Overall dietary guidelines:
Contrary to previous beliefs, the week before the marathon isn’t all about piling on the pasta. In fact, to maximise carbohydrate (fuel) stores before the race, runners only need to start ‘fuelling up’ or ‘carb-loading’ two or three days before the race (three days if you prefer slower increase in your daily intake). Read more in our guide to carb-loading.
Runners who have coeliac disease, are intolerant to gluten or simply following a gluten-free diet need to plan their meals carefully around the appropriate carbohydrate options to prepare for the race. We have adapted our week-long marathon meal plan to provide options for the week leading up to the event, as well as examples that can be used as part of your wider training or day-to-day routine.
Earlier in the week, it may be useful to start including snacks to train the gut in preparation for increased carbohydrate intake in the days leading up to the marathon.
As a general rule, what you eat should be different depending on the training demands for that day (or when you are preparing for the race itself) to promote sufficient fuelling and recovery. Discover what to eat on different training days with our training meal plans for runners.
We’ve included examples of the race training programme from London Marathon to plan your nutrition for this day.
10 mins marathon pace, 20 mins half-marathon pace, 10 mins marathon pace.
* Beginner’s guidelines as recommended by the London Marathon.
Carbohydrate intake is maintained at breakfast and lunch to support training volume for today. Protein and healthy fat intakes are also important for the ongoing growth and repair of the muscles. Options are nutrient-rich and provide sufficient fibre for healthy gut function. Snacks are included as optional depending on your preferences.
A quick, easy and healthy breakfast that will keep you satisfied until lunch, with eggs and green vegetables such as broccoli and courgettes.
Avocado & strawberry smoothie
This creamy breakfast-friendly blend is high in calcium and provides protein from the milk and yogurt.
Roast chicken with sweet potato gremolata salad
You can use leftovers from your Sunday lunch to make this colourful salad, or buy some pre-cooked chicken instead.
Sprinkle almonds with a little smoked paprika for a quick and easy snack.
Cod with cucumber, avocado & mango salsa salad
This healthy dinner is bursting with fresh flavours and textures.
Go back to the week-long gluten-free marathon meal plan.
Find more expert advice and answers to your training questions in our marathon hub.
These meal plans were last updated on 20 February 2020 by James Collins.
James Collins is recognised as a leading Performance Nutritionist through his work with Olympic and professional sport. Over the last decade he has worked with Arsenal FC, the England and France national football teams and Team GB. He has a private practice in Harley Street where he sees business executives, performing artists and clients from all walks of life. He is the author of the new book The Energy Plan, which focuses on the key principles of fuelling for fitness.
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