Training for a marathon is a great excuse to start eating more nutritious food, which is what you’ve always wanted, right? The good part is, because you’re going to be burning so many more calories, you may actually find that you’re able to eat more than you usually do. PLUS, you get to eat a lot of carbohydrates (take that, Dr. Atkins!) You’ll still need to pay attention to making lower fat choices, but you’ll get to focus on items such as pasta, bread, and potatoes in order to fuel your workouts
After you’ve been running for a while you may actually start to crave healthy foods. Before long you’ll be munching on carrot sticks instead of going out for ice cream. OK, maybe you’ll still want ice cream… but it’ll be carrot-flavored ice cream.
The basic things to remember are:
- Eat meals that are high in carbohydrates and low in fat. Don’t forget the lean proteins (chicken, fish, legumes).
- Eat fruits and vegetables, but be sure not to have too many the day before the race (potential digestive disaster while you’re running – let’s not go there).
- Drink plenty of water, even on days that you’re not running. During your training period, you’ll need to consume 3-4 liters of water a day at a minimum. And we’re sure you know the old “check your urine-color” test. Not exactly dinner table conversation, but the darker yellow your urine is, the more water you need to consume.
- It’s a good idea to eat a small snack and have a glass of water about a half-hour before you run. Carbohydrates are usually the best choice, with dairy being the worst. Definitely avoid alcohol and caffinated beverages (coffee, tea, cola) as they are diuretics and will quickly dehydrate you.
- It will take a bit of experimenting to discover which foods work best for you before your workouts (that is, which foods won’t have you doubled over with stomach cramps midway through the run).
- “Carbo loading” (more fun marathon lingo) is reserved for the day or two before an actual race. It refers to eating more carbohydrates (pasta, bagels, etc.) than proteins or fats. This is because your body converts carbohydrates to energy faster than it does with other foods. Therefore, it is common for marathoners to eat a big bowl of pasta the night before the race. Quick note of caution – it is generally not a good idea to carbo load on a regular basis, particularly if you are concerned with weight maintenance.
Keep running and live to race another day,