What to eat before and during a marathon

It’s the London Marathon this weekend and quite a few of my clients have asked me for last-minute refreshers on what to eat on race day, so here’s some info and a video for all you truly amazing people running on Sunday. Total kudos to you!

Marathon day nutrition plan

The day before 

Yes, marathon day actually starts the day before! Throughout the day and the night before have high carbohydrate meals and snacks such as potatoes or pasta, cereal, bread and isotonic drinks. Stick to what you know and are used to though. This is not the time to experiment!

Have easily digestible carbs at each meal to get your stores topped up, but don’t force it down. You should be satisfied rather than stuffed. Smaller meals regularly through the day might work better than large meals.

Make sure you are properly hydrated. Your urine should be a pale straw colour.

On the day 

Stick to what you know works for you! You will (hopefully!) have figured this out from experimenting during training. 

2-4 hours before the event have a high-carb low-GI breakfast such as a biggish bowl of porridge and a banana and a handful of raisins, or 3 slices of granary toast with sliced banana and jam. Everyone is different so if you know you need longer or less time to digest your breakfast, that’s fine.

1 hour before (but not much less than one hour before) have a cereal bar with 20-40g of carbs in it. 

Again your urine should be a pale straw colour. Start hydrating as soon as you get up, sipping water. In the 2 hours before, aim to have at least 500ml water.

During the event 

As soon as you begin, start sipping an isotonic drink. Aim to sip one 500ml bottle over an hour and take about 6-10 sips every 10 minutes. You should aim to have 500ml of fluids for every hour you are running. Your sweat rate will determine how much fluid you need to replenish, so if it’s hot or you’re sweating a lot you will need to have more water.

You could also take a few cereal bars with you to eat along the way for if you get hungry.

After the race

Have a high-carb meal such as 250ml orange juice and a sandwich and some fruit, within an hour to help your recovery (although by this point you have accomplished your mission and can do whatever you want!)