Friday Feast: Marathon Nutrition Plan

My race nutrition for the WDW Marathon has been in the back of my mind for some time now, but I hadn’t really sat down and laid it out.  Earlier this week, my CrossFit coach was asking me how my shin splints were doing and I told him about the upcoming marathon, which prompted him to immediately ask about my nutrition plan.  Since I hadn’t planned it all out yet, he told me to have it to him by the end of this week.  Yikes…ok, I guess I better get going.

You mean I can't just eat pizza during a marathon like this dude????
You mean I can’t just eat pizza during a marathon like this dude????
Photo Source: Fun Running Ryan

I started by doing some research.  I found this article on the 4 Steps to Perfect Marathon Fueling to help calculate how many calories I will need to consume per hour to help maintain my energy and prevent muscle fatigue.  I determined that I would need 164 calories/hour if I was to maintain a 13 minute/mile pace.  I figure that’s a good baseline, so I started putting my plan together with that in mind.

Let’s start with my pre-race food.  I’m planning on being on a bus by 3:30 am.  My alarm will be set for 2:30 am at which time I will have a big glass of water and some green tea while I get dressed, then prep a gluten-free/egg-free english muffin with almond butter to eat on the bus.  I’ll also be bringing a banana to have on my walk over to the corrals around 4:30 am along with a few cups of water from the holding area.  GuRight now, I’m starting in corral G (boooooo!) which takes off at 6:17 am, but I’m hoping to get this changed at the expo…we’ll see.  Whatever time I end up starting, I will take a Gu (chocolate outrage ftw!) 15 minutes prior.

My plan is to have a Gu every 3.5 miles with water.  I’ll also be combining a glass of Powerade and water at various waterstations (roughly about 3 miles apart).  Fuel BeltI will be carrying a fuel belt with 2-10.5 oz. bottles of water to supplement hydration between water stops.  The marathon also has various food stations along the course where bananas and candy are available and I will definitely be taking advantage of those.  I’ve never actually eaten a banana while running before, so hopefully it will settle well.  B will be meeting me at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex around 10 am, which should be around mile 17 to bring me some salted crackers, refill my water bottles and possibly give me a nice clean shirt 🙂  Best hubs around!

Here is my mile by mile plan for fuel:

  • Mile 3: 50/50 Water & Powerade
  • Mile 3.5: Gu
  • Mile 6.25: 50/50
  • Mile 7: Gu
  • Mile 9.5: 50/50
  • Mile 10.5: Gu
  • Mile 11.5: Banana
  • Mile 13: 50/50
  • Mile 14: Gu
  • Mile 16.5: 50/50
  • Mile 17.5: Gu
  • Mile 18.3: Banana & Salted Crackers
  • Mile 20.5: 50/50
  • Mile 21: Gu
  • Mile 24: 50/50
  • Mile 24.5: Gu
  • Mile 25: 50/50

Yowza…that’s a lot!  I’m going to have to carry a cheat sheet with me.  Now onto post-race meals.  Immediately following the race, I will grab another banana, water and Powerade to have immediately.  I’m also planning on having B bring another english muffin with almond butter to the finish line with some crackers in the hopes I will be able to keep that down.

After an ice bath and a nap, I’m sure a beer (screw the gluten!) and some fish and chips will be in order from Raglan Road during the cool down party.  Yum!

Raglan Road Fish & Chips
Raglan Road Fish & Chips

So now I look to all of you experienced marathoners out there…what do you think of this plan?  Am I on the right track?  Am I forgetting anything?

If you have a specific marathon nutrition plan, please share in the comments below!

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  • Thanks for meal plan. I never know how much to consume during a race so this chart is helpful!

    How did you find out what corral your starting in and do you know if they will change it for you?

    I registered for the Goofy when it was 99% full so I’m guessing I’m not a favorable starting position.

  • Your plan looks excellent. My only comment is that if you’ve never actually eaten a banana while running, you might be taking a risk by doing so (I can’t eat bananas during a run). Why not try one during a practice run to see how it settles? (I know, time is short)

    I’m in corral D but will probably drop back to G to run with my brother-in-law. The marathon spreads out faster than the half, and by the time you turn onto to that road to Animal Kingdom there won’t be any more bottlenecks. Good luck and have fun!

    • That’s a good point…I’m going to see how I feel during the race and go from there. Given the expected heat, I just want to make sure I have enough calories in me.
      I doubt I’ll be able to change, so hopefully I’ll see you in G 🙂

  • My plan is GU every hour and a big fat salted soft pretzel with cheese in Animal Kingdom. And to try not to die and maybe keep pace with you for a half mile =P Hey…btw….Dean Karnazes has delivered and eats entire pizzas on his long runs

  • What have you been doing in training for nutrition? I typically take gels in every 45 min and I sip on nuun on every walk break (I run 5:1s). The biggest thing about race day is to not try anything new. If you haven’t tried a banana yet I’d stay clear on the race. If it doesn’t sit well 8 miles is a long way to go with a stomach in distress. If you are taking in gels every 45 min (which is what I believe most of the packets recommend) you should be okay for calories.

    Otherwise your pre-race fueling plan looks awesome!

    Good luck this weekend! I’ll be there running the Goofy!!

    • Thanks Leana. I’m definitely rethinking this banana thing the more I hear from experienced marathoners like yourself. In training and in my prior half marathons, I have taken Gu every 45 min or so. This plan I have factored it in for every 3.5 miles, which will be about 40 min or so for me. I will probably stick with the crackers towards the end for some added salt and crunch. A few of those shouldn’t upset my stomach.

      Good luck to you as well!

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