Nutrition plans an integral role during your marathon/half marathon training program. Here are the key points to be aware of:

• Is essential
• Need 5-12oz every 10-12 minutes
• Active individuals should consume at least 10-12 cups a day
• No calories/ CHO/sodium for events lasting under an hour, more than an hour CHO replenishment is needed 

Sports Drinks 

• Won’t delay stomach emptying or absorption if it does not contain more than 20g of CHO in 8oz or 6- 8% CHO by weight
• 50-80kcals
• Contains sodium, potassium
• Less concentrated form than bars and gels
• Carbonated and sweetened soft drinks and fruit juices are not recommended for use during endurance 
events. Soft drinks contain 10-11% CHO which decreases absorption. Carbonation can cause gastrointestinal distress by turning into carbon dioxide gas in the stomach. Fruit juices contain high amounts of CHO and not enough sodium.

Energy Bars 

• Average of 100-300 kcals
• 20-50g CHO
• Limited fat content (less than 4g), limited fiber content (less than 5g), and limited protein content (8- 
10g) (Applegate, 1999d). Fat, fiber, and protein are limited as they can hamper digestion by keeping 
energy from reaching your muscles as fast as you need it.
• At least 12-16oz of water should be consumed with an energy bar to aid digestion and absorption.
• Most bars contain a combination of complex CHO (rice, oats, isolated starch) and simple CHO or sugar 
(dried fruit, brown-rice syrup, high fructose corn syrup, etc.). 
Energy Gels
• 17-28g CHO
• 70-133 calories/sv
• They are designed to be rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream as glucose, and provide instant energy.
• However, they are a concentrated source of CHO and must be consumed with water (10-12oz) to 
prevent dehydration and aid digestion and absorption. Some energy gels may also contain caffeine.

Antioxidants and Exercise

Although exercise is beneficial, it does lead to an increase in oxygen consumption, increase of oxygen into the muscles, and the production of free radicals. Free radicals can ultimately lead to oxidative damage and result in muscle fiber degeneration. Also, tissues that are injured during hard exercise are subject to inflammation.


Vitamin C
• The RDA for vitamin C is 100mg for adult males and females.
• Good dietary sources for vitamin C include citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables, berries, tomatoes, and 
green leafy vegetables. 
Vitamin E
• The current RDA for vitamin E is 15mg a-tocopherol equivalents (ATE) for males and females.
• Dietary sources for vitamin E include vegetable oils (soy, cottonseed, corn, safflower), products made 
from these oils (margarine, shortening, mayonnaise), wheat germ and nuts. 
B-carotene /Vitamin A
• The RDA for vitamin A is 1000mg retinol equivalents (RE) (3333 IU (international units)) for males and 800mg RE (2667 IU) for females.
• Rich dietary sources of preformed vitamin A are liver, dairy products (milk, cheese, butter, ice cream), and fish.
• Rich dietary sources of provitamin A (carotenoids) are carrots, yellow squash, dark green leafy vegetables, corn, tomatoes, papaya, sweet potatoes, and oranges. 
Female Athletes and Nutrition 
Females have special nutritional needs. One such concern is the Female Athlete Triad. This starts with an eating disorder which leads to osteoporosis and amenorrhea (lack of a menstruation). 
Female athletes also need to pay special attention to iron and calcium. 
• The RDA for iron is 8 to 15mg/day.
• Dietary sources for iron red meat, fish, poultry, legumes, and broccoli.
• Iron from animals (heme) has a higher absorption than iron from non-animal sources (nonheme) 
• The RDA for calcium is 100 to 1500mg/dau.
• Dietary sources of calcium are milk and milk products, small fish (with bones), tofu, and greens 
(broccoli, chard)
• Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium. 
USA FIT Coaches Role 
FIT coaches should follow the nutritional recommendations provided in the Coaches Manual when advising members. Specific nutritional concerns, especially any involving medical issues, should be directed to a nutritionist or dietitian.

• With 3-4 days before marathon or endurance event, increase CHO intake to 60-65%. This will help 
ensure storage of glycogen. As each gram of glycogen stores 2.7 grams of water, a bloated feeling may 
• Day before limit high-fiber, gaseous foods, such as bran cereals, beans, some vegetables
• Limit alcohol and other diuretics (caffeine)
Race Day 
Before a run or race, it is necessary to eat to ensure stable blood sugar levels. This will prevent fatigue from low blood sugar levels.
• 2-4 hours before race, consume at 50-75g of CHO
• Good choices would include 
o bagels (31g CHO / 55g)
o raisins (57g CHO / 0.5cup)
o bananas (27g / medium size)
o rice (17g CHO / 0.5 cup white rice) o pasta (15g CHO/ 0.5cup)
o pancakes (9g CHO / 27g)
o sports drinks (14-20g CHO / 8oz).
• Test out meal before marathon
During Race
• Consume 5-12oz of fluid every 10-20 minutes
• Glycogen stores will start to get low after 60 minutes of exercise, so need to consume 30-60g (120- 
240kcals) of CHO/hour
• Good and quick sources of energy during runs lasting over an hour are sports drinks, energy bars, and 
energy gels.
• CHO ingestion during exercise maintains blood glucose concentrations during the duration of the 
prolonged exercise. This results in the athlete being able to exercise longer and sprint faster at the end of exercise. 
Energy During An Endurance Event 
Energy is provided to your muscles from all three sources – carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Carbohydrates will be provided from available blood glucose and the storage of glucose (glycogen). (The predominant fuel choice during an endurance event will be from carbohydrate and fat so that protein will be spared for use.) 
Carbohydrate is the more readily available fuel for muscles during endurance activities. It is the rate-limiting factor; if you run out of CHO your intensity will decrease because the body is not able to provide fuel at a fast enough rate to sustain muscle activity. This explains why it is necessary to consume CHO after 60 minutes of exercise, so that you can maintain efficient blood glucose levels. However with training the body becomes more adept at utilizing fat for energy and relies less of CHO.