Specific physical training is the most important in your marathon training plan. But the diet is a basis that has to be in place to get the best out of your training. To run at your best and to get the best out of your body and mind on particular the race day, you have to develop good diets.
We are all unique, therefore it’s important that you use your own personal experiences and during training over a period, you will find out what fits you best in eating and drinking before and during a marathon race.
In this blog about the best race day diet to complete the Marathon I want to talk about the basic knowledge about marathon diets and what you can do in the months up to- and in the marathon race. My first marathon race was not fun because I didn’t think about these conditions. So, my last half part of the marathon race was 25 minutes slower than the first half part. I lost 6% of my body weight in 3 hours and 21 minutes and suffered a lot in the last 2 kilometers.
How to Maximize your Energy up to- and in the Marathon Race
So, how do you maximize your energy to run your best marathon race?
Since our daily life consists of habits that we have developed, we have to start at least 2 months before the race day.
It takes practice and experience to figure out what kind of food and fluid that works well for you – and your stomach – especially before and during the marathon race. Therefore, start considering and practicing the 3 points of your Marathon diet plan a few months before the race:
1. What will you eat and drink the day before the Marathon?
Some of us just skip breakfast every day because we are busy or we just take a cup of coffee. But this time it’s important to consider this question. Maybe you have heard about one of the great traditions of marathon races, the dinner the day before the race. This “carbohydrate” dinner the evening before your race is a great place to socialize and meet your fellow competitors and marathon runners too. The social aspects aside the dinner, has been acclaimed as essential to fill up your energy depots.
Several plates of pasta, bread and salad are a common sight on these occasions. However, maybe you do not really need all of that food. You do want to eat a high carbohydrate meal the evening before your race since it is important for maximizing the carbohydrate depots in your body and thereby the performance but avoid overeating. However, all that food can also disrupt your sleeping pattern and even make you a bit sluggish on the race morning. So, enjoy your last dinner, but do not eat too much.
2. What will you eat and drink in the morning before the Marathon?
In the morning before you should not eat something else from what you have trained in eating. On race day you cannot do something different from what you are used to eating, since the time is too short in changing food and fluid habits – and I think on your stomach.
3. What and how often you will eat and drink during the marathon race?
Today, you can get gels and other energy products to keep your energy where it needs to be for a long time. That will keep your energy level high if you have practiced different food and fluid composition, particularly in the long run. And that is a point here…
Use your long runs (LSD) to practice your food and fluid intake
You can Use a fluid belt if Necessary. Maybe clean water works for you or maybe a 5-6 % Sugar solution in your bottles fits your needs. By Experimenting in the long runs, you will over time figure out:
• What breakfast works for you and how it should be eaten before the run
• How you can manage toilet visits before the run
• How to get enough fluid and the type of fluid, even the day before a run
• What type of energy product you like to take on the runs. Today you can get Gels, bars and other energy products, which are easier to store on the body than big bananas and apples.
• In Practice you will learn How to store and consume your energy products during running
t’s is also crucial that you train in taking energy while running at your marathon pace. There is a big difference in the intake of a gel and a glass of water from a fluid depot at jogging pace and in your marathon pace. To Make sure that you get the food and fluid, you maybe have to walk a little. Using a couple of seconds with slowing down the pace does not matter in the end anyway – and you got what you really needed.
The day before the race
So, if you follow the tips above you can be sure that your carbohydrates depots are filled. Now you have to focus on two things: Rest Fluid and carbohydrate intake As mentioned in “The carbohydrate dinner” you should do that if you want but don’t overeat, and it’s not a good idea to change too much on your daily food and drinking intake the day before, since your stomach can work against you. But if you have followed a plan in about 2 months it should not be a problem.
Race day breakfast
On race day, you must get a good carbohydrate-based breakfast that you know works best for you. The strategy is clear: Don’t eat or drink anything you haven’t tried before because you have developed good habits and changing that on race day is not a good idea.
Breakfast on race day could be:
• Oatmeal with fruit and sugar.
• Oatmeal with raisins, banana, sugar or syrup.
• Bread with honey and a piece of fruit.
• Drink 1 – 1½ liter of water It doesn’t have to be an energy drink if you have extra sugar in your breakfast.
• A cup of coffee is a good idea so you can get on the toilet before the race start.
Don’t drink too much an hour before the race, because the water will disturb your stomach and you should urinate shortly after the race start. Many have extra pee cravings due to nervousness.
Unless you are a top-elite runner, you need to consume energy during a marathon.
Remember: You only have carbohydrate depots in the body for 1 -1½ hours of running. If you completely empty your carbohydrate depots, you hit the “wall” so you need to intake energy during the race before this happens and also keep a proper pace during all the race.
On average, a maximum of 60 grams of sugar (glucose) and 1 liter of fluid per hour can be taken into your system. This corresponds to a maximum of 3 gels/bananas / and 3-4 cups water per hour. In a warm environment, the body will absorb less sugar.
It requires training absorbing 3 gels per hour. So, if you do not know for sure how much you can consume, try for example 2 per hour. It is probably too much for most people, and you would much rather be without sugar than have stomach aches and dehydrate.
Do you want gels, bars or bananas? You can consider these questions below in choosing energy products:
- Accept that you have to do your own experiences and that you maybe don’t hit the right food and fluid composition in your first marathon.
- The technique here is about the method of taking food and fluid and the time spent on the intake.
- Digestion (the time you spend on digesting products and whether it works for your stomach) Carbohydrate distribution (fruit and sugar are hard for the stomach and 25 grams per hour is max. So, make sure you consume and mix carbohydrates. You could try dried fruits
- Keep your food and fluid plan simple
Enjoy Your Marathon Race
You now have the opportunity to prepare a diet in the time up to- and during a marathon. Knowing that you are also prepared for this area in addition to the physical training, should make you more relaxed before the marathon start. You know you have done your best in the preparations for your marathon run.
I hope you like this blog and if you have any questions about this topic or want to leave your own Personal review, please leave a comment below.