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Healthy Breakfast


By: Allison Backer

Those sweaty training sessions preparing for the Spring marathon season are underway. Fueling your body properly is crucial. Eating well is an important component of training that is often overlooked. A nutritious diet will help ensure you get to the start line healthy and ready to roll. You have already researched everything from training plans, to course logistics, to the best sweat wicking clothing on the market. So, why not further expand your knowledge? Learn how to fuel properly before, during and after the race! In the weeks leading up to the main event, focus on these guidelines to energize your daily intake:

  • Eat a variety of colorful fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Enjoy dairy products for bone building calcium and phosphorus.

  • When possible opt for 100% whole grain carbohydrates. Limit those made with refined white flour.

  • Chose leaner cuts of meat, skinless poultry, and incorporate heart healthy fish into your diet.

  • Hydrate with water. Doctor it up by adding or squeezing fresh fruit into it. Avoid sugary beverages and sodas.

  • Add beans, legumes, and nuts into your meal plan.

  • Monitor alcohol consumption.

Race Week

Do not try eating anything new a few days leading up to the race.


Avoid sampling uncharted foods and beverages at the packet pick-up. Better safe than sorry.


Watch your fat and fiber intake to avoid any gastrointestinal disturbances. Make sure you boost your carbohydrate and fluid intake and keep your protein consumption moderate.


At this time, it is okay to select foods from refined carbohydrate sources (i.e. bagels, pretzels, pasta). 


Bring with you any sports drinks, gels, bars, your favorite non-perishable foods/snacks, etc. that you plan on consuming. While away from home, you are never quite certain if you will be able to purchase your tried and true products!


Search the web for local dining and review menus prior to getting into town. Make a reservation in advance and request an early seating.


Keep your dinner meal the night before the race rich in carbohydrates and protein. 


Try it: white pasta in marinara sauce topped with grilled chicken or salmon.

Race Day



Eat your pre-race meal approximately 2 hours before go time.


Sip on water and/or take sips of a sports beverage before the start.


Drinking too much or too little during the event may pose race day problems. Current research suggests “drinking to thirst” for optimal hydration.


After being out on the course for over an hour, begin to replenish your energy intake. Time to use your gels, chews, jellybeans, or sports beverage of choice.

Post Race

You have successfully made it to the end of your journey. Post-race celebration time is here! It is very important to adequately refuel after tackling your marathon.


At the end, please take a water bottle and/or a sports beverage, banana, juice or bagel.


Consume a hearty meal within 1 1/2 to 2 hours of finishing the race.

There are multiple factors to consider when estimating an individual’s nutrition needs in order to complete an event (i.e. body weight, sweat rate, race pace, and weather conditions). However, these simple strategies will serve as a great guideline. Hard work starts in the off-season. Don’t neglect the fourth discipline – nutrition. I wish everyone the best this season!

Check out Allison's Recipes for "Go the Distance" energy balls here and eggs and bean power protein scramble here

About The Author

Allison Backer is a Registered Dietitian, who has worked over the past 13 years in various clinical settings. She is trained in nutrition counseling for chronic diseases as well as weight management. She has also worked as a freelance writer for Oxygen fitness magazine. Allison resides on Long Island, New York. She enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter and dog. She is an avid fitness enthusiast and trains for endurance competitions, including marathons and triathlons. Check out her website here

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