The easy guide to race day: marathon nutrition and hydration

Exercise Wellbeing

Getting ready for that big race? You’ve probably discovered by now that a marathon is about so much more than just running. It’s about overcoming obstacles and mustering the resilience to see your goal through all the way to the finish line. From shoe selection to speedwork, mental preparation and pre-run stretches, there’s a lot that goes into that feeling of finally getting your medal around your neck.

But there’s something else that can make or break your race. Whether you’re training for a 5K, 10K, half-marathon or full-marathon, having your marathon nutrition and hydration strategy in place well before you get to the start line is essential, not just for your personal record, but also for your body.

Race day hydration and nutrition for runners comes down to a few simple principles. So, to make sure you’ll be running your best race on the big day, here’s what you need to know about fuelling your body, hydration and post-run nutrition. And if you’re doing a virtual race instead, we’ve got you covered too.

marathon runner

Marathon nutrition: how to fuel your body

When it comes to nutrition for runners, there’s one key word to keep in mind: glycogen.

Glycogen is the fuel your body needs on the day of the race. This is why it’s important to keep an eye on your glycogen stores to make sure you’ve got enough to support you during the marathon. It’s never a good feeling when you realise you’re starting to run on fumes right in the middle of the race. So, to avoid glycogen depletion, make carbs the star of your meal. Add them to your diet days before the marathon and make sure you have a carb-rich meal 3-4 hours before the race. A good trick is to have a second small breakfast an hour before the run. A banana or a handful of dried fruits will do. They’re great to eat on the go and won’t make you feel full.

Remember: don’t try any new foods on the day of the race. Go with what you know and what works best for you.

Hydration for runners: getting the balance right

With your marathon nutrition plan in place, it’s time to think about hydration. Replacing fluids is extremely important, especially if you’ll be running more than one hour. Here are a few top hydration tips to keep in mind:

Hydrations starts well before the race

Make sure you drink plenty of water in the days coming up to your marathon. Don’t forget there are also plenty of food choices with a high water content you can add to your diet. Watermelon, for example, can make a great snack and will give you a hydration boost as well.

Over-hydration can cause problems

Don’t go overboard drinking more water than your body actually needs. Temperature, humidity and running distance will impact your level of water consumption but drinking between 400ml-800ml each hour during the marathon should give you the right amount of hydration.

Don’t drink a lot of water in one go

Drinking water regularly, even during the run, is a better strategy than taking one big gulp of water at the beginning and hoping to win extra time by not stopping at the water stations on your way. Instead, drink water little and often.

Take a bottle of water with you for longer races

If you don’t want to rely on water stations, you can take a water bottle with you. Our BUXTON Still Natural Mineral Water comes in smaller bottles, so you can choose our smallest 25cl water bottle, or go for our 50cl and 75cl bottles instead. They come with a Sports cap which makes them ideal for hydration on the run.

Hydration doesn’t stop at the finish line

You’ve completed your race and feeling like an Olympic champion. Congratulations! As soon as your victory lap is over, it’s time for recovery. Start refueling and rehydrating, especially if you’ve just finished a long race.

Don’t forget that post-run nutrition is just as important as your pre-run meal. Carbs will replenish your energy levels and proteins will help with muscle growth and repair. So, have a good meal and drink plenty of water after the race is over.

Marathon nutrition and hydration for virtual races

Has your race been cancelled or postponed? Don’t cross it off your bucket list just yet. You can still accomplish your marathon goal by joining a virtual race instead. Big crowds cheering, cordoned off roads and water stations might not be part of the experience, but you’ll still get your medal, even if it’s in the mail and you can still celebrate an amazing achievement with your loved ones.

Hydration and nutrition for runners in virtual races need a bit more planning, but it all comes down to two choices: will you be running on a straight course or on a looped course. If you’re planning to do your virtual race on a straight course, carrying your water and fuel with you is important. But if you prefer running on a looped course instead, make sure you set up a water station outside your house so you can get the hydration you need during the race.

Our BUXTON® Natural Mineral Water comes in different sizes, so you can choose the one that’s more convenient to you for those important regular sips of water, no matter the type of marathon course you choose. Plus, all our bottles are fully recyclable and a growing part of our range, including the 25cl, 50cl Sports cap and 75cl bottles, are made using other bottles as much as possible. This means that they can be easily recycled as soon as the race is over.

Now with marathon nutrition and hydration covered, it’s time to choose your race. And don’t forget to check out one of the most popular running events of the year: the Virgin Money London Marathon.