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“Hey Nancy, I’m running my first marathon tomorrow. What should I be eating?” asked the young man at the running store where I was giving a nutrition clinic.


Questions like that always stun me. This runner hadn’t thought much about nutrition, to say nothing about the importance of training his intestinal tract, as well as the heart, lungs and muscles. He was missing an essential part of a training program! If a marathoner cannot train his intestinal track to  tolerate fuel in some form before and during a marathon, he or she will be more likely to hit the wall..

As I discuss thoroughly in my Food Guide for Marathoners; Tips for Everyday Champions, runners need to fuel well the day before with a diet baed on carbs (pasta, rice, fruits, breads, vegetables). The day of the marathon, the runner wants to enjoy a tried-and-true breakfast (so as to avoid losing time in the porta-potty line), and then consume about 200 to 300 calories per hour after the  first 60 to 90 minutes. The strategy shold be to practice this during training, so the day before the marathon, you have no need to worry about what to eat to enjoy going the distance.

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Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Member since: Jul 8, 2007

Hi! I specialize in nutrition for exercise, and help active people figure out how to manage food, weight, exercise, energy and enjoyment of eating. Let me know if you have any questions!

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