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Marathon Nutrition Before The Race

The days leading up to the race

Just like in your training, consistency is key. Don't make any big changes to your daily diet while you’re training for a marathon.

Eat more carbohydrates

It’s important to make sure your fuel stores (muscle glycogen) are full, but attempting to "front load" excessive amounts of water, carbs, and/or sodium is ineffective and counterproductive.

Eating more carbohydrates doesn’t mean overeating or eating as much as possible. It just means making sure that more of your daily calories come from carbohydrates at the cost of some fat.

Hydrate, but don’t overload

Before the race, drink 2-4 liters daily in the 48-72 hours leading up to the big race.

Consume your regular electrolyte beverage as if you had done a hard training session. This will ensure you’re hydrated but not overloading your system. Taking in too much sodium can disrupt your body's natural ability to regulate and conserve this mineral – resulting in cramping, weakness or worse on race day.

If you’ve traveled to a race, it’s especially important to stay hydrated. Air travel is dehydrating, because humidity inside the cabin is lower than normal. Your home is likely between 30- and 60-percent humidity, while inside an airplane, it can drop to less than 20 percent.

The night before the race

Avoid any last-minute changes – make sure whatever you choose to eat the night before the race is something you’re used to eating.

Consume complex carbohydrates, some high-quality protein, and little fat. A good pre-race meal is a grain or potato-based dish with a palm-sized protein serving, some well-cooked/starchy vegetables and plenty of fluids, for example, chicken (or tofu) and roasted potatoes with vegetables.

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