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 needs 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 is reduced today as it’s a rest day. Starting the day with a protein-rich breakfast is a good option here, to support muscle growth and repair, whilst training volume is lower. Earlier in the week is a great opportunity to boost micronutrient intake, such as magnesium (afternoon snack), iron (dinner) and omega-3 (lunch), which are a crucial for energy production and muscle function.
This speedy omelette with spinach, asparagus and crabmeat is packed with flavour and couldn’t be easier.
Apricot, honey & pistachio flapjacks
These tasty treats will keep you in the kitchen for just five minutes.
Smoked mackerel, orange & couscous salad
Sliced oranges make a refreshing addition to this substantial salad.
Chinese spiced seed mix
Snack on these moreish sunflower and pumpkin nibbles – a healthier choice.
Chilli beef with broccoli & oyster sauce
Marinate a cheaper cut like rump steak to tenderise the meat then stir-fry with vegetables and rich Chinese flavours.
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.
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.