After lunch on the day before the race, eat small, but frequent meals ever 2-3 hours. Also, keep yourself hydrated with electrolytes.

Foods you can include in your diet during this period: Bread, cereals, small sandwiches, energy bars.

Race Day: Breakfast

Don’ts: Though you need to keep hydrated, too much liquid is also not good for you. Sip your water when needed, and don’t gulp it down.

Dos: Get up at least three hours before your race and have a healthy breakfast, so your body has time to digest it.

What your breakfast can include: Eat about 150 grams carbs; yogurt, fruits, bagel, oatmeal, sports drinks, etc.

By this time, you probably have your preparation for the full marathon down to a basic schedule that works for you. Stick with what you know, and follow these diet tips to make sure you aren’t knocked down during your run.