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5 Nutrition Tips for Marathon Training

Orla Walsh, RD
Orla Walsh, RD
Orla Walsh is a Registered Dietitian, owner of Orla Walsh Nutrition, former performance nutritionist to the Irish Olympic team and regular contributor for the Irish Independent newspaper, RTE and Newstalk FM.
nutrition tips for marathon training

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” – La Rochefoucauld

Whether you’re an extremely talented runner or going to take part for the craic nutrition is key to performing at your best and making sure you enjoy the whole experience. When considering nutrition for sports, there are lots of areas to discuss. However, without the correct foundation to your diet, little can be achieved. 

A healthy, balanced, sports-enhancing diet can;

  1. Delay tiredness, 
  2. Enhance stamina, 
  3. Help you to train at a higher intensity, 
  4. Improve your adaptation to training, 
  5. Reduce the risk of injury, 
  6. Promote recovery 
  7. Help you feel at your best physically. 

Nutrition Tips For Endurance Sports

1. Water

Single handedly the most important thing you can change, if you’re not doing well enough. Athletes cannot rely on drinking to thirst as the recognition of thirst is dulled. Aim to pee in the loo and not see the pee. You’ll need 2 litres at least. 

2. Carbohydrate

Carbohydrates are the fuel for muscles when we are out of breath and they feed your brain. Think of carbohydrates as petrol to a car. The faster you drive, the further you drive and the more frequently you drive your car, the more petrol that you need. Although you need to tailor your day to day requirements on these factors combined with your weight, when it comes to how much you take on during a your long run, it doesn’t matter if you’re 40, 80 or 120kg. Everyone needs the same amount. Get that right and you’ll fly. 

3. Protein

Protein is the food group that feeds your muscles and bones. These tissues are constantly breaking down and rebuilding. This process accelerates when you train, as your muscles are adapting to your training. To ensure that your muscles respond maximally to your training make sure to eat enough protein at each meal. The bigger you are and the older you are, the more you need.

4. Fruit and Vegetables

Do not scrimp on fruit and vegetables, they’re more important than you might think! Fruit and vegetables protect the body against illness, which is crucial when immune systems are compromised with heavy training loads. Try and eat the bulk of fruit and veg at the meals that don’t surround training. So, if you’re about to go on a run or have just been running, you don’t need as much fruit or veg.  

5. Milk

Milk is your best friend. It offers carbs to refuel the tank, protein to repair muscles and water to rehydrate. In fact, it’s more hydrating than water (yep – it’s true! Nature’s sports drink offering up water, electrolytes and the near perfect amount of carbohydrate). A pint of milk after training will kick start early recovery so chug chug chug! And, if you heat it and drink it as hot chocolate on cold evenings, that’s perfect too, especially after long runs. Enjoy!

If you would like to speak to one of our dietitians about performance nutrition or a more specific health issue, you can book a consultation, either virtually or in person at Orla Walsh Nutrition.

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