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How To Train For A Marathon (Nutrition)

Next in our marathon training lineup is nutrition, the importance of diet in training, and what to eat in the run-up to the event.

A recap on the marathon training pyramid 

Whether this is your first or fifth marathon, athletes will find much better success if they invest in the marathon training pyramid methodology. In addition to physically training your body to lay the groundwork to slay the gruelling 26-miles demanded by the race, you must put the right fuel into your body to help it keep going. Wrap all of this with mental preparation for the recipe to success. 

Marathon training diet 

A lot of advice surrounding nutrition will focus on race day; however, you should focus on nutrition from day one of your training. You may already be familiar with ‘fuelling up’ before a marathon, but it is also essential to fuel your body throughout the training process. Keeping your blood sugar at a good level, as well as eating the right carbs and protein is just as important when training as it is on race day. This will ensure the body is getting everything it needs to perform at its best. 

How does Mo Farah fuel? 

It is pivotal to remember that everybody is different, and what fuels one person may hinder someone else. The earlier you begin your training, the sooner you will understand what works well for you. Some of the main points to take from Mo’s diet is: 
  • Experiment to find the best time to eat so that you run well
  • Make sure you eat (even a liquid meal) within 25 minutes after you have completed a run 
  • What you eat during training and what you eat on race day will differ 
  • Make sure you are eating both protein and carbohydrates 

Tips for nailing your marathon diet 

We have collated some excellent advice on how to fuel up during your training. 

Eat the right amount 

Aim to eat 30-60g of carbohydrates for every hour you are planning to exercise. Ideally, you will want to spread this out throughout your run to keep your body going for longer. While carbs are great for energy, protein will help build your muscles, assist in recovery and work to prevent injury. As a runner, you should be consuming 50-75% more protein than your average Joe. 

Hydrating is just as important as eating when in marathon training mode. Don’t guzzle your water; instead, take regular sips to stay hydrated and keep your body temperature regulated. Water will also flush out any cells that are damaged during training. There are a variety of different ways runners can store their water. Don’t forget to continue hydrating after you have completed a training session. 

Top up your energy throughout your training runs 

It is just as important to continue fuelling your body during your run as it is before you start. Whether you invest in energy tablets, running gels, or drinks; it is crucial to experiment throughout your training to figure out what suits your body. 

Be prepared for some...interesting changes 

There are aspects of marathon running that no one really talks about. One of those is runner’s trots (diarrhoea). Yup, you read that right. It is surprisingly common among runners. The exact causes are unknown, but theories involve: 
  • Jostling the bowels during a run 
  • Diverting blood from your intestines to your arms and legs 
  • Dehydration 
  • Heightened levels of stress 
But don’t let this put you off the experience of a lifetime! Every runner goes through it at least once - if you don’t believe us, ask one of your runner friends! 

Taking the time to understand what foods work best for you, and staying hydrated may reduce the chances of experiencing runners trots. 

When it comes to race day, don’t risk any new food or supplement or you may fall foul to this unfortunate phenomenon. 

Experiment with different fuelling strategies 

We’ve said it once, and we will say it again, experimentation is key during your marathon training. Whether you are testing out different pre-run meals, gels or tablets throughout your run or trying post-run snacks and drinks; use this time to understand what works for your body so that you can perform at its best! 

That's all from us regarding marathon nutrition but check back soon for the next post in our miniseries - how to train for a marathon (mentally).