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What I Really Eat in a Day When Marathon Training

Dec 6, 2018 | Dietetics, Nutrition, Nutrition for Running, Pre Run Training Nutrition | 1 comment

This post is in partnership with Aqua Optima. 

what I really eat in a day - water wednesdays

I’m hungry ALL THE TIME. Or so it can feel like. And when I’m marathon training, it can just get even worse.

I don’t count calories. I don’t track macros. And I hardly ever measure my food…unless I’m following or writing a recipe (sometimes, not even then).

I sometimes don’t follow the advice that I give other runners or patients that I see in a clinical setting a part of my dietetics degree. Writing it all down for a day has given me a lot to think about in terms of what advice I would give to me, and to make some changes as I continue with my marathon training.

5.45am – I usually don’t eat before going for my morning run, unless it’s a long run or particularly hard session. On mornings that I do a threshold or speed session in the early morning, I’ll either have some Nuun Performance – a mixture of electrolytes and carbs (15g, 60kcal per serving), this keeps me fueled during the 7ish miles and stop my stomach growling. Alternatively, I have a milky coffee on the way to the track on Tuesday mornings which powers me through my speed workout.

Nuun Performance, what I eat in a day

7am: Nespresso with a scoop of Collagen Protein sipped on the way to the train station.

8.30am: Overnight oats at my desk, I typically use a mix of Waitrose Bircher Muesli with added porridge oats. I don’t measure out my oats or almond milk, just sort of wing it in my tupperware, but it’s definitely over the ‘serving size suggestion’. I top it with fresh fruit just before I leave the house.

11am: Snack time. Yep, two and a bit hours of talking about food on the wards with patients mean that I’m already hungry by 11am. I usually have a cup of tea and a piece of fruit, and a snack bar. I’m terrible at drinking water during the day because there isn’t a water fountain in the office, so it’s a bit of a hassle to fill up my waterbottle. Instead, I find myself making cups of tea when I’m thirsty after I finish my first bottle.

Nuun Performance, what I eat in a day

12.30/1pm: Lunch. I wish I could say I made a balanced, highly nutritious packed lunch daily but truthfully, most days I go to Pret for lunch for a soup, bread roll, pot of Mango, bottle of fizzy water and the chocolate almond butter squares – totally love them. The soup has more salt than I would probably choose to have, and it costs more than making lunch at home – however I just haven’t got time to plan ahead everyday.

What I really eat in a day

3.30pm: Cup of tea or two, with the chocolate almond squares, and sometimes whatever biscuit/chocolate is going around the office, depending on how stressed/exhausted I feel!

5pm: Another cup of tea while I cook dinner for the kids. I’ll usually pick on something while cooking too, although I try to cut up carrot sticks or snack on cherry tomatoes rather than more chocolate!

7pm: Dinner is usually pretty healthy, especially if I eat with the kids. Tonight we had Salmon Stirfry with egg noodles, followed by berries and yogurt.

9pm: Cup of tea before bed.

10pm: Glass of water taken to bed with me. I’m often really thirsty before bed, which isn’t great when I have workouts first thing. I often find myself drinking a whole glass of water while getting ready for bed, then leaving another on my bedside table incase I wake up.

What I really eat in a day

Reading over this, I’m actually quite shocked by just how many cups of tea I drink and how many sweet treats I have throughout the day. And I know the more stressed I am, and the less sleep I get, the more I crave sugar.

Nutrition advice I would give myself;

  • Less caffeine. Although I’ve cut down my coffee to one/two a day, I drink a lot of tea. I could swap these for decaf teas or herbal tea, especially in the evening.
  • Less salt. By having pre-prepared food from Pret (or anywhere), we often consume more salt than we realise. Having read the nutrition label on the Pret website I was a little shocked to see how much salt is in their soups.
  • Less sugar. This is a big one, as I know my intake of sugary treats increased a lot at the hospital. I am going to try to limit myself to one sweet treat per day, in whatever form, and swap the other snacks to fruit, nuts, veggies or just healthier versions of the ‘treats’. I have got into such a habit of rewarding myself for getting through the day with chocolate, biscuits, or cake, and I don’t need it.
  • 5 a day…PLUS. I’m usually pretty good at getting my five a day, but with research from Imperial College showing we should be consuming 10 pieces of fruit & veg per day, I could do with increasing my intake.
  • Protein – I do think I get enough protein in my diet, eating a combination of lean meat/poultry, dairy and protein powder. I could also add more vegetarian/vegan sources of protein into my diet; beans, grains, eggs and nuts.
  • Fibre – another area I often look at with clients, especially ones that might mention that they’re hungry a lot, is the fibre content in their diet. Soluble fibre, like oats, fruits, vegetables and legumes – they take longer to digest, helping to increase fullness and satiety, as well as regulating blood glucose level and lowering cholesterol. Adding in more soluble fibre to snacks and meals can help with marathon hunger!
  • More water. I do not drink nearly enough water, especially for the amount I sweat during my workouts. Most people should be drinking between 1.5-2L water per day, however some need more than that!

Aqua Optima have challenged me – and you – to Water Wednesday. It’s an initiative encouraging people in the UK (and worldwide!) to swap sugary drinks for water every Wednesday! I’m also going to make the effort to swap some of my caffeinated drinks for water too.

Give it a try…you might surprise yourself how much sugar you’re drinking, or by how much more water we should be drinking every other day!

1 Comment

  1. Lindsay

    Thanks for the recap! I feel like food in England honestly has a LOT less salt than the US … have you found that when you’ve been to the US for holidays/work stuff do you notice that you are having to drink more water to compensate? I try to drink plenty of water … but I really like sparkling flavored water and I know there are fake sugars in the waters … but I really enjoy them! <3


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