Marathon prep: Nutrition - Women's Running UK

Final week marathon nutrition

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  April 13, 2016


The week before your marathon, it’s important to tailor your diet to ensure you reach the start line well energized, hydrated and in your best possible shape. Charlotte Kennedy, sports nutritionist at Etixx, shares her top five nutritional strategies to follow the week before your marathon.

1. Boost carbohydrate intake

Everyone knows the importance of carbohydrates for energy and therefore, in the week before your marathon, you will want to increase your carbohydrate intake to ensure you maximise your fuel stores. However, do be careful about the term ‘carbo-loading’ as it’s definitely possible to eat too much! There is only so much carbohydrate that your body can store, and therefore eating too much will leave you feeling bloated, heavy and sluggish  – the opposite of what you want for race morning. Instead of piling down as much carbohydrate as you can, simply try to eat about 10-15% more carbohydrate than you are used to. On the day before the marathon, eat a portion of carbohydrate with every meal alongside some carbohydrate-based snacks, such as an Etixx Energy Bar. This contains around 30g of carbohydrate and is easy to eat to boost fuel stores. If you’re someone that struggles to eat enough carbohydrate, try a product such as the Etixx Energy Load the evening before your run. This contains 66g of carbohydrate when mixed with 500ml of water, and therefore is an easy way to increase carbohydrate intake! This can also be drunk warm as a great pre-bed drink.

2. Minimise fibre intake

Another thing you might want to consider is fibre intake. In the few days before the marathon, consider limiting fibre intake as it may interfere with digestion and cause stomach issues on race day. At this point, it may be best to opt for refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta, as these have less fibre than their whole grain alternatives.

3. Hydrate

In the week before your event, make an effort to remain properly hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the preparatory week and try not to let yourself get too thirsty. Carry a bottle around with you wherever you go and make a conscious effort to take frequent sips. If you struggle to remember to drink a lot, try buying yourself a new bottle to carry around – anything that might remind you to drink. The last thing you will want is to start race day dehydrated! Avoid alcohol completely in the week before the marathon and save it for the celebratory drink at the end! It will be thoroughly deserved.

4. Maintain protein intake

It is important to ensure you are eating enough protein to help your muscles grow and repair. This should leave your muscles in the best possible state come marathon morning! Aim for a portion of high-quality protein with every meal. Some good examples include chicken, turkey, eggs, quinoa and salmon.

5. Don’t try anything new!

The night before the marathon, don’t try anything new. Have a plain dinner; one that you eat frequently and doesn’t cause you any stomach issues. Don’t eat anything too rich and don’t overindulge in processed foods or those high in fat and salt. Get all your kit out the night before and try to get a really early night! Race day will be just around the corner.

Charlotte Kennedy is a sports nutritionist at Etixx. For more information on Etixx sports nutrition, please visit:

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NMA’s 2020 Lifestyle Magazine of the Year, Women’s Running provides expert advice on gear and training, motivation from your favourite runners and the latest running news.

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