What to Eat Before a Marathon or Half Marathon
So what’s more appropriate than what to eat before, during, and after a race?
What you eat the week before the race is just as important as what you eat the day of. For more, see my post about what to eat the week before a marathon or half.
In the days leading up to the race, you’ll be tapering your training, but keep eating the same amount of carbohydrates or slightly more, so that your body will store them. Don’t wait until the night before to carbo-load!
You’re better off eating lots of carbs at lunch the day before a race than at dinner. I sleep better if I don’t overeat at night anyway, and falling asleep before a big race is always tough.
In the two to four hours before your race, fill up on protein and simple carbohydrates and drink lots of water or sports drink. The more time until the race, the larger your meal should be. Avoid fiber and fats, since they can cause digestion issues. Don’t try anything new on race day!
Some good pre-race foods: bread, bagel, cereal, fruit, smoothie, peanut or almond butter (not too much though). The more liquid and easier-to-digest these foods are, the better.
In the hour before the race, don’t eat very much. Some water, sports drink, or energy gels are good now. I don’t even drink much water at this stage, to avoid having to use the bathroom during the race.
During a race, you need 30-60 grams of carbs per hour and about a cup of water every fifteen minutes. Avoid dangerous overhydration (hyponatremia) by drinking sports drinks with sodium and/or additional sodium supplementation. One sign of overhydration is bloating, noticeable as swelling around rings, watches, socks, etc.
After a race, get protein and carbs into your body as quickly as possible. Some think a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein is best.
Throughout the day, continue to get high-carb, moderate protein nutrition, drinking lots of water or sports drink to replenish fluids.