5 Expert Marathon Training and Nutrition Tips

Fitness // 12WBT Staff

Thinking of running a marathon in the next 12 months? It’s a fantastic fitness goal, provided you know how to approach it properly.

12WBT’s running expert Greta Truscott, who recently ran the gruelling Berlin Marathon, shares her expert training tips.

1. Nutrition leading into the marathon

Distance runners tend to have a diet consisting of:

  • 70% cabs
  • 20%protein
  • 10% (or less) of fat

In the days before a marathon, you should be tapering your energy demands. If you are doing this, you will be able to obtain sufficient carbs from your usual diet without having to carb load.

The day before the Berlin Marathon, I ate very plain food:

  • Breakfast: Oats and a banana
  • Morning Tea: A banana
  • Lunch: Rice and fish
  • Dinner: Rice, tuna, corn and a tomato-based sauce

I chose food that was high in carbs and low in fibre, for lots of energy and a minimal chance of stomach upset, during the race. And, of course, I had plenty of water throughout the day.

Also read: The Best Pre-Workout Snacks

2. Training in the week before:

  • Sunday: Tapered 12km run
  • Monday: Easy 10 minute warm-up jog, 3 to 4km of marathon-pace running, 10 minute cool-down jog, then stretch and self massage
  • Tuesday: Short walk and light core exercises
  • Wednesday and Thursday: Easy 20 minute jog
  • Friday: Stretch and self massage
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Marathon race day

3. Race Day preparation

Race Day Breakfast: Oats with honey and low fat milk, a banana, a cup of tea and water.

Inside of one hour before the start time, I only sipped on water. I also made sure I went to the loo again as close to the start as possible, so I wouldn’t have to go during the race.

My husband and I stretched and sat down to conserve energy close to the start line. With the start fast approaching, I tried to keep my pacing plan in focus.

4. Strategy during the race

My main strategy, during the marathon was to focus on:

  • Technique
  • Breathing
  • Drinking a few sips of water at every station
  • Using energy gels at 10km, 20km, 28km, 35km
  • Keeping pace

5. Post-marathon recovery, elation and celebration

Soon after the finish, I had some high-carb, high-protein snacks of fruit, nuts, and a muesli bar.

After that, I enjoyed a soothing shower, self massage and a lie down before heading out for a late, hearty lunch. I even had one beer to celebrate. Be sure to hydrate with water first if you imbibe alcohol, and don’t go overboard with it, or it will hamper your recovery.

1-2 weeks following a marathon, rest up and take on some:

  • Easy swims
  • Gentle biking
  • Upper body and core work
  • Self massage
  • Stretching
  • Walking

Your legs need to recover from the huge impact of the marathon, so only do some very short (20 minute) runs if you feel up to it. About 6 days later, I did about 10 minutes of easy, soft sand running.