10 Things You Must Eat Before The Marathon Or the Sky Will Fall! That, or my own Pre-Race Diet…

I have two marathons coming up. That is really hard on my body so I try to treat it kindly with proper nutrition and rest. Figuring out my fueling has helped a lot with race training and recovery.

monica running rock n roll san diego marathon

I get a lot of questions like, “What should I eat before my marathon?”  and just this week got this question via Instagram:

image what to eat during marathon training

What I Eat The Week Before A Marathon:

1. Bananas!!! “One banana a day keeps the cramps away.” – Monican

I used to get cramps pretty bad and so I make sure to get potassium via bananas and coconut water before long runs and races.

lots of bananas marathon week (600x800)

“The body’s muscles require a balance of potassium, magnesium and other minerals to perform efficiently. When the minerals are out of balance, the muscles can react during strenuous activities such as running by cramping. The potassium found in bananas helps keep the balance to inhibit cramps.” – Via Livestrong

2. Coconut Water. I try to stay hydrated through the week and sip some coconut water for the electrolytes.

what to drink before a marathon

I also have read the coconut water was used as blood plasma back a hundreds of years ago in times of war when plasma wasn’t available. I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but that is pretty cool and makes me think it’s magical. sipping fresh coconut water

coconut water russel brand tweet

3. Nuun. I also drink Nuun the day before a race for an extra hydration boost.

nuun all day long (800x800)

4. Rice rice baby. Rice is MY carb of choice and I stock up before a race. <- You need to carb-load with the carb that is good to you. Don’t try anything new before the race.

rice before a marathon

5. Watermelon.  The amino acid in watermelon can help reduce muscle soreness. It’s science. Plus, it’s my favorite food. watermelon for me (727x545)

a love letter to watermelon and runnning

6. Salt. I am a very salty sweater so I make sure to load up on the stuff leading up to a race (especially a in hot temperatures, which both these marathons will be!!).

7-10. The usual. Outside of making sure I am eating ‘enough’ carbs and staying hydrated – I try to keep the rest of my diet the same. You don’t want your body to think “Crap. Something must be up!! My person keeps feeding me different stuff?!”

This is hard if you’re traveling for a race, but aim to keep your diet as close to routine as possible.

I’d list my usual diet here, but no one really cares…

people dont care about your diet

(Plus it’s just eggs, tequila, cereal and chocolate. Not in that order.)

Runner’s Resources: Here are some articles that tell you how to carb load and how many carbs you should be eating before a marathon or half marathon.

I’ve heard 70-80% of your diet should come from carbs in the days leading up to a marathon. The RW article below says 85% or higher!

Runner’s World suggests 600 grams of carbs

Carb-loading tips for endurance athletes via Active

Remember the #1 Rule of racing is:

NEVER try anything new on race day.

So, keep doing what works for your body. This is just my marathon eating plan since RER is my blog and I like to blab about myself. You do you and you’ll get it done!

Let the carb-loading commence!

eating bunny cake

Question: What’s your favorite carb today?


  1. Denise says

    I will take potatoes all day long, anyway I can eat them. Thanks for all your helpful information…you keep me laughing with your blog. I can’t quite get past 3 miles yet. Trying

  2. says

    For 2-3 days before a long race, each morning I mix Coconut Water, Watermelon, Strawberries, a banana and vanilla greek yogurt in the blender with a cup of ice. It is the best smoothie ever and it keeps me properly hydrated!

  3. says

    I’m making the horrible mistake of reading blog posts about food and I missed lunch and am stuck on a train for another hour. Bad idea.

    Before halfs, I tend to do normal diet, heavier protein for the first few days of the week leading up to it, then switch to slightly heavier than normal carbs. I almost wish I was racing this weekend so I could eat all the carbs.

  4. Steph F. says

    I’m obsessed with the raisin Ezekial bread….top with some peanut butter and banana or apple and I am a well fueled girl! A word to the wise…I tried the Runner’s World 85% carb rule before my first marathon last fall, and it was an epic fail. My stomach revolted, I developed some severe GI distress, and lost about 3 lbs. in the couple days leading up to the marathon. During the race I was a dehydrated, nauseous mess…no fun. If you think that carb loading this way is for you, then be smarter than I was and try it out before some of your long runs and not race week!

  5. says

    Today it’s crackers with PB (of course!).
    During the week leading to a race, I try to eat well, healthily and cut out junk food.

  6. says

    Porridge and Rice are pretty consistent in my diet (not together – im not that wierd).

    The night before races I always have chicken in black bean sauce with boiled rice – always seems to work well…

    Morning of a race I have a peanut butter bagel with a banana.

    I have always wondered about coconut water. Think I will try some now 😀

  7. says

    Another great post. I think you got all the important ones down, and highlighted the most important one of all! I am interested to learn your carb of choice is rice. I used to eat rice before all my races when I was younger. Before my marathon I stuck to plain pasta the night before to be safe. I did not know about watermelon though, you really have thought through everything! Impressive :)

  8. says

    My favorite carb-loading meal will always be pasta :-) Banana/peanut butter or 1/2 bagel and peanut butter are my day of race meals. I’ve been wanting to try NUUN!

  9. Tara says

    PIZZA the night before a race,(and well, lets be honest, pizza after the race too!) yes! And toast w/pb and a banana the morning of my race.

  10. says

    I love a big bowl of oatmeal, with almond butter mixed in, and dried fruit or jam. There’s just something about it that makes me feel comfy, plus it really seems to v hero my energy!

  11. says

    My favorites before any race are bananas, pesto cavatappi from Noodles and Company, and Chipotle. Seriously. I’m not kidding. I love these two restaurants going into a race. haha!

  12. The Silent Assassin says

    I bookmarked this post. I’ve done everything on this list except watermelon and coconut water. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Chamois says

    Since I’m allergic to wheat (yes, this is a thing and it doesn’t mean I’m going to die if I eat it—just means I’m going to get real itchy the next day—try explaining that to your family), my go-to pre-marathon carbo-load is chicken and white potatoes. LOVE potatoes. I remember the first thing I ate after my first marathon were kettle chips. I thought it was the best flavor in the whole world.

  14. says

    Interesting post, especially the water melon piece and aminos. I was a fitness trainer years back and my muscles took a battering doing cardio classes. I used amino supplements to speed up the recovery and ease the DOMS. I find your usual regular runner isn’t in to supplements too much but they have been a life saver for me after the weekend running Reading UK half marathon. I also use amino supplements to help after the serious hill training sessions. I didn’t realise water melon was a good source of aminos. Thanks for the tip! Run strong. Mike. p.s. Don’t be too harsh about my blog… It’s only been going five weeks.

  15. MartinaNYC says

    Sushi is usually my pre-race dinner. Soy sauce for the salt, protein from the fish, carbs from the rice. And it’s really easy to digest (given you don’t go to an all you can eat sushi place)!

  16. Olivia says

    I have tried NUUN but didn’t like the flavor. Which flavor is your favorite? Maybe I should try one more packet to see if the flavor changes.

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