Health & Fitness

Marathon Training Diet Advice: How To Effectively Fuel Your Running

  • Jul 20, 2023
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Marathon Training Diet Advice: How To Effectively Fuel Your Running

There’s a lot more to following a diet suited to marathon training than just eating a lot of carbs – but as an incentive to keep reading this article, we can promise that you will be advised to eat lots of tasty, tasty carbs.

Along with ensuring you have the fuel you need to tackle the runs on your marathon training plan, your diet also needs to help you recover after runs and stay healthy in general. We spoke to Mike Naylor, head of nutrition at Marylebone Health, for expert advice on what to eat when preparing to run a marathon.

What are the key things to consider when planning a marathon training diet?

long runs or races, because that is going to be converted to muscle glycogen faster, and support your performance more effectively. 

Fibre can also fill you up a little bit more than other carbohydrate sources, and that can prevent or make it less easy to consume the amount of carbohydrates required to support your performance.

When should you eat your breakfast before long runs and races?

You want to be consuming a bigger breakfast around three hours before the start of the race. Something like Rice Krispies, because it’s just easy carbohydrates that you can consume to get into the system. Some people like porridge too, or toast with jam is quite good. 

Then have a small snack 20 to 30 minutes before the marathon, like a cereal bar. Most of the work would have been done in the two to three days leading into the race, where you increased the amount of carbohydrates you’re consuming. That increases the muscle glycogen and all you’re doing on the morning of the race is just refining your liver glycogen stores with that breakfast.

What’s a good example of a meal to help you recover after long runs?

You want carbohydrates and protein, and fluids to rehydrate. Chicken and rice is always a good option with some peas and broccoli. White rice is absorbed quickly and chicken will provide the protein – usually you want around a 30g serving of protein to help support muscle recovery. Then plenty of vegetables. If you want a dessert with it, some Greek yogurt with some bright berries is good. Maybe a bit of honey as well for a bit more carbohydrate. 

Some people struggle to eat after a run and that’s where things like recovery shakes can be useful. Or even homemade milkshakes – just something that’s providing fast and easy carbohydrates and protein to help initiate that recovery process.

About Our Expert

Mike Naylor

As well as being the head of nutrition for Marylebone Health, Mike Naylor is head of nutrition for the English Institute of Sport where he works with Team GB Olympians and Paralympians. Naylor has a BSc and an MSc in Sport and Exercise Science and is a SENr-registered sports nutritionist.

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