Training stages and nutritional intake
When it comes to training keeping an eye on your nutritional intake will help boost your performance and your recovery. It is important to vary your intake throughout training and eat larger quantities of food on the days when you’re training more
“Your carbohydrate intake should reflect your daily training load” Chloe explains, so it should be increased on your high-volume days and reduced on your days of recovery.
Getting enough protein in your diet is also important, “as a general rule, at least 1g protein per kg body weight, 3g carbs per kg body weight (as an absolute minimum), and fat making up the rest of energy needs.” If you follow a plant-based diet and struggle to eat enough protein, read on.
Something also to be mindful of is hydration. This will also change depending on the intensity of your training as your sweat loss rate increases with high-intensity training it will need to be replaced with water (or electrolytes). “As a rule of thumb, runners should aim to replace 150% of fluid lost over 4-6 hours following training. This can be done by weighing oneself before and after training. The difference in weight can be multiplied by 1.5 to get the number of litres of fluid to drink.”
On the day
For a race day itself, Chloe explains that “it's important to carb load in the 24-48h before the race to increase your muscle stores.”
Olympian, Eloise Wellings told Women’s Health that she swears by a trusty banana and toast for her pre-race breaky. "My advice is to steer clear of anything high in fibre in the morning, so I opt to have three pieces of white toast with honey and a banana. I’d never normally eat white bread because it’s low in fibre (during normal training, muesli is my brekkie of choice) but it’s easier to digest on the day of a race."
Chloe adds that some “runners often reduce fibre, high protein and high-fat foods in the last 12-24h to reduce stomach upset during the race.”
After you’ve completed the big race or any of your high-intensity training sessions Chloe recommends consuming a nutritionally beneficial snack to help maximise your recovery. “The meal or snack should include 20-25g of high-quality protein for muscle repair, plenty of carbohydrates to refuel muscles and healthy fats to reduce inflammation.”
Water is also a non-negotiable to rehydrate and replace sweat losses lost in the run.
Best food for marathon runners
When it comes to the specifics, five of Chloe’s favourite foods for marathon runners are:
Bananas are rich in carbohydrates, convenient and delicious
High in protein, carbs, electrolytes and fluids. Also a great option for muscle recovery.
Perfect as part of pre-run fuelling.
The omega 3s found in salmon can help with reducing muscle soreness and reducing inflammation.
A wildcard on the list, tart cherry juice can help reduce muscle soreness, assist with sleep and is also a good choice of carbs.