What To Eat When You’re Prepping For A Marathon


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When you’re training for a marathon, your diet becomes key to to your success on the race day. In order to get the best results, an adequate diet is a must.

Fuelling for training is fundamental for best performance. The main fuel for preparation is carbohydrate, which is stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen, which the body draws upon for energy. The body is only able to stock a moderately small amount of carbohydrate, which is why keeping it topped up is so essential.

Here are some questions that a lot of marathon trainers have when they’re preparing.

Should I eat before an early morning run and if so, what should I eat?

You should eat pre workout meal, if possible, before your morning run, especially if it's over one hour in duration. Many people find this tough, but it is important to 'train your gut' for the big day, especially on longer runs.

There are two morning situations to plan for:

1. The early riser

If you wake up two hours before your run, good options include oats + milk , wholegrain toast topped with beans, granola, whey protein powder + oats + milk  or breakfast items like milk and poha or milk and upma

2. Straight out of bed

If you wish to get straight on the floor with minimal fuss, try a easy small snack with fast releasing energy such as dried fruits like dates, apricots, figs or  whole fruit like banana or apple or fresh fruit, nuts and seeds or a shake. If you are really finding it difficult to eat first thing, try rising the carbohydrate portion in dinner , as this will be stored in the muscles ready for your morning run.

What food should I definitely avoid before a run?

To ensure that you’re getting sufficient amount of energy, foods should be significantly high in carbohydrates but you should also eat food which are easy for your gut and make you comfortable while exercising try to limit the following foods

What to avoid...

  • Foods very high in fibre

  • Drinking too much caffeine

  • Alcohol

  • Excessively fatty foods

  • Spicy foods

Two hours prior to a run, avoid above mentioned foods because these are well known causes of gastrointestinal issues such as bowel upsets.

On the day of the race, when should I eat before the race and what should I eat?

What you plan to eat on the morning of your race day should relate with a total fuelling strategy that you have developed during your training. Eat a meal 2 hours before the start of the race,

Wholesome breakfast options for the morning of your race may include:

  • Cereal based Pancakes (oats chilla) and mixed toppings, such as fruits and nuts

  • Oats porridge with milk or soy milk

  • Multigrain bread topped with low fat cheese

  • Fruit salad and yogurt or banana and curd

  • Fruit juice or a fruit smoothie


How much water is to be consumed by a runner?

There is no golden rule for how much water one should drink.  Drink according to your thirst. As long as you keep an satisfactory supply of a palatable drink available during your runs, you will naturally drink enough to enhance your performance if you just drink as often and as much as your thirst dictates.

But preferably 250 ml pre run, during run and post run can help a runner to prevent dehydration and muscle fatigue. You can also can add energy drink to replenish loss of electrolytes, especially sodium and potassium. You can have one glass of sports drink or glass of five to six drops of lime water with sugar and salt.