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Diet planning for a marathon

Like all major sporting events, it requires the necessary sports and dietary planning to pass the test ‘without suffering’ more than it should.


The marathon is an endurance test of 42.195km. The average duration of this event ranges from 3: 30-4 hours, I feel the time for the first positions of 2:08:00 for men and 2:34:23 for women. Amateur runners usually have a pace of 4.5-5min / km.

Like the rest of endurance tests, the athlete’s body uses aerobic metabolism, through carbohydrates (CH) (such as glycogen in the muscle and liver) and intramuscular triglycerides. It has been observed that in the fastest runners, they use the HC as a priority, while the slower ones use the HC and fats as fuel, it all depends on where each athlete has their thresholds, aerobic (in this area exclusively fats are used) and anaerobic (from this, glucose is used primarily) .

Within the physical-physiological limiting factors of sports performance, it is worth mentioning the individual anaerobic threshold (UANI). Elite marathoners usually have their UANI at 85-90% VO2max, and this leads them to go to very high absolute intensities at rates of 3 minutes / km, when a person who has the UANI at 75% of VO2max, can go at a pace of 5minutes / km. When this threshold zone is exceeded, glucose utilization takes priority and muscle glycogen stores begin to be used up.

It has been observed that elite athletes may have to be in their UANI zone for 60-90 minutes, but amateurs (they can last between 30-45 ‘maximum), and at this point comes the decrease in the rhythm of race. In the marathon it is very common to observe this at km 30 (in amateu Maratón preparacion dietéticars, approximately 2 hours into the race), called by marathoners “the wall “, which coincides when the muscle glycogen stores.

For this, it will be essential to plan the intake of food and supplements, in order to provide carbohydrates, mineral salts and liquids to provide energy during the event, reduce possible risks of dehydration and depletion of muscular energy, in order to maintain the rhythm throughout the event. The material of the marathon runner such as running belt, belt carrier or modular , will help us to incorporate guarana shot, isotonic drink, multicarbo gel, etc.

As nutritional premises , we must drink at least 500ml of fluids / hour and maintain an intake of 40-60g of carbohydrates / hour. The use of an isotonic drink (isotonic drink to also provide mineral salts) is recommended. The shooting protocol that we could establish to face a marathon , based on an average time of 3:30 hours (5min / km), establishing it as follows:


Supplements to take / Comments

60-120 minutes prior to the test

500-800ml of Replacement Drink (Iso Drink)

Keep cool with ice cubes . Do not take more than 150-200ml intakes at a time. Take shots every 15-20 minutes, according to competition circumstances. Combine with the water intake

Transparent urinate before starting.

60 minutes prior to the test

1 vial of guarana shot

Helps to stimulate us, reduce the feeling of fatigue and improve the perception of effort

30 minutes prior to the test

1 multicarb gel (choose flavor)



500ml bottle or 2 glasses of Iso drink with small sips of water

½ multicarbo boost. Drink towards the end of the hour to continue your shot in the second hour of the race.

Total: 50-60gHC and 600-700ml


500ml bottle or 2 glasses of Iso drink with small sips of water

½ multicarbo boost gel

Total: 50-60HC and 600-700ml


This is the point where the glycogen stores are emptied and we find ourselves with a “wall” downturn. It is time to take more HC (30g) and caffeine.


500ml bottle or 2 glasses of Iso drink with small sips of water

1 multicarbo gel

Total: 50-60HC and 600-700ml

Remember that when you take a gel you must accompany it with drinks of water.

+ 30min

½ 250ml can or 1 glass of Iso drink with small sips of water

Total: 15-20gHC and 250-400ml

Table 2 . Proposal of a food chronology for a marathon. Source: own elaboration.

Note: different proposals have been developed that may change along the way, taking into account table 1 and the products that multipower offers us.

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