Ask A Marathon Mommy: Eating on the Run

Check out this tips for marathon!

Eating on the Run

It’s been 8 days since my 26 mile training run, and I feel like I am just about fully recovered. The first 48 hours after the run were difficult. I was stiff, achy, dehydrated, and exhausted. I attempted my first run on Wednesday, and it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. I ran two miles at a very easy, slow pace, and I still had a good bit of pain in my right knee. So I decided to give my body a bit more time to rest and recover. I am afraid that I will lose my conditioning if I spend too much time without running, but I’m also very concerned that I will do more serious damage to my knee if I run on it too soon. I’m going to attempt an easy run/walk today, so I suppose we shall see.

Now, as promised, I want to give you a bit of information about the proper nutrition for a marathon runner. You may recall that a couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I’d been having some difficulty maintaining good eating habits and that it had been significantly affecting my mood and energy level. I’m happy to tell you that some minor adjustments have helped a great deal! The biggest change is that I’ve begun eating breakfast (or drinking a protein supplement) first thing in the morning. I’ve increased my protein and decreased my carbs, particularly the unhealthy, junky kind. And I’m trying to drink more water. My mood has improved, I have more energy, and I’m feeling better overall.

As I’ve discovered firsthand, proper nutrition is an essential part of marathon training. Here’s a brief description of the basics:

  • Carbohydrates: Good carbs should make up about 65% of your diet during marathon training. Try this great caloric needs calculator to determine how much this is for you. Some examples of good, healthy carbohydrates are whole grain pasta, steamed or boiled rice, potatoes, fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole grain breads.
  • Protein: About 10-15% of your diet should come from protein. Long distance runners should consume .5 to .75 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy products, poultry, whole grains, and beans are all good proteins.
  • Fat: The remaining 20-25% of your total diet should come from fats. Try to stick to foods that are low in saturated fats and cholesterol, like nuts, oils, and certain kinds of fish.
  • Vitamins: Consider taking a multi-vitamin to ensure that all of your nutritional needs are being met. Your diet should also include plenty of calcium and iron. Consider supplementing your diet with additional vitamins if your diet is not adequate in these areas.

Also, avoid skipping meals, watch your caffeine intake, and drink plenty of water!

This is simplified version of a complex topic. Your nutritional needs are different based on your size, your running/training schedule, your weight loss goals (if any), etc. Do your own research! Start here:

Go search books on Nutrition Books for Marathon Runners!

And consider consulting with an experienced marathon runner, a nutritional expert, or even your doctor before beginning your marathon training. As I learned, if not tended to carefully, a long distance runner’s diet can get out of hand quickly. Take care of yourselves, friends!


Sharon is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a background in mental health, substance abuse, and child welfare.

“I tried my hand at being a work at home mom, but in 2009 I decided that being a stay at home mom is what works best for me and my family, at least for now. As my kids like to say, I’m “The Boss” of the family, which includes my husband of 9 years, two daughters (ages 4 and 6), and a giant goldfish named Princess Leia. My girls are beautiful and curious and wild and exhausting, and life is never, ever dull! I love reading, traveling, trying new restaurants, and shopping for bargains. I’m also training to run my first marathon in February 2013.”

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