Apologies if it's been done to death before but...

18 messages
14/04/2009 at 14:29

As a first-time marathon runner, my problem isn't shin splints or bleeding nipples. It's breakfast. And specifically the most appropriate pre-race breakfast.

The trouble is, I'm not somebody who can normally stomach breakfast. Whilst I absolutely understand its health benefits - and can normally chow down a couple of slices of wholemeal toast with peanut butter around 11am - I am at a bit of a loss when it comes to forcing down food before running.

I've tried various things before I've done my long training runs. Wholemeal toast and honey (bad), bagel with butter (badder), wholemeal crackers (baddest). All of which have really unpleasantly repeated on me while I've been pounding the pavements.

I suppose it doesn't help that I can't stand bananas, I don't drink milk so don't really eat cereal and fruit juice and smoothies make me want to heave.

The real problem being, I suppose, that the only thing that REALLY appeals is a bacon sandwich with ketchup or a stack of pancakes. 

But that's not really appropriate pre-race fuel.

Is it?


Any thoughts, tips or links would be very much appreciated. Any advice on how to get fuelled without getting sick would be absolutely adored.

14/04/2009 at 15:04

As long as the pancakes are made with literally no more than a wipe of oil on the pan to stop them sticking I would have thought they would be ok if you can stomach them.

I'd find them too heavy personally.

When is your marathon?

14/04/2009 at 15:06
14/04/2009 at 15:09

I've only done one marathon, and had done everything right, rehearsing the pre-race breakfast (porridge) before my long runs etc etc. On race day, I was in Amsterdam (so no porridge) - only thing I stuck to was the time, eating 2-3 hours before the race started. I had 2 brown rolls with honey and a very large bowl of muesli (none of which I'd tried before running) and that seemed to work.

I guess it's very individual but my only stomach problems have occured with Lucozade, otherwise I'm fine. I think with the marathon the days before are as important for ensuring you're well hydrated and have eaten plenty, and hopefully the race will take care of itself. If you need any more info, pop over to Shades Marathon Training thread and there will be lots more experienced people to help.

14/04/2009 at 15:26
Thanks so much for the advice. I'm running the London marathon on 26th April and whilst I've managed to follow quite a tough training schedule, I'm a complete novice where all the nutrition / fuelling stuff is concerned. I have one more mid-length run to do this weekend so perhaps I'll try some very healthy pancakes then.
14/04/2009 at 15:48

Hello Nicholas

I saw the word 'pancakes' and just had to join in

I've done 3 full marathons so far, and each time I have been away from home staying in b+b's. With each one I have skipped the full cooked breakfast / cereal / toast shenanigans they offer, and have taken my own packet of pre-cooked pancakes to eat in my room . Like you I cannot stomach cereal / milk and the thought of a big heavy fry up before 26miles just doesnt appeal....hmmmm maybe after though .

So, before each marathon I have had about 2 or 3 of the pancakes cold, two cups green tea, and a glass of high5 protein/carb drink pre-mixed. Then a mix of Lucozade sport and water drunk on the way to the event. Has worked well for me.

My 4th mara will be Lochaber this weekend, I plan to do a similar thing as usual with the pancake / energy drink, but as the race has quite a late start this time I will probably also partake of some toast at the b+b, but will avoid the cooked stuff as it makes me sluggish.

Good Luck for 26th!

14/04/2009 at 15:58

I have a friend who has done tons of marathons and races and he swears by a fry up before hand; so a bacon sarni might be fine for you.  Certainly better than an empty stomach. 

What about porridge made with either skimmed milk or water then a topping of your choice?  Personally, I like porridge made with half milk, half water then sprinkled with brown sugar.

14/04/2009 at 16:10

Nicholas, I too can't stand bananas but also like you can't tolerate breakfast (most days, not just race days) so my only trick is to eat the bliddy bananas holding my nose! 

Make sure you eat well the night before also.

14/04/2009 at 16:17

You could try something like Slimfast shakes.

The chocolate one is pretty nice, and the coffee one.  They have a couple of hundred calories, and are quite well-balanced nutritionally.

You could tell yourself it's not food, it's just a drink!

14/04/2009 at 16:28

Yes, like Cinders says, the glycogen storage in your muscles will mostly happen from the meal you eat the night before the race, and also from carbo-loading during the week before, so on race morning a light snack should suffice. If you have a pasta dinner or similar the night before, have something plain, try to avoid acidic (like rich tomato) sauces or anything spicy (although thats just me, I know some people like a good curry the night before ).

Usually I am too nervous on the morning thinking about things like getting there in time, have I got all the right kit etc, and focusing on what is ahead, eating is the last thing on my mind. I do the pancake thing because they are fairly bland, light on the stomach, digest really easily and have a good long lasting energy. They have not failed me yet .

I would be put off the bacon due to the grease factor and being harder to digest protein. It may end up just sitting in your stomach like a brick! Go for something light and carbohydrate rich.

14/04/2009 at 16:35
I agree that your overall carb-loading strategy is more important than breakfast in the morning (although get your breakfast strategy sorted out, for peace of mind as much as anything else.) I ran the Paris marathon last year and took a portion of porridge (my usual LR brekky) over with me but didn't get round to using it. Didn't feel particularly hungry in the morning, ate half a roll at most, washed down with a cup of coffee and some water, but ran the race with bags of energy to spare.
14/04/2009 at 16:50

Thats interesting Cake, I hadnt heard that before about asthma.

I do like a little flat cola occasionally during a cycle ride I have an excuse its not just for the sugar content .

14/04/2009 at 17:06

Thats true....I read somewhere in the older races they used to give out flat cola instead of energy drinks...sometimes I wish they still did that now, sometimes a little hit of caffeine is just what you need to keep going, but not from these over-sickly gel bars.

Usually by the end of a race I am so sick of sweet things I'm craving anything with salt in goody bag I ever got had a packet of ready salted crisps in it....I was like YES, genius organisers .

14/04/2009 at 17:16

Wow, thanks very much indeed for all the advice... and particular thanks to you, Tigerspaw, for the tips about pancakes. I will certainly try them out at the weekend.

As a complete carb junkie, I'm very excited at the prospect of carb loading next week. I only slightly embarrassed to admit that I have already roped off an area in our local Italian for the evening of Saturday 25th.

Nick x  

14/04/2009 at 17:22

LOL Cake.....okay maybe not completely sick of sweet things.

I have to add that same goody bag also contained two snack-sized Mars Bars .

Good Luck Nick, I hope the pancakes work for you too, I swear by 'em.

Booking the Italian sounds very sensible to me......I'm not quite so sure I'm gonna have as much luck finding somewhere decent to eat in Fort William this Sat, might have to be chinese as at least I have been there before and know the food is half decent.

14/04/2009 at 20:45
I eat gatosport sports cake ( before a long run.Very easy to eat and pretty tasty as well .
14/04/2009 at 22:10

I've heard from a veteran marathon runner  that you should try to stomach 6 fl Ounzes of Honey 36 hrs before the race (friday 10pm). Apparently 4 fl oz saturates your muscles with glycogen and the other 2 oz will sit in your liver. When running, after the muscle glycogen stores have been depleted (usually about 20 miles) the liver is the next place your body will look for glycogen. This should see you through till the end.

Any one heard of this before?


15/04/2009 at 15:00

Tins of beans and sausage on toast, I find they go down well and give me some real energy

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