What to eat the week before the marathon

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. Discover what to eat during the rest of the week with our marathon meal plan.

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. The Tuesday before the marathon should ideally be a rest day – use this day to focus on nailing your nutrition. Discover what to eat on low and easy training days.

Next, check out what to eat and drink while running a marathon and what should I eat when training for a marathon?

Check out the London Marathon's training and meal plans. Don't have a spot to run this year? You can still take part with the virtual event London Marathon MyWay – join up for your chance to run 26.2 miles on marathon day, 21 April 2024.

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Below, you'll find suggestions on what to eat and how much training you should do. For a full 16-week plan, have a look at the London Marathon's training programme.

Tuesday training:

Rest day – no training

Tuesday nutrition:

Carbohydrate is reduced today, as it’s a rest day. Starting the day with a protein-rich breakfast is a good option to support muscle growth and repair while training volume is lower. Earlier in the week is a great opportunity to boost micronutrient intake, such as magnesium, iron and omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for energy production and muscle function.


Breakfast egg wraps

Breakfast egg wraps filled with mushrooms

Adding a few tablespoons of oats to these egg wraps gives them a protein boost. We like them filled with mushrooms and tomatoes for a quick, filling and healthy breakfast. They provide iron, folate and fibre, too.

Morning snack

Apricot, honey & pistachio flapjacks

Apricot, honey and pistachio flapjacks

It's always good to have some healthy snacks on hand so you're not tempted to reach for processed protein bars. These tasty treats take just five minutes to prepare and can be enjoyed all week.


Pasta salad with tuna mayo

Pasta salad with tuna mayo

Using wholemeal penne means this pasta salad won't cause your blood sugar levels to spike, and you won't suffer from the dreaded afternoon crash.

Afternoon snack

Chinese spiced seed mix


Snack on these moreish sunflower and pumpkin nibbles – a healthier choice than crisps and other pre-packaged savoury snacks.


Stir-fry chilli beef with sweet potato jackets

Stir-fry chilli beef with veg and a sweet potato

Enjoy this energising supper for a post-exercise pick-me-up. It supplies iron, vitamin C and fibre, plus an impressive five of your five-a-day.

Want more running info? Now try:

Find more expert advice and answers to your training questions in our marathon hub
What to eat before a run
What to eat during a run
What to eat after a run
How to stay hydrated on a run

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.


All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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