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Marathon Training Tips

Week Before

  • High carbohydrate. Maintain at least a 55% carbohydrate diet for the first 4 days of the week, then increase it to 70% carbohydrate in the three days prior to race day.
  • Lean protein. Aim to get .5-.6g/lb of protein from lean meats, fish, and vegetable protein.  Examples of lean meat include chicken breast (without the skin) and trimmed beef.
  • Unsaturated fats.  Include vegetable oils, nuts, and fish.  Fat from animal sources is high in saturated fat.  Avoid trans fats altogether.
  • Lower fiber.  As you increase carbohydrate intake, the additional fiber could cause gastrointestinal distress.
  • Stay full. Since your carbohydrate intake will be very high during the last week of training, you should feel full most of the time.  Eat at regular intervals throughout the day (3 meals and 2-3 snacks).

Day Before

  • Ignore any weight gain! You may gain about 1-3 lbs and most of this is water weight, since carbohydrates retain water.
  • Stay hydrated.  Carry water with you everywhere and if need be, set an alarm to consume fluid at regular intervals throughout the day.
  • Eat a large lunch. Some find that eating a very large dinner the night before causes discomfort in the morning but you can avoid it by having a large lunch instead.
  • Avoid: anything new, alcohol, unusual foods, or restaurants you’ve never been to.
  • Plan your marathon day breakfast. Planning ahead will make the morning less stressful and ensure that you have plenty of food for fuel.
  • Pack Your Bag. Know your race and the location of fuel stations along.  Plan any additional snacks you need and pack your bag the night before.
  • Low fat food. You need the extra carbohydrates but don’t want excess calories.
  • Low fiber.  Having some fiber promotes regular bowel movements but have too much the night before and you may be running to the bathroom instead of the finish line.
  • Continue to eat a 70% carbohydrate diet.  If possible, increase your carbohydrate intake to as much as 4.5g/lb.

**If you are diabetic, consult a physician before increasing your carbohydrate intake, even if it is just prior to the day of a marathon.**

Race Day

  • Stick with your plan. Don’t try any foods for the first time.
  • Pre-race food ideas: bread, bagel, cereal, fruit, smoothie, low-fat milk, low-fat cheese, peanut or almond butter (not too much though).  The more liquid and easier-to-digest these foods are, the better. Don’t try anything new!
  • Liquid carbohydrates in the hour before.  Assuming you have eaten a substantial breakfast, ensure that you get enough fluid!
  • Have 30-60g of carbohydrates per hour during the race. Examples include an energy gel (such as Gu/Clif Blok) or 18 oz of Gatorade.
  • Recovery: eat carbohydrate and protein as soon as possible after the race.  Ideally, you should eat within 15 minutes and again within 2 hours.  A good recovery drink is chocolate milk, as it has both the carbohydrates and protein you need.

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