Training for a marathon requires a specific marathon training diet in order to keep the body healthy and in top form. During marathon training it’s important to modify calorie intake depending upon the part of training a marathoner is in. Just as the running sessions vary in order to train the body optimally and avoid injury, the diet should vary to follow the training schedule.
Marathon Training Diet Plan
There are three main stages to the marathon training diet plan:
- Marathon training diet: When training for a marathon, a runner may often get fatigued and frustrated, then quit, blaming the training program. However, the runner’s diet could be to blame instead. It is essential for the body to get enough carbohydrates in order to have the energy to complete the training. Going on a low-carb diet during marathon training can result in fatigue and poor performance. On average, a runner burns about 110 calories per mile. Approximately two-thirds of those calories should come from carbohydrates. A marathon runner should consume a diet that consists of 60% to 65% carbohydrates, 25% protein, and 10% fat. Additionally, the type of carbohydrates consumed can make a difference. Complex carbohydrates provide a slower, steadier supply of energy than simple carbohydrates.
- Marathon taper diet: The tapering period of a marathon training plan usually lasts about 2 to 3 weeks. During this period, the diet should also be modified, particularly considering total calorie count. Since the mileage drops, the calorie consumption should also drop. Some marathoners use a “super compensation” eating plan during the last week before the race. This includes depleting the carbohydrates stored in the muscles by gradually decreasing carbs from 65% to 40% during the first half of the week. This is followed by a loading period, where the diet includes 70% carbs until race day.
- Marathon race day diet: Runners need to be concerned about race preparation as well as fueling during the race. On race day the runner should wake up and eat a small meal of complex carbohydrates. Adding a small amount of fats will help maintain energy throughout the race. For example, a race day breakfast would consist of two pieces of buttered whole-grain toast and a banana. Avoiding simple carbohydrates will prevent a sugar high, followed a drop in energy. However, during the race it is okay to eat simple carbohydrates, like energy gels and bars or sports drinks.
How many calories does a marathoner require?
An average runner burns about 110 calories per mile. So if a training session is 10 miles, the runner requires 1100 extra calories to maintain his current body weight. The 20-mile long run will require an extra 2200 calories of fuel for maximum performance.
Marathon Training Menu
Marathoners should include foods that are high in complex carbohydrates (i.e., whole grain bread and pasta, oatmeal, legumes, and potatoes) and avoid junk calories (i.e., potato chips, pastries, candy, and ice cream).
Athletes training at a high intensity and preparing for a competition should pay close attention to the amount and types of foods they eat. Doing so can optimize performance and maintain the body’s health.