The Boston Marathon, also known as Marathon Monday, is one week from today! I know I should never say never, but the likelihood of me running that marathon, or any marathon for that matter, is never. However, when I lived in NYC I was fortunate enough to be a frequent visiter (whoop whoop long distance relationship) to Boston so got to experience a few Marathon Monday’s partying (something I am much better at than running distance) and cheering on the amazing runners. The excitement of Boston on that day is something everyone should experience at least once, as a runner or spectator.
Anyways! Whether you are a future marathoner or a current one and wonder what other marathoners eat/drink the week before and during the marathon, I reached out to two of my BADASS girlfriends for help. Both are running Boston next Monday, are marathon professionals (that should be a thing once you’ve run more than 5), and nutrition gurus. Cara is a Registered Dietitian in Boston and Alyssa is a Dietetic Student at the University of Central Arkansas. If I were to ever run a marathon, these would be the two I would trust over about anyone (there’s always Shalane) for nutrition advice for those longggggggg 26.2 miles.
Cara Schrager MPH, RD, CDE
Marathons run to date: 6 (3 of these Boston!)
Marathon PR: 3:22:59 (hoping for a new one next week!)
Nutrition Plan: “I like to focus on hydrating early by making sure I’m getting enough water throughout the week leading up to the race. This week is also all about building up those glycogen stores by “carboloading.” Rather than eat a lot of carbs the day before, it’s important to gradually build up throughout the week. I make sure I’m eating a certain amount with meals and then aim to add a few more healthy carbohydrate snacks (fruit, granola) in as well. It’s not too different from my typical diet during training. The main difference is that because we’re tapering, we’re preserving more glycogen so it’s not so necessary to add too many more carbs. 2 days before the race I’ll eat my larger pasta dinner (with lean protein like chicken or fish and vegetables). The next day consists of bagels, bananas and probably some more pasta. I find that these rather simple carbs work best for me the day before (and day of) a race. The day before I also will make sure I’m drinking a lot of water and perhaps some electrolyte mix like SOS. Morning of the race I stick to my usual pre-race meal which is a bagel with pb and a banana. I’ll probably drink coffee and a mix of water and gatorade as well. There’s a lot of waiting before you approach the start so I make sure to space everything out and try not to eat or drink too much to the point where I’ll feel heavy. I fuel with a gu about every 5 miles during the race and then depending how I’m feeling maybe another at mile 22/23. I make sure to drink at every water stop and typically alternate between water and Gatorade.”
Alyssa Frisby Dietetic Student, Nuun Ambassador
Marathons run to date: 7
Marathon PR: 3:20:33
Nutrition Plan: “I approach race week nutrition the same way I approach the taper period of marathon training: there’s not a lot you can do in a week to improve your race day performance, but you can definitely hurt it! My firm rules about food during race week are don’t try anything new, and don’t overindulge. I’m still just as hungry during the week of the marathon as I am during peak weeks of training, so I eat small meals throughout the day and have filling snacks on hand. To increase my carbohydrate intake, I start replacing lunchtime salads with protein and veggie packed sandwiches, and include more rice or potatoes at dinnertime.
A week out from the marathon, I start really paying attention to how much water I’m drinking. Every morning, I drink a glass of water with an electrolyte tablet, and during race week I usually drink another one in the evening. I carry a 32 oz bottle of water with me all day, and I refill it a few times a day. I also still drink beer and wine if I want to! My favorite marathon was the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis, and I had pizza and two glasses of wine the night before the race.
During the race, I typically mix a serving of Nuun (blueberry strawberry kind) in a handheld water bottle and sip on that throughout the race, and eat a Gu gel every 6 miles.”
All I can say is, why don’t I look as good as these two in my race photos when I am running a quarter of the distance?!?! Am I right?! For anyone who has questions about their nutrition during running or other types of exercise, reach out to me or a RD in your neck of the woods. Nutrition can make or break your race!
Good luck to everyone running Boston next week!
Eat like you want to live forever,