Disclaimer: This is going to be about how I prepared (in terms of nutrition) for the Marathon. Please note that I’ve only ever ran a Marathon once in my life. So, follow at your own risk.
Nutrition is essential for a healthy body. It becomes even more important when you’re training for a marathon. Eating proper foods can give you the energy and fuel you need to survive your training.
Before my marathon training began, I have always stuck to a relatively healthy diet. Some refer to this as the 70/30 rule (eating clean 70% of the time and indulging in your favourite foods in the remaining 30%). If you are aiming for a lean and mean physique, then maybe you can opt for the 80/20 rule (not my cup of tea and I don’t think I can survive that). Match them to your fitness goal/s and see which one works for you. Remember, it has to be sustainable.
Eating clean/healthy is something that comes naturally. It is something that I WANT to do. I’ve been practising this habit for quite some time now so it doesn’t come as a chore. I enjoy eating what I eat too!
The changes I made to my own diet:
Thankfully, I didn’t have to make any major changes to my diet. I just had to increase my carbohydrate and protein intake to go through the grueling hours of training and also to recover.
So, what do I eat 70% of the time? Here’s a list of my everyday source of:
Protein: Tuna, eggs, beans, chicken, salmon, quinoa, beef (Occasionally lamb and pork)
Vegetables: Spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, zucchini (Whatever that is available)
And the remaining 30%?
We were given a rough diet plan to follow. Basically, everything under this 30% section should be avoided. You wouldn’t want to be carrying any excess weight on race day!
The biggest change that I had to make to my diet was
eating all cutting out the cake and ice cream. Of course, I didn’t eliminate them. That would be crazy. Always remember, everything in moderation. I did, however, try to avoid other refined sugar and fatty foods. I don’t like how they make me feel (bloated, lethargic) especially during training. I don’t particularly like fried stuff so that was easy to avoid.
You have to find your own balance in life and what would suit your schedule. For me, weekend track sessions were the WORST because that meant I couldn’t be out eating my CAKE and ICE CREAM! Oh the pain.
Other meal ideas:
Breakfast is the first meal of the day. So, you gotta’ get it right, right?! Quick and easy to prep! I literally take 10 minutes (no time to waste) every morning to prepare and eat.
On top of your everyday meals, you may need an extra boost or pre-workout snack to fuel your training session. I trained mostly in the evening which meant that I had to snack during working hours. I needed something that was quick, easy and yummy. Thanks to one of our sponsors, Powerbar, snacking on the go was not a problem.
Other good pre-workout snacks (that I consumed as well):
Try to stay away from refined sugars (ooppps!) which would cause a spike in your insulin levels. Your body will experience the crash unless you continue feeding it with sugar. Opt for foods with natural sugars.
Your post-workout meal is just as important as your pre-workout meal. A good mix of carbs and proteins should do the trick. This would help replenish muscle glycogen stores and aid in muscle building. Try not to go too long without eating (within the next 30 mins – 1 hour after your workout when protein and glycogen synthesis is highest) as this could delay recovery rate and your body may start to breakdown muscle tissue.
It is not always convenient to eat within that time frame and you may not have an appetite to do so. The solution? Pack your favourite snack (healthy). I always have my green apples with me. If I am racing, I would pack some wholegrain bread and yoghurt. This would be sufficient to last me until my next meal.
Ok, I’m kidding. No supper. Go to bed.
No, seriously. NO!
Eating the right foods at the right time will compliment your marathon training. I hope that I’ve helped you in some way.
Now, fuel that tank and get back to your training!
Let me know what you guys think! How do you fuel for your marathon training?
Happy eating and have fun running!