Marathon Nutrition.

water and oj

Saturday’s long run fuel: crystallized ginger, dried apricots, orange juice, and water.

A few weeks ago at my marathon training class we had two physical therapists talk about heart rate training, encouraging us to get a heart rate monitor and/or pay attention to our heart rate during training through other methods, like Borg’s scale of perceived exertion. They also encouraged us to go see a nutritionist because eating is such an essential part of training. You need a lot of fuel to do all those miles.

I have yet to do anything with heart rate training, but I did make an appointment to see the nutritionist. I’m never sure what I should be eating when I train? I just know that I eat more than normal. Before our session, I sent her my training schedule, previous race times, and three days of food journaling. I got a wealth of information from our hour-long meeting. I thought I might get a lecture on sugar consumption, but instead I discovered that I am low on carbohydrates{very surprised!}.

I was actually quite shocked. I eat bread, pasta, baked goods, rice, etc. I’m not limiting carbohydrates in any way, but I didn’t realize how much I needed per day. I’ve never kept track of carbohydrate consumption. Here it’s best if your diet is comprised of 60 percent carbohydrate if you are training for a marathon. So, if I need 2,200 calories per day, that translates to about 357 grams of carbohydrates. I was taking in more calories than I needed, but about 100 grams less of carbohydrates. Elite athletes require even more. Not that I’m Lance Armstrong – faaaaaar from it – but Runner’s World also touches on the importance of carbs.

I don’t count calories – too tedious! – so she built me a plan and/or wants me to aim for:

  • 11 starches
  • 2 fruits
  • 3-5 veggies
  • 4 fats
  • 7 proteins
  • 2 dairy/soy
  • 200 calories of fun food {beer, wine, sweet treat, chocolate, etc}

She also wants me to eat a large breakfast, larger lunch, and smaller dinner. I had been eating a small breakfast, small lunch, large dinner, dessert, and lots of snacking. It wasn’t leaving me with much energy during the day. My snacks are geared more toward when I exercise during the day.

My new breakfast: one cup oats, quarter cup of nuts {pecans}, half a banana, two teaspoons flax seeds, 6 oz. Greek yogurt. It is a very filling breakfast.{Just discovered it’s better if I grind the flax seeds.}


I’m trying to fill my lunches with more whole grains. At my recent grocery store jaunt, I bought Food Should Taste Good multigrain chips. They have flax, sunflower, sesame seed, quinoa, soy, and brown rice in them. Love! {Their website also has a coupon!}


I’ve been trying to eat more carbohydrates – wheat bread, brown rice, grains – with dinner.

croque madame

and lastly, salmon! She recommended that I eat fish about three times per week.


I definitely have more energy during the day. I still want to try out recipes for new grains like farro and homemade sports drinks. I’m also experimenting with dried fruit instead of GU on long runs. My nutritionist loves crystallized ginger.

Marathon Nutrition

Now that I am eating so much more during the day, I don’t crave as much sugar. Although, the nutritionist could see that I like my chocolate chips and cookies – everyday – so she built them into my plan. I learned that it is best to eat my baked goods immediately after finishing a run, preferably within the first hour, or as a treat once a day. Go cookies!

About Sarah

Always thinking about my next meal.
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5 Responses to Marathon Nutrition.

  1. Rae says:

    I absolutely love that you took her suggestions and ran with them – and your meals look beautiful! I definitely hope my clients walk away with such zeal to change their diet and look at the changes as beneficial and worth while. Hooray for seeing a dietitian!

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Rae! It was super helpful. I would never have guessed I needed more carbs.

      P.S. It seems like such a fun and rewarding job as well! Lucky you:)

  2. Pingback: PROJECT 365: Week of March 26 « daily nibbles

  3. Thanks for sharing your suggestions. I am training for my first marathon and struggling in the nutrition department as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was eating too many calories and not enough carbs. I will have to look into it!

  4. Stephanie says:

    I am looking to do a marathon next year, my first. Thanks for posting about eating more. I eat a lot of the things that you mentioned here, but have been wondering if I am eating enough and I don’t know what to eat while running. At about mile 10 I feel so tired, so I need more fuel. Thanks for the info.

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