Sports nutritionist Charlotte Kennedy details some useful fuel strategies to consider when preparing for a marathon


Carbohydrate intake

“Everyone knows of the importance of carbohydrates for energy and therefore in the week before your marathon you will want to increase your carbohydrate intake to ensure you maximise your fuel stores. However, do be careful about the term ‘carbo-loading’ as it can be possible to eat too much. There is only so much carbohydrate that your body can store and therefore eating too much will leave you feeling bloated, heavy and sluggish- the opposite of what you want for race morning.  Don’t use “carbo-loading” as an excuse to overindulge in lots of high fat, fried carbohydrate sources  as well- save the treats for after your race! Instead of piling down as much carbohydrate as you can, simply try to eat about 10-15% more carbohydrate than you are used to. On the day before the marathon, eat a portion of carbohydrate with every meal alongside some carbohydrate-based snacks. Some good examples of snacks are bananas, dates, flapjacks or energy bars like those by Etixx which contain 30g of carbohydrate.

Maintain protein intake

“In the week before your marathon ensure you are eating enough protein to help your muscles to grow and repair. This should leave them in the best possible state come marathon morning. Try to avoid lots of high fat meat sources such as sausages and instead aim for a portion of high quality protein with every meal. Some good examples include chicken, turkey, eggs, quinoa and salmon.”

Minimise fibre intake

“Another thing you might want to consider is fibre intake. In the few days before the marathon, consider limiting fibre intake as it may interfere with digestion and cause stomach issues on race day. At this point, it may be best to eat white sources of carbohydrate such as white bread and pasta as these have less fibre than their brown or wholemeal alternatives.”

Hydration

“In the week before your event, make an effort to remain properly hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the preparatory week and try not to let yourself get too thirsty. Carry a bottle around with you wherever you go and make a conscious effort to take frequent sips. The last thing you will want is to start race day dehydrated. Try to resist the post-work pints of beer and avoid alcohol completely in the build up to marathon day. Save the pint for when you’ve finished.”

The night before

“The night before the marathon, don’t try anything new. Have a plain and simple dinner; one that you eat frequently and doesn’t cause you any stomach issues. Don’t eat anything too rich and don’t overindulge in processed foods or those high in fat and salt.  Again, don’t think that because you’ll be burning a lot of fuel the next day you can overindulge on treats the night before. Resist for one night and you’ll be very grateful on race morning!”

Charlotte Kennedy is a sports nutritionist at Etixx. For more information on Etixx sports nutrition, please visit: www.etixxsports.com