As you can probably imagine, compared to the average person, marathon runners need to consume quite a bit more food on a daily basis to support their training. And this is especially true for the pros who dedicate the majority of their waking hours to race prep for weeks on end.
Of course, it’s not just the volume of their intake that’s important, but also the quality of the foods they’re eating. Fueling with the right balance of nutrients is an important part of sustaining such an intense training regimen.
2014 Boston Marathon Champion and PowerBar Elite Athlete, Meb Keflezighi says he eats roughly 3,000 calories per day when he’s in marathon training mode. Currently, he’s gearing up to run the 2015 New York City Marathon and recently shared an in-depth look at what he’s been eating on a daily basis, plus his and his PowerBar teammates’ top tips for training, race day and post-race recovery.
What Meb Eats in a Day
•More than 120 grams of protein (more than two times the average amount for an adult male).
•400+ grams of carbohydrates (also more than two times the average amount for an adult male).
•Lots of lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats.
•He really likes Protein Plus PowerBars for recovery.
Meal by Meal
Breakfast: Whole wheat bagel with almond butter, or two slices of whole wheat toast with almond butter and a drizzle of honey
Lunch: Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomatoes, or scrambled eggs, or egg omelet with turkey, ham and vegetables and avocado with a side salad
Snacks: Handful of blueberries, banana, apple, pear, orange, peach, Protein Plus PowerBars (Chocolate Peanut Butter or Vanilla), beef jerky
Dinner: Whole wheat pasta with turkey meatballs
Beverages: Electrolyte drinks and 60 to 70 ounces of water daily
Marathon Training Tips from Meb and More Elites
•“Increase mileage gradually when training and run on soft surfaces whenever possible,” Keflezighi explained. “This will decrease the impact on your knees and feet and minimize injuries.”
•“Make sure to recover properly in between runs,” said American Olympic marathon runner Desi Linden. “Take your easy days easy. By doing so, you will allow your body to recover and absorb the work before you put in your next hard effort.”
•“Make sure to eat every three hours” said elite distance runner Josh Cox. “Staying hydrated with fresh water also plays a vital role in both cell function and weight loss.”
Tips for Race Day Performance
•"Break the race down into manageable sections instead of focusing on how much is left,” Linden said. “Set up mini goals for yourself and focus on the moment you are in.”
•“Don’t wear or do anything new on race day” Cox explained. “Practice your pre-race fuel, clothing, drinks and gels. Anything and everything you’d do on race day, practice on the long efforts.”
•“Always have PowerGels on-hand, the Double Latte PowerGel® Energy Gel is my favorite,” Linden shared. “Take these with water, not an electrolyte drink, to keep your stomach happy.”
•“Use Body Glide or Vaseline in key areas where your skin rubs like under arms and between your legs,” Cox suggested. “Also, keep your toenails clipped and manicured to avoid bloody socks!”
Tips for Post-Race Recovery
•“To aid recovery, try eating the Chocolate Peanut Butter or Vanilla PowerBar® ProteinPlus® bar with 25 grams of carbohydrates and 20 grams of protein,” Keflezighi recommended. “Also stretch and massage muscles to flush out lactic acid, which helps avoid increased soreness or stiffness.”
•“The ProteinPlus® bar is great for recovery because it restores sodium, a key electrolyte lost during race-time,” Linden explained. “A good ice bath and massage never hurts either!”