What to eat when training for a marathon or triathlon

Carbs, coconut oil and cherries – these three foodstuffs form the basis of many a professional marathon runner’s diet in the countdown to race day. If you’re training for a marathon, here are some ideas on what you should be eating for a well fuelled body over the course of those 26 miles.

Food that fuels training

Before and after a training session
Carbohydrate-rich snacks are the ideal, tummy filling solution prior to any training session. You can also indulge in Lucozade Sport throughout training, which handily packs in a great source of carbohydrate.

Following your session you may want to re-hydrate on a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink (which is important as electrolytes assist with fluid balance and absorption).

Day to Day

Protein-rich breakfasts provide unparalleled support for muscle growth and repair. Introducing pineapple alongside this can assist soft tissue repair.

For optimal energy production, you should choose foods rich in micronutrients such as magnesium, iron and omega 3, such as salmon, dark green leafy vegetables, red meat and sea food.

Lunches should be focused on Omega-3, fibre, selenium, magnesium and vitamins A, C, E and K.

The following foods should ideally be consumed at least once a week: Chicken breast, Smoked mackerel, Turkey Stir Fry, Tuna Wholegrain Pasta, Homemade vegetable soup, and Tuna and Sweet potato jackets.

Mix and match these with ingredients of: oranges, quinoa, spinach, avocado, apple, pesto, olives and broccoli.

Following a day’s training, you should try to consume at least 20g of high quality protein (ideally from meat, fish or dairy). This is most effective when consumed within 60 minutes of your exercise finishing.
Dinner ideas include:

Pasta with pancetta, butternut squash, crème fraiche and parmesan – A great mix of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, iron, potassium, fibre, folic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids. All of which will serve you well should this be your pre-race day dinner.

Chicken stew with pinto beans and quinoa – Protein-rich, carbohydrate packed, but completely gluten free.

Cajun Chicken enchiladas in salsa with broccoli – This meal is stuffed full of B-Vitamins (which provide slow energy release as well as assisting in the normal functioning of the nervous system).

Snack ideas
Greek yogurt accompanied with fresh cherries – ideal for a slowly digesting snack. As the cherries also contain melatonin, you can additionally be certain of a balanced body clock and a great night’s sleep!

Protein mouse with berries – This snack is full of Amino Acid (great for ensuring your legs are rested and restored overnight).

Superfood smoothies – Think banana, wheatgrass, lemon and acai berries, a perfect blend for detoxing.

The final week before the race

The potential of carb-overload

Carbs are critically important come the final week before the marathon – however you only need to up your intake by around 10% for the three days immediately before the race. The result of which is plenty of stored glycogen to ensure you power off of the starting line.

With that said however, you need to note that you need carbs, not fat-laden, calorie heavy foodstuffs – think oats, rice, pasta with healthy sauces and wholemeal toast and try to work in one carb based food in each meal and snack.

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