What to Eat When Training for a Marathon

July 25, 2019

Whether you’re a seasoned competitor or it’s your first time running a marathon, training for race day requires excellent nutrition. What you eat on a daily basis throughout your training program is just as important as what you eat the day before the big event. Without the necessary dietary requirements, your athletic performance can suffer. Low energy levels and dehydration can occur when your body is not properly fueled. Staying on top of your dietary needs and understanding the fuel your body requires will set you up for success. In order to ensure a positive training experience, follow these helpful nutrition tips.

Consume nutrient-dense foods.

If you were not sustaining a healthy diet prior to your marathon training, it’s time to start. Stock your pantry and refrigerator with whole foods that provide complete nutrients, not just empty calories. The following nutrient-dense foods with help improve your marathon training:

  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Beans and lentils
  • Fish and lean meats
  • Leafy greens
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds

When you establish a foundation for healthy eating, your body will be able to meet the energy demands of marathon training. As you increase your training mileage, you might start to notice your body growing hungry sooner. It’s important to increase your calorie intake in this situation, but make sure you’re still fueling up with healthy foods. During long training runs, it’s smart to bring a snack for the road. Protein bars, bananas, sports gels and jellies or a peanut butter sandwich will provide the fuel that you need to finish your run strong.

Finding what foods are best for your body will come from trial and error. Knowing what your body needs to feel properly energized and knowing when to eat before a workout will ensure you are prepared and confident on race day.

Drink plenty of water.

In addition to eating right, your water intake is important for optimum performance. During your training period, hydrate with at least 16 ounces of water before you set out on a run. If you’re planning on completing a long training run, bring water with you and hydrate every 20 minutes. Let your thirst guide the way and listen to your body to gauge its hydration needs. You may also consider diluting a sports drink to provide your body with carbohydrates and electrolytes. Our bodies all respond differently to sports drinks, so find out what you can tolerate before you decide to mix these beverages into your hydration routine.

Every athlete is different, yet everyone can benefit from a healthy and adequate diet while training for a marathon. Drinking plenty of water and nourishing your body with the right foods is essential during the training process. If you want to feel confident about crossing the finish line, it’s time to stick to a healthy routine. Before you begin marathon training and make any dietary changes, talk to a doctor. Our physicians at Campbell Clinic are here to help you safely prepare for race day.


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