You’re focused following weeks of marathon training and intense preparation; the starting line is in sight; the excited nerves are beginning to kick in. It’s all too easy to push too much or too far in the week leading up to a marathon or mini-marathon. You’re resting significantly after the hard prep work, so it’s a delicate balance of eating right, light training, great sleep and ample hydration before marathon day – with that Personal Best in plain sight.
Here’s our ten nutrition tips leading up to marathon day:
Planning for success
Don’t let circumstance catch you off guard. Failure to plan is a plan for failure, so take nutrition seriously. Meal plan and map out every meal, snack and hydration opportunity each day. Get the shopping in a couple of days before so you’re not picking up bits and pieces at the supermarket as you go – fuelling the temptation to go off course, impulse buy and deviate from your strict plan.
Stick to times. Like we said before, your body is intelligent and will respond accordingly to what you do to it. Keeping to similar eating times and nutritional habits will make it all the easier.
Don’t try anything new
Don’t try anything new this weekend, now is not the time to introduce new ideas, wacky dishes or un-tested recipes to your diet. Keep it simple and stick to established favourites that you know work well for you.
Water, water, water
All week you should be keeping yourself extra hydrated in preparation for race day – two to three days beforehand even increasing your intake. Small, controlled sips will teach the body to absorb, store and hydrate effectively. Your body won’t know what hits it if, on race day, you flood your system with far more water than it’s used to. The body is smart and responsive, take control and show good discipline. Fruit juices, energy drinks, tea and coffee can also contribute their own part.
Fruit’s your friend
Looking to hike up your carb intake but still want sweetness and freshness? Well, you’re in luck! Fruit is your friend here. Apples, pears, pineapple, berries – enjoy them on their own or pair them with some Greek yoghurt. Why not whizz them up into a smoothie for breakfast? Dried fruits like cranberries, figs and dates will be great in salads and porridge.
Bananas, the browner the better
Bananas are fantastic fuel, but don’t reach for that green banana, which has more complex sugars and is naturally harder to digest. Opt for a brown-spotted banana, which is far easier and quicker to digest and has simpler sugars for optimum energy.
Don’t binge eat on excessively heavy carbs because you’ve been told you need to carbo-load. In the week before, up your carb intake slowly but surely with complex carbohydrates like sweet potato, wholewheat pasta and healthy grains like brown rice and quinoa. Pair these with lean protein and some healthy fats for the best results.
Carb-fest two days before
Two days beforehand and your lunch and dinner this day should be the highest level of carbs in order to allow ample time for digestion. Roughly 70% of meals should be carb-based, so don’t be alarmed if you put on a pound or two and you will find protein and fat being pushed out slightly.
Lighten the load the day before
For your last meal on the day before have a wholewheat sandwich with fresh tuna and leafy greens with a berry flapjack. Don’t eat too heavy as you don’t want your system to be lethargic and sluggish in the morning. Eat early rather than later and get a good, long night’s sleep.
What to eat on race day
On race day, eat a small bowl of Irish porridge with half a ripe banana and a strong black coffee (with a glass of water, which will rehydrate after the diuretic properties of coffee have kicked in). Safe to say, don’t eat just before leaving for the starting line. If you ordinarily need 2-3 hours of digestion time, get up 2-3 hours before you need to leave. Hydrate all morning long and pump yourself up for success!
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