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Marathon Nutrition: The Day of the Event

School Of Nutrition Posted Apr 18, 2016 Future Fit Training


You've been training for months on the run up to this event and now the day is here. We take you through nutrition on race day with some examples.

Marathon Nutrition: The Day of the Event

Pre-Race Nutrition

Try to eat a low fat, high carbohydrates (LOW GI)  meal 2-3 hours before event. This allows time to digest. If nerves are causing problems eating try yoghurt and fruit based smoothie. At this time ideal carbohydrate intake can be calculated as 2.5g / kg body weight.

Ideas for pre-race breakfasts

  • Whole grain breakfast cereal with skimmed milk, fruit, toast and juice
  • Muffins or crumpets with fruit, yoghurt
  • Scrambled eggs, baked beans & wholemeal toast
  • Rolls and sandwiches with low fat filling, yoghurt, and fruit
  • Fruit smoothies or fruit flavoured yoghurts

Try to include a snack or drink 1 hour before race for extra boost of energy to help delay fatigue;

Pre-race snack ideas

  • dried fruit
  • low fat fruit yoghurt
  • cereal or energy bar
  • wholemeal jam sandwich
  • sports drink

Ensure you begin the race fully hydrated by consuming 5-7ml of fluid / kg body weight at least 4 hours prior to the start of the event.  Top up with 250 - 500mls of fluid 15-20 minutes before the race starts.

During the Race

Begin topping up with high GI carbohydrate levels after around 30 mins. Aim to consume around 50g of carbohydrate per hour of the race

Ideas for during an endurance event:

  • energy bars / gels
  • bananas
  • dried fruit
  • smoothies
  • isotonic sports drink

Drinking small amounts regularly helps reduce risk of gastric upset. Drinking too much water with carbohydrate snacks can delay the conversion to energy and deplete electrolytes so limit fluid intake to a maximum of 1 litre an hour and include a small amount of sodium (e.g. an isotonic sports drink).

After the Event

REJOICE! But don’t forgot the importance if proper recovery routine..

Aim to incorporate 60g of high GI carbohydrates within the first hour after and again in the second. This will maximise glycogen refuelling. Here are some examples of food combinations that can achieve this….

  • 330ml can vegetable (V8) juice, 3 Ryvita spread with honey, 100g fresh pineapple and a small  apple
  • 200ml orange juice and 2 slices of raisin bread
  • 100g grapes, 2 fig rolls and 150ml dilute squash
  • 200g drinking yoghurt and a fruit scone
  • 30g Cornflakes, 1 medium banana and 200ml low-fat milk
  • 1 crumpet and a teaspoon of jam and 500ml isotonic sports drink

3-4 Hours after the Event

Try and eat a substantial carbohydrate based meal (mixed GI) with some protein.

Ideas include:

  • Chicken and lentil casserole with boiled new potatoes
  • Prawn stir fry with wholemeal noodles and cashew nuts
  • Mild chicken & vegetable coconut curry with brown rice
  • Falafel in wholemeal pitta bread with salad and yoghurt & mint dressing
  • Mixed fish and vegetable kebabs served with wild rice
  • Chicken and Asparagus quinoa risotto
  • Wholemeal Tortilla wraps
  • Feta, mushroom and spinach omelette served with rye bread toast
  • Wholemeal base pizza with reduced fat mozzarella, ham, mushroom, peppers
  • Sweet potato topped chicken & vegetable pie

Begin replacing lost fluids as soon as possible.  Weigh yourself pre and post event and for every kg you have lost, this equates to 1 litre of fluid. Try and replace whatever has been lost by 150%.

Finally, rest and continue to eat low GI carbohydrate rich meals for the next week to replenish stores. 

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