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.
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 race.
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.
* Beginner’s guidelines as recommended by the London Marathon.
Carbohydrate intake remains raised on Thursday, in preparation for carb-loading starting on Friday. The focus is on complete, high quality, sources of protein at each main meal. The morning snack provides a suitable option for those unable to tolerate dairy. Snacks are included as optional depending on your preferences.
This muesli will keep you going till lunch. It counts as one of your five-a-day and is high in iron and packed with fibre.
Creamy mango & coconut smoothie
This tropical shake with creamy coconut yogurt, mango and passion fruit is free from dairy and soya.
Hot & sour fish soup
James Martin’s Asian soup combines a fragrant broth with fish, seafood and light noodles, topped with strong herbs.
Sweet & spicy popcorn
Ready in under 10 minutes, this snack is great eaten warm or stored as a snack to stave off hunger between meals.
Mexican chicken stew with quinoa & beans
Enjoy a spicy chicken casserole with a healthy, nutritious side dish of protein-rich quinoa.
Find more expert advice and answers to your training questions in our marathon hub.
This article was reviewed on 1 September 2021.
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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