Marathon Training Nutrition
Decisions Tip #7

There is quite a long list of marathon training nutrition decisions to be made. How many carbs? What do I eat before the marathon? Do I need vitamin mineral supplements? You can crunch numbers and keep logs, but there are only so many minutes in a day and you have lots of miles to run, cross training to do and friends and family to tend to. Some days we just need to do our best with the marathon training. Think about this:

"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing." Theodore Roosevelt

Most marathon training plans are 18 weeks long. The great thing about this is that you have all that time to test your marathon training nutrition decisions and see what works and what doesn’t work. Let’s look at some common concerns:

  • I’m afraid I’ll gain weight if I “up” my carb intake.
    You need the carbs for fuel more than you need to worry about your weight right now. You need to be able to successfully finish the miles. Eating carbs is the right thing. You may get enough additional carbs just in the sports drinks you start to use. It doesn’t mean you have to go on a pasta-frenzy. And although you need carbs everyday, you still need to keep them proportional to the amount of work you are doing (i.e., less carbs on a lower mileage “cut back” week). The worst thing would be to ignore your carb intake. Carb is the fuel of choice for marathon training.

  • I’m so nervous about eating before the marathon.”
    Make it easy on yourself. One of the best marathon training nutrition decisions you can make is to practice your pre-marathon “meal” before ALL of your long training runs, which should be about eleven or twelve long runs. The worst thing you could do is trying something new and different marathon morning. Include some of these timing tips in your marathon training nutrition decisions.

  • Do I need vitamin mineral supplements?
    Research does not support the need for vit-min supplementation for most endurance athletes. As your food intake increases to meet your calorie needs your vitamin and mineral intake should increase as well. So the best thing is to use common sense and eat a variety of whole foods everyday. A basic multivitamin can be taken to cover the gaps in your food intake. Runners who are experiencing significant fatigue (regardless of hydration and good carb status) should check with their physicians about iron supplementation. Women who don’t drink milk or have very low body fat stores and have stopped having regular periods may need calcium supplements. The worst thing you can do is ignore a lousy diet during marathon training. Any attempt to eat better beats no attempt at all. Keep this in mind everyday as your work through the many marathon training nutrition decisions in the weeks to come.

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