I’ve adopted this carbo-loading plan from the University of Western Australia after reading about it in a book by Matt Fitzgerald, whom I consider to be extremely knowledgeable in nutrition and training principles. One of the reasons I love this plan is that it only lasts 24 hours, giving you all the fuel you need for a marathon without all the stress and side effects that go with carbo-loading.
Essentially, I eat normal up until 2 nights before the marathon. Then, I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Here’s what the routine looks like starting 24 hours before the marathon start:
- Perform a workout of approximately 2 miles. Most of it will be easy running, except for the last 3 minutes. After running easy, speed up to mile pace for 2 1/2 minutes, followed by a 30-second sprint.
- Post workout: Drink 2 servings of Endurox R4
- Breakfast: Oatmeal, orange juice
- Mid-morning: Banana, Ensure
- Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, garden salad, apple juice
- Mid-afternoon: Apple, Ensure
- Pre-dinner snack: A serving of Endurox R4
- Dinner: Pasta (spaghetti with tomato-based sauce and vegetables), apple juice
- Evening snack: Power Bar, Ensure
- Race morning (at least two hours before race time): 2 bananas, 2 servings of Endurox R4
You can make some substitutions, of course. On the road, I’ve switched out a healthy turkey breast sandwich for the PB+J sandwich. And you can opt for a bagel instead of one of the bananas on race morning. It is highly suggested to avoid white sauces for your pasta, at least from what I’ve read.
One of the best parts of the routine is that it doesn’t leave you feeling stuffed, and mentally I know that I’m getting the nutrients and carbs I need for the race. Of course, as runners know, there are a lot of things that factor into a good race but this plan really helps take any of the guesswork out of the fueling part of equation.