Marathoners - pre- and during race diet(12 Posts)
In the lead up:
Carbo loading - what's that then? Reading that I need to do this for three days beforehand - lots of wholegrain carbs and protein, and cut back on fruit and veg. I'm veggie - is this going to be an issue or am I resigned to eating chicken (I don't really have an ethical issue with eating meat in itself)? Anyone care to share their fave meals in the lead up?
On the day:
How early before do I eat? Low GI breakfast? Porridge etc (carbs)? Or eggs etc (protein)? A mix? How much should I be drinking? Am I necking espressos? Red Bull? Any thoughts?
Max distance run so far is 11.5 miles (1hr 50min or so) and I'm realising that I'm going to have start taking on water and sugar (and maybe caffeine) to run longer. So energy gels - any recommendations?
How do I make sure I don't need a poo halfway through? There are no toilet stops on my route (Manchester marathon) and the website says "Run faster then". What are the options here? I could probably, if utterly necessary, pee down my legs but not anything solid.
Lots of questions - thanks for any insight/answers.
Ok, doing my first marathon too (London) so reading the same things! Not sure on the carb loading, I've heard conflicting things. I think you have to be careful not to overdo it! Just increase carbs a bit that week and be careful not to eat a huge pile of pasta the night before that sits like a load of concrete when you're trying to run!
On the day I plan to eat my usual breakfast of granola and yoghurt. It will have to be about 3 hours beforehand, normally I would go for 2. Basically you should try and eat your usual, a few hours before and I plan something else about an hour before if I can, like a little fruit or a flapjack. Caffeine apparently has benefits, but coffee just makes me need a wee so I will avoid it!
Gels etc are a matter of taste. I like clif shot bloks, I don't like the consistency of gels. The bloks are easy to eat and taste nice. You have plenty of time so you can try experimenting on longer runs. Some people find the gels cause tummy issues, so if you try them maybe do it on a route with a toilet! Otherwise people eat jelly babies or dried fruit or other normal foods, so experiment and see what works for you.
As for poo, has this been a problem?! I guess eat foods that don't upset your tummy and I know some people use Imodium, am considering this for London!
Good luck, we are on a steep learning curve I think!
Carb loading: Yeah, I think pasta baby isn't ideal to run on. I'd usually fall to beans for a good carb/protein boost but figure they aren't much better for bloating....although could get a tailwind going....Hmm, maybe quinoa/rice/something like that.
Pre-race breakfast: I don't normally eat breakfast but do so when I head straight out to the gym before work. In that case, it's a bowl of porridge with some whey stirred through. I guess this plus maybe some peanut butter and banana would be good?
Energy gels etc: Have definitely read that energy gels can be very hard on some peoples' tummy. I'm pretty robust but will try a few brands out on long runs beforehand. I have my eye on some from SIS which are water/sugar/caffeine and apparently don't taste horrendous. I've just read that my course has stations every three miles with water, energy drinks and "sugar fruit cubes" (whatever they may be - something like your Clif bloks?) so I think I'll aim to carry just a few gels and maybe another banana (for slow eating, not gobbling down).
Poo: No, my toilet habits are OK. But I'm a nervous poo-er and I feel like the physiological stress might take its toll. Basically, as a first timer, I have no idea! I might pop an Imodium beforehand....
Apparently the science behind pasta/paella etc the night before is pretty weak but I still do it and think it makes a huge difference. Maybe a placebo? In the morning I can't really eat before a long run or a race unless it's a banana (used to have porridge about 3 hours before but developed problems with it coming back up ) but I do drink a really really carby drink while I'm running if it's say 15 miles and up, aiming to take in around 250 calories an hour. It's disgusting but it works for me, ran a marathon very comfortably, no 'wall' or fatigue.
I had to dilute it 50:50 to begin with and gradually adapt to drinking it neat but even diluted it's like rocket fuel!
What you do after a long run is important too. I'm lazy so I drink any standard chocolate milk but anything with similar ratio of carbs to protein should help.
Carb loading only really works if you eat very few carbs for days before hand, then eat lots.
I have flapjacks for breakfast on the day...
During I have a few sweets usually or some shot blocks. Train with them do not ahow up on the day with them for the first time
I have never ever needed the loo out running.
I have done high level sport from my young teenage years, and ran my first marathon in London in 2015. To be honest, I wouldn't overly worry about your diet before had. Just make sure you are eating plenty of a nice balanced diet. The night before, make sure you eat plenty and choose something you know doesn't upset your stomach (nothing new or wild or too spicy!).
If you aren't a breakfast person, practice having breakfast before your long training runs. I found two slices of propper pappy white toast with jam, and a small banana, was enough energy without being too heavy.
Ditto with gels etc - in most sports shops you can buy them individually so you can buy one each of a few different brands/flavours and see what suits you. Personally I liked clif shot bloks in tropical flavour, as I could wedge one in my cheeks like a chipmunk and let dissolve slowly. I also used Hi5 gels in citrus flavour. I liked those because they were a thinner texture than other brands. The thicker ones I found choked me if I tried to eat them as I ran!
I am also doing Manchester. Am surprised there are no toilets! I did London this year. There was a presentation at the Expo about fuelling which was really useful. Drink 1L + of water as soon as you get up, porridge/toast/bagel/peanut butter etc all good for breakfast. I really stuffed my face as it was 3.5hrs before kick off. I then had some oatcakes and banana about an hour before the start and kept drinking water. Of course was at the toilet loads before the start! And lots of coffee to make sure I had done a poo! I have the fear of needing one during the race as have been caught out on occasion
Fuelling during the race. Plenty of time to find out in your long training runs what works and what doesn't. Trial and error. I eventually found a product called Tailwind which really suited me. Or you can find out what they will be handing out on race day and get accustomed to those to save carrying your own. I also really like the chai charge flapjacks bars They do mini ones which fit easily in a pocket. Fuelling every 45 mins or so seemed to work for me, make sure you fuel before you get tired otherwise it's too late. If you can fuel before you feel you need it it will save hitting 'the wall'. Worth trying lots of things though. Some people have a couple of jelly babies every mile and I have heard good things about baby pouches!
I use Tailwind in the summer but in the winter I find I need to drink more than I want to to get enough glucose just from that (unless I make it up ridiculously strong). SIS gels are my choice- they're more liquid than most and as a result I find them easier to get down. Lemon and lime and apple are both pretty palatable. I also normally have a Hammer Espresso Gel and a beetroot shot on the start line.
You can try real food mid-race but just remember that they take energy and time to digest whereas gels are fast acting and require basically no digestion. I have endless arguments with paleo types who are eating eggs at 13 miles. I get that ultra runners and 6+ hour marathoners do need something solid to prevent that "hungry and slightly sick" feeling but eating protein and fats mid race if you've got less than 4 hours to go is pointless in terms of energy supply.
I find carb "loading" works to an extent, in that if I eat a slightly higher carb diet for two weeks before a big race it does make me feel a bit springier. But I'm talking a jacket potato with dinner every night vs. just protein and veg, not scoffing loads of pasta. Basically you just don't want to start with low glycogen stores. That's only really a problem if either or both of (1) you haven't tapered enough or (2) you eat a low carb diet.
Best of luck. I'm doing Tokyo in Feb, trying to get a GFA time.
If you need a poo half way through then find somewhere and do it - you won't care and neither will anyone else. I had bad GI problems when I did the Rome marathon and managed to find a hedge when we were thankfully out of the city centre, it really doesn't matter as most runners have had an emergency at some time and there will be others with the same problem as you. Take a few sheets of loo roll just in case. I tried imodium and it didn't work for me.
The week before make sure you drink a lot of water as you will be properly hydrated and then drink at as many water stations as possible throughout the race. Necking litres of water just before the race isn't recommended. For carb loading use white pasta, rice and bread, not wholegrain as that can cause GI issues. I eat white toast and honey for breakfast but find whatever suits you, porridge works well for a lot of people, not for me! Carb loading a couple of days before helps me but I don't do it for any longer as I just feel bloated.
For eating during the race, practice on your long runs and see what suits you. I don't like gels, so always take jelly babies with me and on race day I eat the bananas at the food stations.
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