Running a marathon? Here’s what you should eat.

I was never a fan of running outside; it felt like running without a purpose. That completely changed when a good friend of mine asked me to join her running group, then participate in a 5K and 10K race. My friend told me that the money raised from the race will go to a local charity, so I was extra motivated. I took part in the 5K race. The atmosphere was amazing and encouraging; I finished in sub 27 minutes. I was so excited. I then decided to continue participating in races. Since then, I have participated in over 7 races, 3 of them being half marathons. I ran my last half marathon last year and I made a promise to myself that I will step it up and run a full marathon next. Let me share what I learned about eating habits whilst training for a marathon. 

As I prepare for my first marathon, I have to change the way that I eat. It’s important to know the foods that I should eat and the foods I should stay away from. A marathon is 42.125 km (26.2 miles), meaning I will have to be running for about 4:14-4:30 hours (according to my average pace). I need to make sure that my body is fully fueled so I don’t hit a wall while running.

Food is very important when it comes to sports, especially if you are doing a high intensity sport–like running a full marathon! As much as training is important for your body, planning what to eat a week before the marathon is just as important. Many people focus more on the physical training and neglect planning their meals–which often proves to be to their disadvantage because they end up hitting a wall during their race.

How to food prep for a marathon:

Carbo-Loading: eating as many carbs as you can before the race so that your body stores it in your muscles to use as energy during the race. You should know what works and what doesn’t work with your body, that’s why you should start at least 2 months before by testing things out.

Marathon Pasta

 

2 months before the marathon:

Prior to your long runs, try different kinds of carbs: pasta, potatoes, rice, and oatmeal in order to see what works well, and what doesn’t, for your stomach.  You definitely do not want to be surprised on race day.

1 week before the marathon:

Start increasing your carbohydrate intake by adding more starch to your diet throughout the week. Make sure that you consume a much higher percentage than your total daily calories in order to make sure that carbohydrates are sufficient and stored in your muscles.

Examples of food to eat: Sweet potatoes, pasta, baked potatoes, brown rice, sandwiches, bagels with peanut butter, quinoa, whole grains, oatmeal

Marathon Oatmeal

 

2 days before the marathon:

The biggest last meal should be two nights/days before marathon day. It will give your body enough time to digest whatever you eat, store it in your body and not feel bloated on the morning of the marathon.

Example of food to eat: Pasta preferably with tomato sauce, other options includes rice, potatoes, and pizza.

Marathon PIzza

1 day before the marathon:

The day before the race is very important, you should be eating a well-balanced meal–like any other training day. Additionally, make sure to drink plenty of liquids all day. Hydration is very important for your body during race day. Make sure not to stuff yourself, as you won’t be active during the day.

Example of food to eat: Sweet potatoes, pastas, baked potatoes, white rice, bagel with banana

Race day!

You should have breakfast on race day, 3-4 hours before. Eating 3-4 hours before gives your body enough time to digest. Don’t stuff yourself though–it should be a small breakfast. Make sure to also hydrate and drink water or sport energy drinks.

Best marathon breakfast food: oatmeal with banana and coffee. Other options include bagel with peanut butter, toast with honey, or dry cereal.

Again, make sure to eat something you’ve had before, don’t surprise your body with something unfamiliar. 

Sandwich

As marathon season is approaching, you should start your training now! I am training for Beirut Marathon 2016 in November. Which one are you training for? Make sure to start your training and food planning from now! If you are busy and running out of ideas, make sure to book our chefs, they will be happy to help you with your food planning! Happy running!!