A lot of people carb loading drastically on the two days prior to a marathon, often leaving them feeling heavy, bloated and less than eager to run. However, by sticking to normal/light meals and eating a little more regularly – increasing your intake of low-medium glycemic carbohydrates (sweet potato, quinoa, white potatoes, white rice).
The week leading up to a marathon I increase my carb intake, although my overall calories stay roughly the same. It might feel like you’re eating more because you’re not working out as intensely. But it’s the combination of the reduced mileage/workload and increased carbohydrate that helps replenish the muscle glycogen (energy) stores.
Gradually increasing your carb intake by 8-10g per kg/body weight per day for 2-3 days pre-race, in the form of snacks, smoothies, sports drinks, should leave you feeling full but not stuffed.
Did you know that carb loading can, on average, add 2kg body weight to a runner because of the extra water stored in the body for every gram of glycogen stored? However, studies show that the performance benefits of ‘carb loading’ offset any negatives to being a little heavier.
Personally, I stocked up on sweet potatoes, pasta, starchy vegetables, lean proteins (and cheese!), fruit, yogurt, milk and bread/wraps.
Throughout the week I added daily smoothies as my mid-morning snack, Snack-o-Jacks at lunch, big hearty salads at lunch and pasta/potato based dinners. The kids I nanny were more than happy with pasta, fajitas and burgers this week.
This particular meal above, I had bought ingredients to make a strawberry salad (that will be in my recipe book- you can pre-order here), but discovered that Tom had eaten a lot of the ingredients for his lunch. Therefore it was a bit of a random mish-mash of roasted sweet potatoes, halloumi, avocado, roasted tomatoes and a balsamic dressing.
Breakfasts were just a little bigger in portion sizes – either porridge with raspberries and strawberries with nut butter, or Greek yogurt, granola (my favourite Purely Elizabeth) with berries, and a milky coffee. Did you know there’s up to 10g carbs in a latte!
Pre – Race -> The night before I tend to eat pasta (I know I’m weird but I’m not a huge fan of pizza). I cooked a fresh tomato and basil sauce with white pasta, small handful of spinach, fresh mozzarella and chicken sausage for our dinner.
I typically use wholewheat pasta at home for increased fibre and protein content, but pre-long run or pre-race I always choose white, simple starch pasta.
Race Morning -> Coffee, a plain bagel (or a cinnamon raisin) with crunchy peanut butter and a banana. Bottle of Nuun. I also sipped a bottle of water on my way to the start and had a cup of tea in a cafe while I waited out the rain.
Mid Race -> 3 Huma Gels (two with caffeine), 2 Salted Caramel Gu’s. I took these every 4/5 miles – whenever there was a water station. Plus a couple of sips of Nuun at mile 10.
Post Race -> Ellie had a Diet Coke ready for me post-race. I then had a cheeky McDonald’s in the bath before a delicious dinner out to celebrate.
Full disclosure – I am not a registered dietitian, yet…I am about 3 months from graduating.