Half Marathon nutrition/meal plan - a... - Marathon Running ...

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Half Marathon nutrition/meal plan - advice anyone?

Redcello41HUHM v5K

Hi everyone, I am going to be doing my very first half marathon in March and am going to start my training in November. I've got a running plan all worked out and I know exactly what I'm doing for each week and run, so that's all straight in my head. But I've realised that I need to work out what I am doing for my nutrition and meals throughout my training but am finding it all a bit overwhelming when I look online. A lot of websites tell you what to do about nutrition nearer race day but not for the whole training from start to finish. If anyone has any advice or tips that would be great! :-D

27 Replies

Hi there! Welcome to the Marathon forum, I hope you find fun and inspiration here xxx

I think that to get the best out of your training it is fine to continue with an ordinary balanced diet, eating foods that you enjoy. You need to experiment to find out which foods work for you before and after a long or a fast run, so that you can keep your tummy happy during your workouts.

The important differences really are in the few days leading up to a race, and during that race - this is why you will have found a lot of advice online on those subjects. As you increase your distances during the latter part of your training, you will be wise to practice at least drinking on the run. If you intend to eat something during your half marathon you should also train for this.

You will see folk on here discussing a range of products and foods that they like to consume while running - Tailwind (a high-carbohydrate drink) is very popular. Many of us use energy gels, others prefer to avoid them favouring "real" foods. Sweets such as Jelly Babies are popular. Some people don't feel the need to eat during a half marathon, many others do.

To me the most important thing is to enjoy your training, and your first half marathon! It's a wonderful thing to do 😊😊😊 Which race have you signed up for?

Redcello41HUHM v5K in reply to roseabi

Thanks for all the info! I have signed up to run the Bath Half! :-D

roseabiAdministrator in reply to Redcello41


SlowLorisHalf Marathon

If you follow roseabi’s advice you shouldn’t need food or energy drinks during the run. Then it becomes one less thing to worry about.

roseabiAdministrator in reply to SlowLoris

Whether you need something during a run depends on how long your run is really 😊

Tasha99Marathon in reply to SlowLoris

I need to fuel anything over 12-14k!

Sandraj39Half Marathon

As your runs get longer you can try some different ways of refuelling. Not everyone will refuel on a HM but I would think that most do. I like using Tailwind on my long runs but for my HM ( before I knew Tailwind existed(!) and also as gels didn't appeal) I used these Power Flapjacks(link below) - of course eating whilst running is a skill all in itself! 😉Good luck! Also, eat well before and after your runs and lots of sleep to aid recovery. If you want the low down on nutrition and running than I can recommend Anita Beans book "The Runners Cookbook" - full of lots of yummy healthy recipes and all the science too! A fab book. 👍🙂


Redcello41HUHM v5K in reply to Sandraj39

Great, that is so helpful! Yes I find it hard to eat and walk, let alone run and eat so that is definitely going to be something to experiment with! I was in a running shop this morning and they had Tailwind powder there so might experiment with that on one of my long runs! My only concern is that the Tailwind pack has caffeine is which makes me a bit nervous. Will have to try it out and see! :-D

Sandraj39Half Marathon in reply to Redcello41

Not all Tailwind is caffeinated - check which one you buy. I buy the one without! Btw, I see you are doing the Bath Half! This is the one I did a couple of years ago - you will love it! Great course and great atmosphere!😀

Redcello41HUHM v5K in reply to Sandraj39

Great, I didn't realise that some of tailwind isn't caffeinated so that's good! I'm looking forward to the Bath Half, I've watched it last year and it is a great atmosphere!

Dexy5HUHM v5K in reply to Sandraj39

I’ve got a stock of these power bars in my freezer- they are scrumptious and really do give a boost during your run.


Its all very personal regarding nutrition and foods so experimenting to your likes makes the best sense as Abi says.


As everyone else has said, it varies so much from person to person that there is no one size fits all approach! For a regular half marathon you'll not need to worry too much at all, the general guidance is you only need to fuel after two hours of constant running so a gel or some jelly babies would likely suffice.

Personally, I just eat what I always eat and then the night before an event I'll have a meal with some slow release carbs. Brown pasta and smoked mackerel is a favourite for me, and vegetarian haggis is also excellent.

During a long run I take electrolytes and fuel in a wee hand flask (I love Active Root because it tastes of ginger, but Tailwind is also very good). If I'm on a training run I'll usually go out for three or four hours and meander about the hills, stopping and starting, so I'll take some homemade flapjacks with me and have a sit down and look at the view with a treat. During an event I'm not quite so casual and will eat (drink?) a gel, for a psychological boost perhaps more than for a physical one. I tolerate the cherry, lemon & lime or pink grapefruit SIS Isogels, any of the others come straight back out. Gels are an acquired taste and I've not really acquired it yet! They're practical though, so worth a shot.

Redcello41HUHM v5K in reply to Sqkr

Brilliant, thanks for all that! Being as I've only been running for 7 months and for shorter distances I haven't really had to experiment with gels or fuelling so I will experiment with a variety of things and see what works for me. You're right about gels being an acquired taste and they are a weird consistency... :-)


Nothing much different to what you normally eat except for a bit more protein perhaps on your longer run days

Eat healthily, drink plenty of water and sleep! 😃

I’ve evolved over my running journey to eat less meat, potatoes and bread. Foods which slow me down and make me feel sluggish ☺️ I do eat them but less often and in much smaller quantities I eat more salads, fruit, veg, nuts, avocado, seeds etc these days.

I think my fave running fuel is porridge oats 💪😃

Good luck with your training. Keep us posted👍

Sandraj39Half Marathon in reply to misswobble

Another vote for porridge - I am very boring and have it for breakfast every day, with nuts/ berries/ bananas!🙂

misswobbleMarathon in reply to Sandraj39

I have it every day with PNB 💪😃

Sandraj39Half Marathon in reply to misswobble

I love PNB but have never had it in porridge! Think I might try PNB and banana with it tomorrow....👍

misswobbleMarathon in reply to Sandraj39

Almond “butter” is also lush in porridge 😋

Redcello41HUHM v5K

Yes I think I need to incorporate more protein into my diet and I will see how training goes! :-)


I wouldn’t worry about it really. Just think about fuelling properly. I’ve tried caffeinated tailwind - it’s good. Never had any issues with gels either. Sweets and Kendal mint cake are good too.


The night before an event I like a fish and pasta and salad. And the morning beforenis always porridge with blueberries or the like. I use caffeinated tailwind on training runs with a bladder in a backpack, but during events I tend to use clif blocks instead and drink the water provided at water stations, that way I don't have to worry about carrying so much. I tried gels but ... bluuggghh, not for me 🤢. You do just need to experiment, and you have lots of time for that. Enjoy!

Redcello41HUHM v5K in reply to linda9389

Great, thank you so much! I will let you know how I get on! 😃

Hi I’m doing my first half day in March as well. I’m interested in reading any advice too. Good luck with your training 👍

Redcello41HUHM v5K in reply to Cornet-Carolyn

Thanks, you too! 😃

WindozeHalf Marathon

I can advise what not have the night before....a curry and a few bottles of wine with your mates 🤪🤪😂😂

Saying that I did PB cov 10k the next day but I suspect it was more to do with sprinting to the portaloo from 2km...

But in all seriousness I use Anita Beans runners cookbook. It has some some good guidance and it works for me.


Redcello41HUHM v5K in reply to Windoze

Great will check that out, thanks! 😃

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