Eating to Marathon

September 29, 2015

Getting Fit to Run


For many Chicagoans, Fall means the Chicago Marathon is right around the corner! Weather you are in the final weeks of your training plan for the marathon or exercising regularly, eating right can help you perform at your best.  Many people who regularly exercise, feel that since they’re burning the calories they can eat whatever they want. However, a focus on nutrient dense over calorie dense foods for any individual is always recommended.


The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that Athletes consume about 60% of their calories from carbohydrate, 20% from protein and 20% from fat. Despite many of the recent stories about low carb diets for athletes, most of the research for endurance performance still supports carbohydrate based diets. Using applications like MyFitness Pal are excellent for understanding where your calories are coming from.


When consumed in the right amounts, our bodies store the carbohydrates that we eat as glycogen (energy for exercise) in the liver and muscles. Marathon runners also rely on fat during exercise because it is a high-energy molecule that is able to be used at lower intensities. These two molecules primarily support the long-distance run.


It has been found that the three days prior to a long distance run are the most crucial for nutrition. The recommendation is about 7-8 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight (2.2 pounds) per day for the three days prior to the long run. Keep in mind, additional sources of carbohydrate include, but are not limited to sweet potatoes, oatmeal, rice and squash. Including lean protein and small amounts of good fats at every meal is also crucial to performance. Additional water consumption can also benefit during the days before the run (about 7-8 liters per day).


Be sure to test out your nutrition plan for the morning of the race on your training runs so that you don’t run into any side effects. Consuming a meal about 2-3 hours before your race will help ensure you top off your energy stores and that it’s properly digested. After 60 minutes of sustained exercise, consuming about 30-60 grams of carbohydrate is recommended (electrolytes, too). My personal favorite are the Vega Sports Gu’s because the first ingredient is Dates J Other snacks include Gatorade, Bananas, Gus, or Homemade Energy Bars.


And keep in mind – Rest Day nutrition is equally as important as Race Day nutrition. Need more help or a personalized plan contact Kerry and OWN CHICAGO!



Kerry will be running the Twin Cities Marathon in October, follow her progress on Twitter @Clifford_Kerry and Instagram @dietitiankerry

The Author

Karen Bobos, MSed

Karen M. Bobos, MSed, has been in the fitness industry since 1996 and feels her highest accomplishments are those results achieved by her clients through her guidance. She educates clients that there is no trick to being healthy, no magic pills, but rather optimal health is achieved through eating right and moving your body.

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