How to Fuel Your Body for a Marathon- What to Eat Before, During and After

With our virtual marathon quickly approaching (4 days away to be precise!), we decided to focus this weeks blog post on the foods you should be eating to sufficiently fuel your body before a marathon, during a marathon and also after a marathon.

If you have decided to take part (whether you're going to be walking, running or cycling), you will hopefully have been getting some practice laps in. Whilst physically preparing for a marathon is obviously important, your nutrition and food intake is also a key part of success. The following tips have been put together to allow you to feel energised and confident throughout your marathon, and also to help you avoid falling at the final pre-run breakfast hurdle.

*Disclaimer- we are not nutritionists. These tips and meal ideas have been collected from research into other running-based blogs and nutrition websites, which are all cited at the end of our blog*

What to Eat Before Your Marathon:

The best foods to consume in preparation for a long run are those low in fat, low in fibre and high in carbohydrates. For example, foods such as bread, peanut butter and skinless fruit (e.g. a banana) are good to eat for breakfast. At least three days before a race, runners usually "carb-load" by eating rice, pasta, lean meats and starchy vegetables. Depending on your body's digestion rate, it may be a good idea to eat your last 'big' meal 48 hours before the race to give your body enough time to digest the food and to help you to avoid feeling stodgy and lethargic the day of the race. Within 24 hours of the race, it is best to eat light, balanced and easily digestible meals such as small sandwiches.

Top Tips for Before a Marathon:

  1. Within the 5 days leading up to the marathon, only eat foods that are 'familiar to your body

  2. Drink 500-700ml of fluid about three hours before the race for hydration

  3. Avoid deep fried/fatty foods in the days before a marathon as these foods require more energy from your body to digest, which may mean that your race performance suffers

  4. If you suffer from any gastrointestinal problems, it may be a good idea to avoid dairy products on the day of the race

  5. If you manage to practice a run/walk/cycle of a similar length to the marathon, try to eat the same pre-race meal that you are planning on eating the night before and also the same pre-race breakfast that you are planning on having the day of the marathon, as this will give you chance to see how your body digests these foods, and will give you time to change things if it doesn't work for you

What to Eat During a Marathon:

After the first hour of the marathon, your body may need to be refuelled every 30 to 45 minutes. To restore carbohydrates during a race, eat energy bars, energy gels and also bananas. These can be consumed by taking small bites whilst continuing to run/walk/cycle.

Top Tips for During a Marathon:

  1. It is possible to lose up to 5kg of water weight in a 3-hour marathon, and therefore, keeping yourself hydrated is key; to prevent dehydration during a race, drink 300-600ml of fluid 15 minutes before your run begins

  2. Try to then continue to drink 150-250ml of fluid at regular intervals; take small sips whilst you continue to run/walk/cycle

  3. Good fluids to drink are plain water and also sports/isotonic drinks (especially for longer distanced runs)

  4. Avoid soda, fruit juices and cordials as these are high in sugar concentration, which may cause stomach discomfort during the run

What to Eat After a Marathon:

Your body will need re-hydrating following a long distanced run/walk/cycle, and isotonic drinks are best for this as they contain a similar concentration of salt and sugar as the human body. Alternatively, water is also great for re-hydration. Within 1 hour of finishing your marathon, try to eat a high-carb snack such as a banana sandwich or an energy bar. Within 2-3 hours after your marathon, have a balanced meal comprising of a lean meat, carbohydrates and a good fat (e.g. chicken/fish, pasta/rice and avocado)

Top Tips for After a Marathon:

  1. Avoid alcohol for 24-hours as this may increase dehydration levels

  2. Try to avoid drinking based purely on your thirst as this may not be accurately reflecting your body's needs; a good visual guide for how much water you need is the colour of your urine, which should be colourless a few hours after the marathon


Thank you so much to everyone who has already signed up to take part- we hope these nutrition based tips have been helpful for you. We can't wait to see you all smash your goals this Sunday!!

For those of you who are still wanting to sign up, information on how to do this can be found over at-

If you don't want to take part, but still wish to sponsor others and donate then please feel free to do so using our just giving link-

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