Marathon training meals suggestions
October 15, 2010 6:45 PM   Subscribe

Help me with my eating problems as I train for my marathon. Please share your advice for daily meals and snacks so I can male it to and through my race.

I began training for my first marathon back in late may. Spent the summer doing p90x, then transitioned to only running back at the start of august. So far so good. I ran my first 10k on labor day, and did well. The training isnt fancy - it's just run three days a week (with the second typically the longer day of the three) and then an increasingly long run on Saturday. I ran 14.5 miles last Saturday and run 16 tomorrow. I run a half marathon in about ten days and my official marathon is dec 4 in Memphis.

Everything as I said has been going fine. But a few things are worrying me. First I have lost 20-25 pounds since august. I was at 185 and now weigh between 160-165 on any given day. The speed with which I dropped worries me.

Secondly, I like I am not eating consistently the kind of high carb diet I need. I have read that I need to have approximately 2100 net calories consumed daily for my weight, which I do not always achieve and some days have had negative calories. I do not always take in the 50% carbs, 25% protein and the rest fat either.

Part of what I need is jus some basic simple options laid out in plain English to help me plan the rest of my days. Things like "Monday: breakfast eat two bananas and xyz, 10:00am eat abc" and so on. Most of what I read is not programmatic in other words but just generally suggested patterns to achieve the daily nutrition goals, and I tend to get overwhelmed by the options.

FYI food has my entire life been a difficult thing. Either pigging out on chips and junk food or literally going a day without eating. So what I know is that this is my own nutritional incompetency coming to haunt me but I was wondering if anyone could share with me their suggested daily eating habits (being a bit specific if possible) when training for a marathon especially in light of the roughly 7 weeks I have left.
posted by scunning to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Have you got some cash? You could spend $100, $125 and have a professional, registered dietitian/nutritionist specializing in sports nutrition write you up exactly what to eat for the next 7 weeks.
posted by facetious at 7:24 PM on October 15, 2010

You may be over thinking this a little bit too much- there's no perfect diet for marathoners, and it sounds a little like you are striving to hit daily goals with calorie and carbohydrate replenishment when you could be thinking more in terms of an overall healthy diet.

Years ago when I was running competitively my coach dragged me to a sports nutritionist in Boston who works with elite athletes because he was afraid my vegetarian diet supplemented with a whole bunch of junk food might be hampering my workouts. To his chagrin, she pretty much told me, after analyzing my diet, that there was no reason avoiding meat would be holding me back, and my pastry and chocolate tooth probably meant I wasn't obsessing about what I ate (also a plus).

Her name is Nancy Clark and she has a couple of books on nutrition for runners, and I think a few of them do have suggested sample menus with recipes. A link to her site is here. Good luck and have fun!
posted by stagewhisper at 8:29 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Don't worry about it unless you start to run slower.
posted by OmieWise at 9:46 PM on October 15, 2010

Yeah... just to second what OmieWise and stagewhisper say, don't overthink it. (They're both super experienced runners.) If what you're doing seems to be working for you, don't stress... if it stops working, don't be afraid to experiment a bit to find what does. The most important thing, though, is to enjoy this whole experience.
posted by ph00dz at 10:27 PM on October 15, 2010

Best answer: I agree with all of the above, but thought I would give you some sample meal ideas since that's sort of what you asked for. It's not a full day's schedule, but you can mix and match based on what sounds good.

Whole wheat bagel with PB and sliced banana, or top it with some light cream cheese, sliced onion, and smoked salmon
Oatmeal cooked with a few egg whites thrown in (add them toward the end of cooking, stir frequently to avoid scrambled eggs), top with honey and fresh fruit
Lowfat greek yogurt or cottage cheese topped with sliced fruit, chopped nuts, smidge of granola
Pancakes or waffles made with multigrain mix, top with yogurt, jam, nuts or fruit

Hummus and pita or whole-wheat crackers
I love the "banana taco": cut a banana in half, smear with almond butter or PB, top with dried fruit or chocolate chips
Hard-boiled eggs, sometimes I fill the whites with hummus instead of eating the yolks
Granola bars (but mind the really sugary ones)

Tuna salad or chicken salad, on top of veggies or on whole-wheat bread
Grilled chicken or fish, smaller side of pasta, roasted veggies
Baked potato (or sweet potato) with chili
Homemade pizza made with wheat dough, topped with lots of veggies

I don't have a problem hitting my carbs because I eat lots of fruit and also love me some cookies, so I tend to struggle more with fitting enough protein into my life. But I think if you're eating fruit and whole grains consistently throughout the day you'll get enough carbs in your life.

Different diets work for different people. For years I carbo-loaded the night before a marathon because that's what I'd been told, but I've found that eating more fat the night before (like pizza) is actually my best bet. I know this won't work for other people--the key is to figure out what works for your body. Use your long training runs as simulated marathons to figure out what best to eat the day before and during the race.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 11:26 PM on October 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Awesome. - thank you everyone. Thanks both for the menu, which was what I was hoping to get, and for telling me I may be overthinking it. I'm enjoying this but the nagging feeling I have been making egregious mistakes with food was really something I couldn't shake out of my head so I appreciate getting that different perspective.
posted by scunning at 10:51 AM on October 16, 2010

I just did my first marathon a little over a week ago. I agree with some others that you don't really have to worry too much about eating the right amount unless your runs feel really bad. I think the energy needs are possibly exaggerated, to be honest. Most days when I was training, (3 runs a week, weightlifting 1 a week and 2 other cross-training workouts, plus riding 20 minutes to and from work on my bicycle), I just ate my normal maintenance diet (around 2000 calories, trying to get around 30% of my calories from protien, and limiting alcohol to 3 or 4 drinks a week maximum). I went from 180 lbs to 170 but lost 4 dress sizes. I think as long as you're still a healthy weight and feel good, you don't need to worry about it too much.

Just make sure to eat at the right time (about a half hour before your long runs) and to have something that works well for hydration/electrolytes during your longer runs. (I liked to have a double water bottle system: one bottle contained water and the other had e-Load powder disolved in water, but even apple juice and salt dissolved in some water will do the trick.)

Aside from that, as I suffer from some cramping, I made sure to have a banana or an avocado a little bit after my long runs (anything 20K plus) to make sure I could replenish my potassium (I've heard this helps with cramping - I still got some though).

Good luck in your race!
posted by Kurichina at 2:35 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

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