Preparing for a marathon normally takes three different elements, firstly the physical training, then followed by the physiological study and last but not least the nutrition side of things. The physical training may take up to five months or so, but it will all be for nothing if it does not go hand in hand with the types of food you eat. Your diet leading up to the weeks immediately before the big race is of critical importance. But you should be thinking far earlier about introducing the correct food elements into your system far before this, it will greatly help your training. So what foodstuffs should you be eating the week before and on the day of a marathon?
Eat Familiar Foods
Race day or even the week before race day is not the time to experiment with your food, or for that matter stray away too far from your training diet. You should however experiment weeks before the marathon with the times you eat prior to and after running. Some runner’s digestion works quicker than others and they can eat just an hour before they run, in other cases it can be as long as three hours. You need to figure out what category you fit into and eat at a time accordingly.
The Days Leading up to a Race
Five days before the event you should start to build up on your carbs intake, eat more pasta with your meals. Do not try to overload on carbohydrates a couple of days before the race, this will not work, and you will simply feel bloated and lethargic. The types of foods you should be eating are, oatmeal, grains, brown rice, pasta, sandwiches etc.
Two Days Before Racing
The last large meal you eat should be 48 hours before the marathon, it will give your system plenty of time to accept and digest the food. Many runners stuff their faces with carbs the night before they run, but this is too much and far too late in the digestion cycle.
24 Hours Prior
Just eat a balanced meal as you have done all through your training, there is no magic formula of food before a marathon. The key here is to take on board plenty of fluids especially electrolyte-type drinks. A tip from one seasoned marathon runner is to carry a water bottle around all day, just to remind you to drink. The foods you ingest the day before should be of a low or medium glycaemic index type. These would include oat bran, muesli, wild rice, durum wheat etc.
Before the race eat a small breakfast, remember to give enough time for digestion. Your drink intake should be mostly water with some electrolyte fluids as well. Try to drink in small amounts but regularly, the recommended quantities are around 6 ounces every hour. An ideal breakfast would be some oatmeal with a banana and a cup of coffee, perhaps experiment with some toast and honey or even some peanut butter. Now your preparation is complete, you should not be concentrating on anything but the event in front of you, and your pre-race preparations.