Fuelling Up For A Marathon With Max Willcocks!

As a trainer and more importantly as an endurance athlete I get asked by runners 'what's best to eat before a race?' This is a great question and I want to talk you through a great pre-race week routine to make sure that if there's one thing you don't have to worry about its your energy levels. Carb loading as a popular conception is about eating as much pasta the night before a race as possible-

PLEASE DON'T go down this route. Carb loads and carb manipulation is about altering the ratio of carbohydrates to protein that you put into your body an entire week before the race. Do not think that it's about eating loads of carbohydrate in one meal, your portion size shouldn't change dramatically, so don't heap loads of carbs onto your plate, eat regular sized meals as you normally would just change what goes on the plate. For the absolute best results on race day here's a fantastic routine that you can use and share with your running/endurance friends.

Sat/Sun Weekend BEFORE the race:

The Sat/Sun the week before the race alter your carbohydrate ratios so that the majority of food that you take in is carbohydrate based and limit your protein intake. At the point your training intensity should have dropped so you won't be inhibiting your recovery by limiting your protein. This weekend is about porridge in the morning, and good easily digestible carbohydrates throughout the day. Think cous cous and quinoa (16g of protein per 100g- the best grain you can eat). The majority of your meal should involve carbohydrates and then supplemented with your green veg. The best thing you can do is keep meals simple, quinoa and broccoli for instance. Sweet potato is another great source of carbohydrate.


For the next three days you're going to turn this concept on its head and alter your ratios to favour proteins. Think cottage cheese and eggs in the morning. Fish and lean meats at lunch and dinner. Put away the quinoa and cous cous for the next three days, make sure your plate is predominantly protein based. Again supplement the protein with green veg. Think broccoli, courgette, peas and beans.


Start reintroducing carbohydrates into your diet, small portions of the same carbs from the weekend in each meal. Slowly and gradually increase the amount of carbohydrate in each meal until on the Saturday before the race you're predominantly eating carbohydrates with small portions of protein. Do not eat massive meals of carbs the day before the race!!! You don't want a belly full of porridge; you want an efficient and well fuelled digestive system. Keep the meals regular sized and don't be greedy just make sure your ratios are correct and you're eating often not loads.

Morning of the race:

Races usually start reasonably early and at the London marathon you can be standing around for ages waiting to get going. The morning of the race I would suggest having a small bowl of porridge when you wake up and take an easily disposable tupper wear box that you can put some cous cous or quinoa in for you to pick at while you're waiting around. Don't eat huge amounts just have it there to keep nibbling at and stop eating 45 minutes before the scheduled start time. It's absolutely vital that you're well prepared and you'll really feel the difference if you make the effort.

DON'T FORGET NO COFFEE THE DAY BEFORE THE RACE AND DRINK PLENTY OF WATER!!! Please take the time to have a look at my page for more training tips & info:


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