Marathon nutrition: How to train, recover and fuel your way to achieve your marathon goals.

What are you doing this weekend? “Running, I’m running this weekend, next weekend, FOREVER.” 

Marathon season is upon us– the number of runners hitting the pavements is noticeably swelling. If you’re one of them here’s some nutrition tips to help maximise your training and get you properly fuelled for race day.

Training Fuel:

·         Get your basics right – a diet of wholegrain carbohydrates, plenty of fruit and vegetables, good fats and lean protein will not only fuel your training but keep you healthy and well and less prone to illness and injury.

·         Eat according to your training: Carbohydrates fuel your run, the amount you have should reflect the amount you’re doing. On longer or high intensity runs you should make nutrient dense carbohydrates your priority and decrease the intake on easy or rest days. Think about basing your main meals around wholegrain carbohydrates like rice, pasta, potatoes and bread.

Post run recovery food

·         Make your post run snack carb rich - this helps replenish muscle fuel stores. Add a source of lean protein; this builds new muscle and red blood cells as well as helping with repair and adaptation. Good ideas include a flavoured milk, yogurt, fruit and cereal, nut butter and banana on toast or hummus on pitta.  

Race fuel: You train your muscles, why not your gut?

Runners gut is a common complaint amongst marathoners. There are a number of factors at play here; blood flow to the stomach is reduced after an extended period of exercise and this is exacerbated by dehydration plus an increase in stress hormones. Whilst it may seem the better option to eat and drink less before and during the run,  instead you should start training your gut to get used to running with more carbohydrates and water.


-         Most people run the second half of a marathon slower than the first half due to inadequate fuelling.

-         If you want to run better and faster the evidence shows that ingesting an average of around 60g of carbohydrates per hour for a half marathon or longer prevents muscle tiredness and will help you maintain pace.


-         A range of low fibre simple sugars during training eg sports gels, drinks, jelly babies  plus “real food” like cereal bars and bananas. This has two advantages -not only will you be able to work out what’s best for your stomach but you will also be developing the effectiveness of your body to transport the sugar out of your GI tract and into your muscles. If you eat paleo, train low carb then race with carbohydrates your body will not be very effective at using them,  it also  increases the chances of an upset stomach.

-         Drink enough fluids and get used to running with more water so your body gets comfortable with this.

Key points

          Eat enough carbohydrates to fuel your training
          Practise your race nutrition
          Be adaptable – find what works best for you
          Don’t forget to hydrate properly

So fuelling properly during training and getting your race nutrition nailed, in combination with a good physiotherapy programme  and training plan will help you achieve your running goals.