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Meal Plan For the Day Before a Marathon

Updated on July 20, 2015

Day Before a Marathon Menu Plan

Experienced distance runners know the value of eating a filling meal the night before a marathon. A marathoner’s diet needs to have an adequate amount of carbohydrates to sustain the runner for the length of the marathon which is 26.2 miles. While most marathons offer an expensive spaghetti dinner the night before the marathon, eating a high-carb dinner alone will not provide the runner with enough energy to complete a marathon successfully. Athletes need to eat a healthy high-carb breakfast, lunch, and dinner the day before the marathon. This article will provide runners a sample menu plan customized for the day before a marathon.

Distance runners value carbohydrate so highly because carbohydrates break down into glycogen, which then provides energy (Dunford, 2006). Nutritionists recommend for marathon runners to consume at least eight grams of carbohydrates for every two pounds of weight the day before a marathon. Using this formula, runners need to consume 70% more carbohydrates on the day before a marathon than they would on normal running days (Burke, 2013). For example, a person who weighs 150 pounds should consume 600 grams of carbohydrates.

The following menu plan is for an individual who weighs 150 pounds. Depending on weight, an individual can either drop or double certain food items.

Breakfast: 130g Carbohydrates

•1 cup honey Greek yogurt (32g carbohydrates)

•1 cup oatmeal (59g carbohydrates)

•1 large banana (27g carbohydrates)

•8 ounces of low-fat milk (12g carbohydrates

Snack: 44g Carbohydrates

•1 large pear (32g carbohydrates)

•8 ounces of low-fat milk (12g carbohydrates)

Lunch: 142g Carbohydrates

•2 flour tortillas (18g carbohydrates)

•1 cup Spanish rice (46g carbohydrates)

•1 cup black beans (41g carbohydrates)

•11/2 cup crumbled beef (11g carbohydrates)

•16 ounces of lemonade (26g carbohydrates)

Snack: 85g Carbohydrates

•1 bagel with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (59g carbohydrates)

•16 ounces of lemonade (26g carbohydrates)

Dinner: 203g Carbohydrates

•Chicken and asparagus with penne (43g carbohydrates)

•Cobb salad with dressing (22g carbohydrates)

•1 wheat roll (18g carbohydrates)

•1 large sweet potato (25g carbohydrates)

•16 ounces of sweet tea (32g carbohydrates)

•1 cup mint sherbet (63g carbohydrates)

Total Menu Carbohydrates: 604g Carbohydrates

Just as it is essential for a runner to consume an adequate supply of carbohydrates, distance runners need proper hydration. Female marathon runners need to increase the normal amount of water they consume of 2 liters a day, to 2.5 liters the day before the marathon. Male marathon runners need to increase their water intake from 2.5 liters to 3 liters the day before the marathon (Fitzgerald, 2013). However, runners need to weary of not drinking too much water. Drinking too much water may lead to hyponatremia, a deadly condition known as water intoxication (Burke, 2013). Symptoms of hyponatremia include vomiting, dizziness, and heart palpitations.

Experienced distance runners know that consuming 70% or more carbohydrates the day before a marathon is vital for runners to have the energy needed to complete the 26.2-mile run. Runners also need to be aware of the amount of how much water they are drinking, whether too much or too little. By preparing with the right nutrition and hydration, runners are putting their best foot forward for completing a marathon.

In Case You Really Care About References

Burke, L. (2013). Nutrition Strategies For The Marathon. Sports Medicine, 344-347.

Dunford, M. Sports Nutrition: A Practice Manual for Professionals, 4th ed. American Dietetic Association; 2006.

Fitzgerald, M. (2013). The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press


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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

      Very interesting. Wish you would have gone into a little more detail on alternatives. I can't eat pasta or drink milk.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      I have not run a marathon but if I did this post will prove very useful. Actually, I think I would use this meal plan any day just for good health reasons.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 2 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      This hub should do very well. There are many people who run marathons and need to know about good nutritious meals to keep them energized and healthy. I always admire the dedication of those who run marathons. I can barely run to the corner.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      I'm sure, like every aspect that allows a human being to push their body to this pinnacle, the diet of a marathon runner is very integral.

      Fascinating article.

    • lyoness913 profile image

      Summer LeBlanc 2 years ago from H-Town

      I am so impressed with people who run marathons- the absolute dedication and hard work, and determination- with the food as well as the working out is amazing. Good for you, thanks for sharing!



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