LA Marathon Tip #2 – Think When You Eat

I get more questions on how much to eat before, during and after a marathon. Hopefully you have been practicing eating on your long runs during your training. After extensive training, reading and practicing, the following suggestions are based on my personal experience. I am not a nutritionist or a doctor, for an expert opinion seek a qualified professional.

Pre-race day – I eat a balanced diet until Wednesday. Remember that most nutritionists recommend at least 50% of your daily calories come from carbs as part of a balanced diet. Of course, you should always try to make those complex carbs with fruits and vegetables.

Wednesday and Thursday, I up my caloric intake and increase the carbs. I am looking for complex carbs, focusing on fruits and vegetables. I snack all day long. Friday, I go back to regular eating. Saturday I eat light all day then I have a pre-race meal about 6:00 P.M. I am not a huge fan of “Carbo Loading” the night before the race because I already did it Wednesday and Thursday. In fact, I like some meat the night before to firm everything up inside me. That’s my routine.

Race-day – I wake up early to eat my race-day meal of oatmeal and a banana. I eat this about 2.5 hours before the starting time of the race. I usually bring a Cliff Bar, coconut juice, water and sometimes a cup of coffee to eat and drink before the race. I sip the drinks and eat a little while I wait for the start. I’ll eat between 100 – 225 calories every hour. This will be different for each one of you depending on your height, weight and gender. Most of you should try to get down at least 100 calories an hour. I also eat some solid food early in the race before going to the gels.

RACE DAY, do not change anything NOW (it is too late or you are taking chances), eat what you have been practicing eating during your training.

Post-race – Try to get some food in you right away. I look for some protein mixed in with some carbs. I drink some sports drinks and walk around. I’ll wait an hour or two before I eat a larger meal.

Take notes on what you eat to see what worked for you or what didn’t. Learn a pre-race food routine. If you can do this with your fuel you can learn to take the guesswork out of your race, relax and avoid the Bonk (running out of gas)

Eat Healthy and Race Well,

Steve Mackel, USA Triathlon Coach


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