Stick to foods that you are familiar with in the lead up to the race.
You will be primarily relying on your carbohydrate stores during the race so fuelling up by increasing your carbohydrate intake in the week before will ensure your muscles are fully loaded.
However, don’t allow your total calorie intake to increase as your training is reducing. You will also want to avoid gaining any extra weight in the last few weeks before the marathon.
Remember not to neglect your hydration in the final build up to the race.
Eat well the night before
What you eat the night before your race is important, but don’t overthink it.
Eat something you enjoy and are familiar with, ensuring it is rich in carbohydrates. Foods like pasta, rice, bread or potatoes will mean your carbohydrate stores in your muscle and liver are stocked up.
These stores are the petrol to the engine on race day and will delay the feeling of tiredness and fatigue during the race.
Have an early dinner and an early night
Make sure you plan your pre-race meals in advance so that you have time to relax.
Eating at a reasonable time will give your body time to digest your food and help you wind down for a good night’s sleep. A lack of good quality sleep may affect your performance the following day.
Race day breakfast
Running a marathon requires a huge amount of energy, so your race day nutrition is crucial.
Your breakfast should ideally be carbohydrate based and low in fibre and fat, as these can cause an upset stomach.
Stick to what you have eaten during training and know what works for you. Good options include porridge, toast, cereal, bagels and fruit juice.
Being hydrated before the race starts is important. Keep a drink with you in the build up to crossing the start line, little and often is key.
Dehydration may result in a decline in endurance performance.
Even a 2% reduction in your body water weight has been shown to negatively impact performance, reducing the intensity you are able to sustain.
Keep fuelled during the race
The stores of carbohydrate in your body will deplete during the race. To combat this and avoid fatigue, consume some carbohydrate during the race such as sports drinks, gels, bananas or dried fruit.
It is recommended on average to eat between 30g-60g of carbohydrate per hour. However, the best advice is to simply replicate what you have practiced in training.
Remember though, everyone is different when it comes to the amount and type of fuel they can take on while running.
When it comes to gels, practice really is the most important thing to consider when using them. Have an idea of when you are going to take them. They are available at miles 14, 18 and 22.
Post-race rehydration and recovery
Recovery starts as soon as you cross the finish line. The race might be over, but your body still needs help to get back to its best.
Rehydrating in the hours after exercise should also be an important part of your strategy.
Sports drinks provide carbohydrates and electrolytes to help replenish what you’ve lost.
Celebrate with a serious meal
You did it! So make sure to reward yourself with a meal you enjoy, but don’t neglect carbohydrates.
It is important to replenish your carbohydrate stores as they are likely to be low having just run 26.2 miles.
Finish up with some protein
It’s not just carbohydrate that is important after the race. Combine it with some protein to help your muscles grow and adapt.
Treat yourself with around 20g of high-quality protein, this is equivalent to a palm-sized portion of protein on a plate of food such as meat, fish or dairy.
The London Marathon will take place on Sunday 28th April.
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