Moniqu Ryan

Sports Nutrition Blog

Marathon Race Week and Race Day Nutrition: A helpful checklist

Sports Nutrition for Enduance AthetesFleet Feet Chicago Marathon Panel

The 2103 Chicago Marathon is only 12days away. This past Sunday I was part of a Fleet Feet panel that included  Meb Keflezighi and Deena Kastor, as well as race director Carey Pinkowski. Over 400 attendees recieved tips for the last week of marathon preparation.

Here are some of the higlights of the nutrition tips provded.  Planning your nutrition strategies this week allows you to prepare with all the needed foods and fluid for next week so the your carbo-loading plan, pre-race meal and race fueling plan all go smoothly and you have plenty of fuel to complete the race.

Carbo-loading: Follow your race taper plan and plan to load up on carbohydrates from grains, fruits, and sports nutrition supplements on the thursday and friday before the race. Carbo-loading a few days ahead ensures that you do not have to play catch-up carbohydrate loading on saturday and get uncomfortably stuffed the day before the race. Finish eating early saturday and stick with plain and easily digested foods. Pack snacks, lunch, and plan some high carbohydrate dinners that center around rice, pasta, and potatoes during the week. Other concentrated sources of carbohydrates include bagels, cereals, and breads.

Pre-race meal:  Think about cereal, breads, and fruits that you can comfortable consume race morning. Make sure that they are available at home or in your hotel room. Stick with foods that you have tried out prior to your long runs. If liquids are best, try a sports shake and other supplements. You definitely want to go easy on the fiber the 24-48 hours before running a long race.

Here is a link to my Runner’s World Article on Pre-race meal strategies:


At the starting corrals,  runners will be offered a 30 g shot of carbohydrate from the Gatorade Carb Energy Drink. You can top off glucose stores by consuming this 15 to 45 minutes before the start. During the race, fuel and hydrate regularly with the Gatorade Endurance Drink offered on the course.


Carbohydrate foods for carbo-loading on thursday and friday. Make a list of your favorites and stick with easily digested foods.

Pre-race meal: Aim for 100 g of carbohydrate: look at labels of easily digested and tested favorites. Use sports nutrition products such as liquid meals if needed.

Use the Gatorade Carb Energy Drink at the starting corrals.

Plan out your aid station strategies: how many cups of the Gatorade Endurance Drink? One gulp of fluid equals about 1 ounce.


Monique Ryan is a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics with over 25 years of experience helping active people optimize their nutrition and body composition. Contact us at 847-864-8689 to schedule your consult. Ryan has worked with elite athletes in soccer, football, basketball, triathlon, cycling, and mountain biking.

She is the author of Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, 3rd edition.