Expert Advice: Eating Before Your Marathon

A bagel with honey and perhaps peanut butter provides a good mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat before a race. Photo:

What you eat and when are important cogs to race-day success.

On race morning, it’s best to stick to foods you’ve eaten before long training runs that didn’t upset your stomach. The best pre-run training foods are simple carbohydrates that can be converted quickly to fuel, like a bagel with honey and perhaps a bit of peanut butter, if you’re accustomed to digesting this combo of mostly carbs, some protein and fat.

Felicia Stoler, DCN, MS, RD, a New Jersey-based nutritionist and exercise physiologist who wrote the book, “Living Skinny in Fat Genes: The Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Feel Great,” has clients who choose to eat lunch or dinner foods — even sushi rolls or pizza — before an early morning race. It really depends on what you’ve trained your body to tolerate.

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“The best pre-marathon foods are those that are rich in carbohydrates, protein and good fats. Food choices vary by personal preference and taste,” Stoler said. “The important thing to consider is to eat what you practice eating — use training runs to practice your fueling strategy, which should include a hydration plan. Timing your pre-race meal is key. The closer you get to running, the more liquid and digestible your food should be.

“For example, two hours before a race, you can eat a mixed macronutrient meal in the solid form. Within an hour to 30 minutes, eat something like a banana, yogurt or pudding. If it’s within 30 minutes, consume liquids only, and, at this point, only carbohydrate-containing liquids.”

Stoler’s recommended pre-marathon food picks include oatmeal, bagels, toast, fruit, nut butters, eggs, pasta, pizza rice, veggies, yogurt and cereal.

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