what to eat and drink before a marathon

I am running a marathon in a couple of weeks time, any advice on what to eat on the week run up to the event and most importantly the day before?
i know i need to drink a lot of fluid from a couple of days before the event but i get a bit confused between carbohydrates and proteins and which you should and shouldn't eat. any advice gratefully received


  • Eat as normal up to the fourth day before the marathon.

    On the third day before - start carbo-loading, with increased portions of carbs, such as pasta, bread, etc. Modest amounts of protein are OK; reduce the amount of fat you are consuming. Avoid alcohol.

    Continue this for the next two days - though I've heard that the first day is most important.

    On the last day before the race keep yourself well-topped up with food during the day, but with your last full meal about 12 - 15 hours before the race start time. Stay well-hydrated.

    On the morning of the race have a fairly light breakfast at least 3 hours before the start - something like bread with jam or honey or porridge are good choices. Avoid fruit, fruit juice, or anything that might uupset your stomach. An energy drink might not be a bad idea as well.
  • Hi anglomania,
    it's important really that for 3 days before the marathon each meal has some form of carbohydrate, such as porridge at breakfast with a large glass of orange juice, some form of bread in a sandwich with fruit (apple and banana) at lunch, then a larger meal in the early evening of pasta/rice/cous cous/potatoes etc with some white meat/fish and salad.

    Drink at least 2 litres of water or squash per day so you're hydrated going into the marathon.

    The day before my marathon last Sunday this was what I ate:

    breakfast-porridge, 2 slices of toast with marmalade, orange juice.
    mid-morning snack-cereal bar
    Lunch-tuna and cucumber roll (large)apple, banana.
    Afternoon snack-energy bar
    Evening meal at 7pm-pasta bake in tomato based sauce/half a pizza (cheese and tomato)salad.

    Hope this helps.
  • I usually reckon to eat as much as i like for the week before then i aim for a large pasta meal on the Friday evening, (assuming Sunday race), eat snacks of the baked potato type with rice and bread on Saturday, with large thick based pizza in evening before race.
    Race morning, eat bowl of porrige - due to nerves i usually have difficulty eating so make up the porrige really runny and almost drink it, have a banana about an hour before, then go for it.
    Tuna or cheeze sandwiches and bag of crisps after the race to start the refuel of muscles.
  • Thanks you. Really helpful advice for my first half marathon on Sunday! Started running Jan this year aged 62. I've managed 13.1 slowly in training, so fingers crossed for Peterborough!

  • This 3-5 day carb loading thing is a bit old hat. The amount of glycogen you have available is a function of what you ate in the last 18-24 hours, not 3-5 days beforehand. Once your glycogen stores are full, any excess cals in the form of carbs etc will be stored as fat. Furthermore, fat doesn't oxidize well (at rest) in the presence of insulin/glucose, so eating loads of carbs for several days beforehand just increases the chance of it being laid down as fat, if your cals are in excess of expenditure.

    I'd personally go with smashing the carbs in the day before a race, and not worrying about it at any other time.

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