Race Day Breakfasts For Marathons and Half-Marathons
The food you eat as a runner is important at any time of day… but breakfast is crucial. Here’s what to eat to fuel a marathon or half-marathon.
Don’t forget fluids. More important than what you eat is what you drink, so don’t forget to get plenty of water and electrolytes in the hours before your marathon or half-marathon. Water helps carry nutrients from the food you eat in to your system, and also helps transport toxins away. And dehydration drastically affects performance (and recovery). Start getting hydrated at least two hours before you start running. If you’re travelling to the start line, make sure water and electrolytes are on hand at all times.
Practice your breakfast habits. Don’t leave your marathon or half-marathon race day breakfast plans to chance. Like every aspect of race day (kit, pacing, shoes), make sure you’ve trialed it beforehand. This goes for the meal you eat the night before, the breakfast and snacks you eat before the race, and even the timings of the meals.
The ideal breakfast? We can’t tell you exactly what to eat – you need to find out what works well for you – but here’s an example of a breakfast we might enjoy before a long run, a marathon or a half-marathon race:
Real porridge oats (not instant) with no added sugars – 50-75g
Nuts (cashews, brazils and almonds are good choices – avoid peanuts) – 20-30
Berries (fresh or frozen) – 100g or as much as you like
Protein powder (try whey, or if you prefer to avoid dairy, flavoured rice, hemp or pea protein) – 25-30
Coconut oil (the solid stuff which comes in a tub) – 10g or so (a decent teaspoonful)
Make the porridge up with water or full-fat milk, or non-dairy milk such as carton coconut milk if you prefer. If you use water, try adding some natural (unsweetened) yoghurt or Greek yoghurt once it’s cooked. After cooking, stir through the protein powder and berries (if using frozen berries, add these whilst cooking the porridge). Top with the nuts and coconut oil. The coconut oil will melt.
This breakfast gives you a fantastic mix of carbohydrates, protein and fats. Don’t worry about the fact that you’re eating nuts and coconut oil – the latter is an MCT (medium chain triglycerides) fat, and MCTs are easily converted by the body into fuel – a brilliant choice of fuel for runners. We’d eat this power breakfast at least an hour before running and drink plenty of water, too.