First Marathon what to eat before!

Good morning,

I am attempting my first marathon next sunday, albeit very slowly, aiming for just over 6 hours.

The question is what should i eat in the run up? Im currently dieting so am limiting myself to 1400 calories a day, and dont eat many carbs as a result. But i also know it is important to be ready on the start line, with as much energy i can.

Was thinking a bowl of porridge in the morning, but is it important to eat certain meals the days before?

10 Replies

  • You have to get sufficient calories in when training and recovering from long runs so being over restrictive at this time is not a good idea. You can make sure you get sufficient calories by eating healthily, so you shouldn't gain any weight

    I always weigh out 70g of proper porridge oats and cook them fully so as not to cause indigestion. I would have this 90 mins before if possible. I try and eat a banana half an hour before the race starts. Make sure you eat healthily in the week leading up to the race and hydrate well too. My meal the night before is usually a salmon steak, grilled or just in a hot dry pan, with wholewheat pasta and wilted spinach. You can stir in a bit of boursin into the cooked pasta 😊 I think carbs are a good idea for long distance runners. Sweet potatoes are really good, and plenty of carb rich veggies bear in mind

    Post marathon you need to get good fuel back on board within half an hour if possible as it helps protect your muscles from injury as they will be depleted. I make my post run meal beforehand as you will be ravenous. Immediately after the run I have a banana and a home made energy bar, plus a drink or two of water. You could make some sandwiches to take with you. If you are prepared ahead of time you won't reach for the wrong things 😊

    Good luck

  • whatever works is the best option!

    do exactly (I mean it) what you have done before your longest run :) Maybe do not think diet this time, think energy! You are going to need much more than double the calories you are having at the moment to finish it so ...

    Bring with you a couple of energy gel (or bar or jelly or whatever you have tried) and do not go shopping (use the old stuff you have already tested.

    This week do your tape (slow down run less), do not walk too much the couple of days before and drink plenty of water :)

    many do carb loading (mainly tomato pasta the day before, but do not overdo it otherwise you will feel it on the day). i am not sure you need it until you are running it all and even if you are, you are not aiming for qualification to Rio, are you? so you do not need as much, your body is capable of doing it TRUST YOUR TRAINING!!!


    During my last one I hit the wall around mile 20, I could have taken a couple more energy gels with me or have some salt, but I guess my 16 kilos over the normal weight threshold helped there...

    keep the pace you have tested and most importantly enjoy the atmosphere !!! :)

  • Well done on giving a marathon ago and on the diet. I did my first marathon in April.

    But i would suggest that maybe put the diet on hold for the moment and load up on carbs the evening before. You only need to for a day it will not harm you but if you don't eat correctly it could harm your marathon. So eat some good quality pasta.

    Porridge is a good choice, i also take a banana and toasted peanut bagel with me to eat an hour or so before the start. Remember running for that amount of time takes alot of energy.

    and good luck with your marathon.

  • Please dont ever say 'slowly' because its a marathon and thats enough of a challenge!! Thats a good target time for a first too, but my advice is NOT to focus on time but on finishing!!! I had think its incredibly difficult to diet and train long distances but I am no expert.I ate normally on the lead up, then a pizza the night before and then something bready / croissant on the morning as well as chocoalte ( I eat alot of chocolate anyway). Use your long training runs as testers. I used to find egg on toast worked best. Good luck and keep us posted :)

  • Thank you for all the responses, I've been having porridge the day of my long runs, and that seems to have got me through them, only struggle ive had is carrying enough water so hoping that the water stops will help on the day,

    Haven't used energy gels, going to stick with jelly babies, as i find them tastier and easier to eat!

    I thought pasta was the key, so will probably have a nice bowl the day before. Ive managed so far dieting and doing the long run, i tend to eat lots of protein after the run.

    Im not bothered about going over my calories a couple of days before, and plan to have a nice celebration meal after, after all ill be burning at least 2800 during the run!!

    P.s i do run it all just at a snails pace, sometimes i think walking would be quicker :(

  • Well good luck be sure to come back and tell us all about it.

  • I ate carbs and an egg on the day - bagel or 2 if I remember rightly . Then jelly babies as I went. Don't skimp on the jelly babies - I don't think I ate enough! Good luck and let us know it goes!

  • There are loads of good articles about carbo-loading before the marathon out there. One pretty constant bit of advice is not to eat anything on the day you haven't tried before.

  • Well i did it! Completed the marathon in 6hrs 13mins :)

  • Well done, amazing !!!

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