Pre-race nutrition - marathon

My first marathon is next weekend.  I'm going to be fully carbed-up by eating moderate and regular amounts of carbohydrate the days before the race rather than leaving it to a big binge the night before.  

So my question is this: if your muscles are already full of glycogen, what's the role of breakfast on the day?  Should that meal just be a light breakfast or is it actually a vital part of race nutrition and if so, how many hours before the event do you need to digest a meal like porridge and make that energy available?  Does this make sense?


  • If you have your last meal at 8pm and then don't eat again until breakfast, you may not be doing much more than sleeping but that's still 10+ hours of your energy stores being nibbled away at.

    I don't get on with porridge and go for jam/toast instead, 4 slices for a marathon, about 2 hours before and I will use gels during the marathon.

  • I think it depends person to person how much you'll want to eat for a marathon breakfast and how soon before the race you'll want to be eating it. I do well with a bowl of porridge about 2-3 hours beforehand and sometimes keep back a couple of spoonfuls to eat cold just before the start. But I'm not particularly fast - 4hrs+ - and I reckon if you're racing round a lot faster you really won't want any undigested food to be bouncing around in your gut.

    Personally I think the pre-race breakfast is rather vital and the trick is finding the balance between under and over fuelling. Too little too soon and you'll feel it after a couple of hours. Too much too late and you'll definitely feel it the whole way round!

  • Marshallini, toast sounds like an attractive alternative to porridge - thanks.

    RWD, might just push my breakfast back by an hour as you indicate is possible. I think 2 hrs before probs isn't right for me. 

    Both: this definitely feels like an art! Let's see how I get on and then next time I'll have something to base my decisions on!  Thank you image

  • Eggyh73Eggyh73 ✭✭✭

    What did you prior to doing your long slow training runs and how long after eating did you run those? That's what I'd advise eating and doing. Marathon day is the wrong time to experiment with fueling. What is good for one person could make another feel ill.

  • Hi Eggyh73,

    Didn't stick to one strategy for pre- and during- run tbh, except for the eating afterwards.  I have always drunk a recovery drink (chocolate milk) virtually instantly after finishing a long run.

    Mostly, I've not really allowed much time after a light breakfast before my long runs.  I wouldn't replicate this for a marathon as I've been virtually running 45 mins after eating and that's not long enough.  

    I've got by on a handful of jelly beans during a run up to 17 miles and also no nutrition and no hydration whatever on runs of 14 miles.  Again, I wouldn't replicate the latter during a marathon.   

    Basically, I'm not doing gels during the race, only jelly babies, plus water.  I now think I will eat toast and honey 3 hours before the race.


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