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 into 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.
20 minutes easy run
* Beginner's guidelines as recommended by the London Marathon.
Protein-rich foods at each meal are the priority for today with a light training session. Carbohydrates are lower today before increasing tomorrow, leading into the race. Try out some new meal options with a range of fruits and vegetables to provide micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) for the regeneration of muscles. Snacks are included as optional depending on your preferences.
Apple & linseed porridge
Start the day the right way with a nutrient-rich, oaty breakfast. This is full of stomach-friendly fibre – great for digestion.
Sweet & spicy nuts
Add flavour to protein-rich nuts with cinnamon and mixed spices.
Frozen fruit sticks with passion fruit & lime drizzle
This colourful mix of fruit adds a hit of natural sweetness to your day.
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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