Marathon Training – Are you eating and drinking the right things?

Marathon Food & Drink

The Virgin London marathon approaches – Are you eating the right things as part of  your Marathon training?

No doubt you have been sweating, aching, even wondering why you inflicting such punishment upon yourself?

And have you answered the question – ‘have I optimised my chances of success with the best preparation?’


Marathon runners cannot be immune to the endless nutrition and hydration messages that abound in the endurance sports arena. There are endless webpages and products advising you what to do – to the point that confusion reigns.

In fact there is no simple answer to any of this because everybody is an individual and there is no one size fits all approach. They point is that you must use your training activities to experiment with what’s out there and find the best approach for you.

But the basic message is simple:-

  • You need to understand energy metabolism – carbohydrate, fat and even protein can be used as energy fuels – but you really don’t want to use your protein deposits which are after all the muscles you need for running. So how do you plan to avoid ‘consuming your own muscle’?
  • What is the best approach for you with respect to carb loading? in fact what are the approaches to carb loading – and do you know which one suits you?
  • How can you best prepare your energy reserves during the days before the event?
  • And what is the best approach to hydration? Water? Sports drinks? Hypertonic, hypotonic or isotonic? Should they contain glucose? Should they contain carbohydrate polymers and if so in what proportions? Should they contain electrolytes – and at what concentration? We all sweat at different rates which has an impact on the need (or not) for electrolyte replacement.

These are all important questions which individuals need to answer and experiment with to find the best individual approach. There are some really good websites populated with advice by evidence-based scientists – and there are some really bad websites populated with advice from people who think they know best. I have seen some real rubbish out there – advice about consuming huge amounts of protein which is a complete waste of time. Advice about consuming massive doses of vitamin C – which could have terrible effects on your stomach.

So make sure that wherever you are getting your advice from – it is reliable – which means it comes from evidence-based practice rather than popular myth.

If you would like help with finding such information and applying it to your own needs, or would like to understand more about the science behind performance then please contact Sue Force at The Mill Clinic, or 07490 413983

At The Mill Clinic we can treat injuries, help preparation and/or aid recovery, we can advise individuals, and we can advise teams on the appropriate nutrition, we can also point you in the direction of evidence-based sources of advice.

Sue Force