Marathon Nutrition

If you’ve ever heard someone mention carbohydrate loading or a.k.a carbo-loading you may be wondering what this is. It can be quite confusing hearing / reading about it, so I’m going to make this really simple for you to achieve carbo-loading

The definition is: Carbohydrate loading, commonly referred to as carb-loading or carbo-loading, is a strategy used by endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, to maximize the storage of glycogen (or energy) in the muscles and liver.

For the final week you’re going to need to slightly increase the amount of carbohydrate rich foods you eat in each meal and snack whist decreasing the amount of training / running you do. No ‘white’ starches and no potatoes (other than sweet potatoes) should be eaten. Green light to eat things like brown rice, wholegrain wraps, oats, butternut squash, parsnips, pumpkin, wholegrain bread, fruits, wholegrain rice cakes. Don’t go overboard with the carbs though as this will leave you feeling bloated and sluggish and don’t load up on junk food.

Stay well hydrated and aim to drink 2.5ltr -3ltrs of water each day leading up to the race.


Aim to have your main meal of the day at lunchtime rather than in the evening. By doing this you’ll give your stomach plenty of time to digest the food and you won’t go to bed feeling bloated and sleep much better. Have a small supper / snack early evening and get an early night. Below is a sample meal that I would have the day before.

Shepherds Pie

(serves 4)





Aim to eat breakfast 2-3 hours prior to the race. For me my race day routine is 6-7 spoons of jumbo oats mixed with 2 spoons of frozen blueberries and cooked in a pan with organic semi-skimmed milk. I then may add some flaxseeds, a few almonds and pumpkin seeds or 1 scoop of pea protein powder for extra protein. Another option would be wholegrain toast with organic peanut butter and sliced banana on top.


Everyone is different and what may suit you may not work for someone else and vice versa. Whatever race eating strategy you implement on the day don’t try anything that hasn’t been tested in training.

Some people like to take gels and aim to take one every hour that your running. I prefer to take a little something with more sustenance like a Cliff bar and aim to have one every 90 minutes. Towards the end of the race I would take a Cliff Shot block, which is similar to a gel but in the form of a chewy sweet and far less messy than a gel. Electrolytes are important to drink and can be mixed in with water. These are important to take every 90 minutes.

Another alternative would be a banana. Whatever you decide to eat make sure it agrees with you during a practice training run.

If you’re more adventurous then you could make your own race bar. Below is the recipe for my homemade muesli bar.

Muesli Bar


After running the marathon your probably not going to be feeling very hungry but it’s important to eat and drink something light within the first 20 mins of finishing to help replace lost fluid and aid muscle repair.

I would aim to have a light snack like a Cliff bar or home made muesli bar and ½ pint of semi-skimmed milk. Then I would aim to eat a meal within 60-90 mins from eating the snack. Remember now is the time to eat more protein than carbs as your body will need the extra protein to help with muscle repair and damage. Here is one of my favorite meals post race. To be super organised you could make this the day before!

Walnut Pesto Turkey Burger

(Serves 4)


How to make walnut pesto


It’s also important to stay well hydrated after the race and for the week ahead to avoid dehydration.

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Posted in Nutritional advice Sheffield, Personal Training Sheffield

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I'm Adam Taylor - an expert in personal training, running coaching, weight loss and nutritional advice.

I'm based in Sheffield and am passionate about helping people reach their fitness goals - everything from weight loss and general fitness to marathon and fell running.

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