The Marathon Menu

A Runner's Guide to Optimal Fueling


Fueling your body for a marathon is as crucial as the training itself - understanding the individualized nature of nutrition and considering your preferences, fitness level, and age. Before undertaking a marathon, three essential components must be considered: carbohydrates, water, and electrolytes. The quantities of these components should be tailored to the intensity and duration of your run, taking into account individual stomach sensitivity. Let's dive into a comprehensive marathon menu to power your journey.


3 Days Before the Marathon

1. Carb-Loading Strategy: Marathon preparation starts well in advance. A week before the race, initiate carb-loading by increasing your carbohydrate intake. Aim for 6-10 grams of carbs per kilogram of weight. This helps to fill your glycogen stores, providing sustained energy during the race.

Discover a variety of carb-loading recipes below that are worth trying out!

Low Calorie Blueberry Muffin 

Apple Pie Energy Balls

2. Sodium-Loading Strategy: In Singapore's humid climate, individuals tend to experience increased perspiration, necessitating a focus on hydration and sodium intake. Sweat, a byproduct of this humid environment, not only consists of water but also vital electrolytes, notably sodium. Sodium plays a crucial role in preserving fluid balance, supporting nerve function, and facilitating muscle contraction. Hence, it becomes essential to replenish sodium levels to ward off dehydration, muscle cramps, and associated concerns. It is advisable to target an intake of 1,500mg of sodium prior to your run to address these specific hydration needs.

What You Need Before a Marathon: Key Components

  1. Carbohydrates: They serve as the body's primary and most efficient source of energy during exercise, making them a cornerstone of marathon nutrition. Understanding how to strategically incorporate carbs into your marathon fueling plan can significantly impact your performance.

    On the Early Hours of the Marathon, aim to consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour. This range is designed to meet the immediate energy demands of your muscles, ensuring a steady supply of glucose, the body's preferred fuel, to power your run.

    Incorporating gel packs into your nutrition strategy during physical activity can be a practical means of obtaining additional carbohydrates. Typically, an average gel pack contains approximately 20 grams of carbohydrates. These gel packs are designed for quick and convenient consumption, offering a concentrated source of energy in a portable form.

    As the marathon progresses and you surpass the initial three-hour mark, adjust your carbohydrate intake to a higher range of 60-90 grams per hour. This modification accounts for the prolonged nature of the race, where sustained energy becomes paramount to combat fatigue and prevent hitting the proverbial "wall."

  2. Water: Hydration is not merely a postscript; it is the lifeblood that sustains your body's intricate physiological processes, especially during the rigors of marathon running. Water serves as the conduit for nutrient transport, temperature regulation, and the lubrication of joints – all essential functions that directly impact your ability to navigate the course effectively.  Recommendations on how much water we should consume per hour when running vary from 300-800ml, however, adjust your water intake based on the outside temperature, your sweat rate, and thirst. Dehydration can lead to increased heart rate and premature fatigue.

  3. Electrolytes: In the intricate performance of marathon running, electrolytes take center stage as the silent conductors orchestrating fluid equilibrium. Recognizing their importance and integrating them thoughtfully into your hydration plan could hold the key to sustaining energy throughout the arduous journey. Maintain your fluid balance by incorporating essential minerals such as sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphate. Customize your electrolyte intake based on variables like run duration, external temperature, and individual sweat rate. For extended races, meeting sodium needs might require electrolyte consumption within the 250-300mg per hour range. Consuming 2 salt sticks or tablets would contribute to meeting this sodium target.

    Here are some handy electrolyte tablets you can mix on your bottle and sip on while you're running.

    Hydration Effervescent Tablets

Post-Run Recovery: Refuel and Rehydrate

When to Eat After a Run

Refuel within the first 30-45 minutes, especially after a run or intense workout. Follow up with a balanced meal within the next 2-3 hours to optimize muscle recovery and glycogen replenishment.

An alternative method to restore your glycogen stores involves the consumption of a rapidly absorbed carbohydrate that elevates insulin levels. This can be achieved through the use of 1st Phorm Ignition Glycogen Replenishment Formula.

Foods to Avoid

For those with sensitive stomachs, limit or avoid gas-producing vegetables, high-fiber foods, and high-fat foods post-run.

Hydration is Key

Consume 500ml of fluid for every 500g of body weight lost during a workout. Ensure optimal hydration by performing a sweat test – weighing yourself before and after a run.

A quick run-through on the Marathon Fueling Tips:

  • Initiate carb-loading a week before the race.
  • Consume 30-60g of carbs per hour in the early marathon hours.
  • Adjust to 60-90g per hour after the initial three hours for sustained energy.
  • The recommended hydration on the marathon vary (300-800ml per hour), but adjust based on external factors.
  • Consider temperature, sweat rate, and thirst to avoid dehydration.
  • Customize electrolytes intake based on run duration, temperature, and sweat rate.
  • Refuel within 30-45 minutes after runs over 60 minutes.
  • Follow up with a balanced meal in the next 2-3 hours for muscle recovery.
  • Avoid gas-producing vegetables, high-fiber, and high-fat foods for those with sensitive stomachs.
  • Hydrate with 500ml of fluid for every 500g of body weight lost during the marathon.

Remember, it is important to fuel up. By strategically planning your marathon menu, you'll set yourself up for success on the road to victory. Run strong, eat wisely, and conquer the marathon!

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