Pre-Marathon Nutrition (or Learning to Love Bread)

We’re not big bread lovers, and never really have been. When we think about nutrition in our home, it generally involves avoiding white carbs.  This is a controversial topic to say the least. Every second article you read is pushing one diet or another, avoiding cabs all together, only eating what that harvested under the second moon on the third Friday of the thirteenth month.  Our avoidance of carbs was never this strict but rather came more from helping to manage my diabetes. A lower intake of carbs meant tighter control over blood sugars. The side effects (healthy weight, general high energy levels) were a big bonus too.

This doesn’t mean we haven’t tried different ‘diet’, we have successfully maintained the slow carb diet a la Tim Ferris for months and felt great. But life doesn’t always fit into that sort of box and through experimentation and research, we’ve determined that our nutrition is better summed up with the words of Michael Pollan. ‘Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.’ Since nutrition is a key component of preparing long term, we’ll cover this in subsequent posts. But for now, all this goes out the window. In the days leading up to a marathon, your nutrition will change dramatically. And embracing my mortal enemy (aka Pasta) is a must.

We’re almost ready to start training for our Ottawa marathon but before we do we’ve got a half marathon to complete!  It may be the hypo half and who knows what weather will be like, but let’s still make sure we are doing everything we can to have the best race possible. One part of this is our nutrition leading up to Sunday.  I can tell you from today after properly eating yesterday that my run was much better having properly ‘carb loading’.   I’ve put together a few resources you guys can take look through, and a few tips cause I know we’re all busy.

Remember, it’s not JUST a half marathon, this is the longest distance many people will ever run, we’re just exceptional 🙂 Think of this as a practice run of carb loading for Ottawa.


EAT! The whole reason we carb load is to put off our wall (and in the case of a half marathon we may even be able to avoid it all together.)  I

Make a plan.  Don’t leave it to chance.  Pick up some good, low fat high carb snacks like pretzels, crackers, gatorage, swedish fish (yup dummies!).  These should be simple carbs that will be processed quickly and stored as glycogen.

Over the next few days, try and eat slightly lower carb levels than normal.  This will help to deplete any existing glycogen stores and help prepare your body for the influx of carbs.

On Wednesday, switch to eating complex carbs as much as possible (whole grain breads, whole wheat pasta). Your body still has time to break these down and store them.

Beginning on Thursday, you need to increase your carb intake dramatically.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be eating many more calories, but rather most of your calories will come from carbohydrates (80-90% of your calories).  The rule is about 4 grams of carb for pound of body weight. So if you’re 150 pounds, that’s 600 carbs a day from Thursday through Saturday.