The Virgin London Marathon 2015 is this weekend. This is my first time at the London Marathon, so I’m excited about the experience. I’m also keen to try to use the support of the crowds to go for a personal best and finish in just under 3 hours. Unsurprisingly, given the nature of this site, I’m keen to use nutrition to give me the best chance of achieving my goal.
A simple practical example
Personally, I find it helpful to see the details of other athlete’s plans and tactics. So, I hope that you’ll get something out of the details of my race day nutrition plans.
The race is due to start at 1010. I’ll be aiming to have breakfast 3-4 hours before the start. I want to balance not having to get up too early with eating early enough to have fully digested my breakfast. I’ll aim to eat something quick to prepare at around 0630.
Breakfast will be:
- 1 plain bagel with low fat spread and Marmite
- 1 homemade shake of 40g instant oat powder + 25g whey protein powder in water with calorie-free flavouring + 500 mg of guarana extract (contains 110mg caffeine)
- 1 banana
Nutrition totals: 670 calories, 110g carbs, 11g fat, 39g protein.
I like to have a caffeinated electrolyte drink about 30 minutes before the start of the race. This gives enough time for the caffeine to really kick in, but avoids the last minute rush for the portaloos.
After I’ve dropped my bag off, I’ll be carrying my last minute snacks / drink:
- 500ml High5 Zero X’treme Berry Flavour – contains 75mg caffeine
- 1 banana (this is more out of habit / superstition than for specific nutritional benefit)
Nutrition totals: 135 calories, 35g carbs, 1g fat, 2g protein
I’m going to use gels to provide additional carbohydrate, caffeine and electrolytes. I’ll take the first gel at 30 minutes and then a gel every 20 minutes after that. Gels at 50 minutes, 110 minutes and 150 minutes will contain caffeine. So, this should be a total of 8 gels in the 3 hours.
The caffeine free gels will be SiS Science in Sport GO Isotonic Gel Lemon & Lime flavour. I’ve used these extensively in training over many years, so I trust these products. I like the isotonic formulation for marathon races, because I won’t be carrying my own drink. The London Marathon provides Lucozade Sport as the energy drink and personally I’ve not got good results using that, so I’ll stick to water.
The caffeinated gels are GU Roctane Vanilla-Orange Flavour. These have several advantages. Firstly, they have high levels of electrolyte, which is good because I’m only drinking water and the SiS gels don’t have any added electrolytes. They contain 35mg of caffeine. They also have a maltodextrin and fructose mix, which should allow me to take the maximum amount of carbohydrate on board. Although it’s worth noting that in a marathon, that’s less of a concern than for longer events. They have some other features like added Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) that are intended to reduce mental fatigue, but I haven’t used Roctane in a long enough event or over a long enough period to have a personal view on the efficacy of this feature. The other thing that’s important is that GU gels are think. Really thick. I like this, because it adds variety. And, because they’re concentrated, they weigh less than the SiS gels, which offsets the small extra weight of using an isotonic gel.
Nutrition totals: 735 calories, 185g carbs, 0g fat, 0g protein
Immediate Post Race Nutrition
In my post-race bag, I’ll have a sachet of High5 Energy Source 4:1 Summer Fruits flavour to mix in 500ml of water. This will help replenish my energy levels and replace some electrolytes. I like the formulation and I’ve used High5 recovery drinks successfully before. I don’t want to try to keep a milkshake cool in my race bag.
I’ll also have a Chia Charge Banana Flavour Flapjack. This is mainly because I love them, so it’s a small incentive to think about while I’m running. They also have a good nutritional profile and the chia seeds should help my recovery.
Nutrition totals: 534 calories, 80g carbs, 17g fat, 14g protein
A Bit Further Post Race
I’m going to go out and have a “malted recovery beverage” or two (preferably a random real ale not a fizzy sugary lager) and something indulgent like a big fat burger, pizza or curry. Or maybe all three at various points during the day. Hey. I’ll have earned it!
I’m thinking of heading to Cask Pub & Kitchen for a juicy burger and some proper real ale. If you’re in the vicinity feel free to come and find me and say “Hi!”.
Nutrition totals: To be honest, I’m not counting at this point.
Obviously plans rarely always survive contact with the enemy, so this plan may change a bit during the event.
If you’ve got other ideas, experience or tips, I’d love to hear from you.
- What’s your favourite pre-race breakfast?
- Do you use caffeine in endurance events?
- Post-race celebratory meal: burger, pizza, curry, all three?