Diet for Marathon Runners – Training

How do you put it all together to plan what you will eat and drink for training?

    • It is not hard to plan your training diet. Start with three main meals, morning and afternoon tea – these meals should meet baseline nutritional requirements.
    • To meet your increased energy needs you may need to increase your carbohydrate foods.
    • Check that you are eating enough protein, iron and calcium containing foods.
    • Make sure you are meeting your basic fluid needs as well as increased fluid needs when training.
    • A good guide to meeting your needs is a stable body weight and satisfying your appetite.
    • Once you have planned your training diet you will be able to adapt it to meet your body’s needs during different phases of training.
    • Your training nutrition is changing constantly so keep an eating record and check this every six to eight weeks to ensure you are meeting all of the nutritional recommendations.


The checklist below will show you where you are at with your training nutrition. After you have filled out your eating record go through the checklist and identify where you are not meeting the recommendations. Set goals for improvement.

 

Checklist for training nutrition

Did you have breakfast? Yes / No
Did you have lunch? Yes / No
Did you have dinner? Yes / No
Did you eat carbohydrate in the 2 hours before training? Yes / No
Did you eat carbohydrate and protein within half to one hour after training? Yes / No
Did you have 6-8 cups of fluid? Yes / No
Did you have extra fluid before/during/after training? Yes / No
Did you have enough serves of carbohydrate to meet your needs? Yes / No
Did you have enough serves of protein to meet your needs? Yes / No
Did you have enough serves of food containing iron to meet your needs? Yes / No
Did you have enough serves of food containing calcium to meet your needs? Yes / No

 

Main points for the diet of marathon runners

    • You need a nutritional plan for training to ensure you are meeting your body’s increased energy and nutrient requirements.
    • Carbohydrate provides the most readily available superior source of fuel or “energy” for muscles to use. Athletes should consume 55-70% of their energy from carbohydrate (5-10 g per kg of body weight per day), depending on their sport.
    • Protein provides the body’s building blocks. Athletes should consume 15% of their energy from protein (0.8-1.7 g per kg of body weight per day), depending on their sport.
    • Fat provides the body’s most concentrated energy source. Athletes should try to keep their fat intake low. To learn more about tapping into your body fat supply when running click here
    • Fluids are essential to regulate temperature and prevent dehydration. Athletes should drink fluid before, during and after exercise. There are many fluids athletes can choose. Sports drinks are specifically designed for efficient rehydration. The optimum composition for sports drinks is 4-8% carbohydrate and 500-700 mg/litre of sodium.
    • Iron is an essential element. A well planned diet will provide sufficient iron.
    • Calcium intake is important to ensure peak bone mass and maintenance of strong bones.

 

How do you put it all together to design a nutritional plan for training? Start with three main meals and snacks and check that you have included enough carbohydrate, protein, fluid, iron and calcium to meet your needs.