Race Fueling Tips For Distances From 5Ks To Marathons

2017 Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017 in New Orleans, TN. Photo by Sanford Meyers.

Many of us have pre-race rituals that we’ve got adopted for years, and we persist with them regardless of the climate, distance or location. While some rituals are nice (hydrating earlier than a race is all the time necessary, and fortunate socks can by no means be flawed!), some rituals must be adjusted in line with your race distance. Nutrition and hydration are two such rituals! Of course it is very important toe each beginning line nicely hydrated and with glycogen shops and blood glucose topped off, however how a lot and what you’ll want on race day will differ. Here are some easy-to-follow fueling tips from 5K to marathon.


Race-day breakfast must be high-carb, low-fiber and really straightforward to digest. Aim for about 200 energy of straightforward carbs 1–2 hours earlier than your race. Try 1 cup low-fiber cereal (assume Cheerios, Rice Krispies and the like) plus almond milk (many runners have hassle digesting cow’s milk pre-race) plus half a banana.

Hydrate with eight–12 ounces water 60–90 minutes earlier than the race begin.

Final gasoline for a 5K isn’t usually essential. However, should you race longer distances and need a last increase, take ½–1 gel or a couple of crackers 10 minutes earlier than the gun goes off.

During-race gasoline is usually pointless. You gained’t need to spend time visiting assist stations and can barely have the ability to sip in the event you attempt. When it’s actually scorching or humid, seize one cup of fluid 1–2 miles in as wanted. Your greatest guess is to hydrate earlier than you’re taking off!


Race-day breakfast will increase to 250–350 energy, eaten 2–three hours pre-race. Try 1–2 packets of prompt oatmeal (it may be flavored—you want the carbs for power to race) plus a selection of cow, soy or almond milk and one banana.

Hydrate with 12–16 ounces water 2–three hours earlier than begin time.

Final gasoline: Experiment with four–eight ounces sports activities drink 10 minutes earlier than the beginning.

During-race gasoline: If racing for greater than 60 minutes, eat 100 energy (of sports activities drink/gel) after 45 minutes. When it’s scorching or humid, drink four–6 ounces of fluid each 2 miles.

Half Marathon

Race-day breakfast will increase to 400–500 energy, and will now embrace protein because of the longer period of the race. Try half a bagel with peanut butter and jelly plus a banana 2–four hours previous to the beginning.

Hydrate with 12–16 ounces water or sports activities drink three–four hours pre-race. Note: It’s okay to omit the banana in the event you’re selecting a sports activities drink as a result of these carbs/energy rely too.

Final gasoline: 6–eight ounces sports activities drink, or one gel plus 6 ounces of water 10 minutes earlier than.

During-race gasoline: 30–60 grams of carbohydrate per hour after the primary hour. For instance, 1 gel or 16 ounces sports activities drink (four ounces each few miles) for a half marathon lower than 2 hours, or 1 gel plus 16 ounces sports activities drink for a 2:30 half. Total fluids ought to match sweat price, averaging 24–32 ounces per hour.

Full Marathon

Race-day breakfast ought to now be in two elements, totaling 600–700 energy and together with carbs and protein or fats. Four hours previous to the race, eat an entire bagel with both PB&J or two eggs. Then 1.5 hours prior, eat oatmeal or a granola/power bar.

Hydrate with 12–16 ounces fluid three–four hours prior, then one other 7–12 ounces 1.5 hours prior.

Final gasoline: Take one gel with four–eight ounces water or eight ounces of sports activities drink or about 100 energy of any fast-
appearing carbs.

During-race gasoline: Up to 60–90 grams of carbs per hour! Experiment throughout lengthy runs to seek out your “sweet spot” of fueling. Examples are four–6 ounces of sports activities drink each 2 miles plus gel with water each 40 minutes (four–5 miles). Try including 1–2 power chews each different mile as nicely.

Lauren Antonucci, M.S., R.D.N., is a board-certified sports activities dietitian and the proprietor/director of Nutrition Energy in NYC. She has fueled hundreds of marathoners and fueled herself to greater than 12 marathon finishes.


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