We ask Tamara Madden "What Do I Eat When Training For My First Marathon?"

Here are my top five tips to have you ready and feeling strong at the start line.

  • Recovery Nutrition is essential

Always eat a meal / snack within 30 minutes of finishing all training

This is the best time of the day to include carbohydrate in a meal, be it fruit, vegetable, starchy carb or whole grains.

Not eating after training will compromise glycogen replacement, result in fatigue and potentially immune system issues. It will also leave you feeling hungry for the rest of the day, and potential lead to weight gain.

Getting the recovery meal right will help improve your running speed, power and endurance.

Recovery meal needs to be in the Ratio of 3:1 Carb: Protein for endurance athletes

Some examples of appropriate meals:

- Porridge with fresh fruit and yoghurt

- Eggs on Toast with a side of avocado or spinach

- Palm size portion of protein with lots of veggies – including one starchy veg such as sweet potato or any other “ below the ground “ vegetable.

- Palm size portion of protein with some brown rice and salad greens.



  • Should you eat before exercise?

If you are training first thing in the morning it’s ok to do so on an empty tummy for up to 75-90 minutes. However, if you feel better with a something in your tummy choose a carbohydrate snack such as a banana or some fresh dates (3 -4). Around 25-30 grams of carb is perfect

  • Hydration

You need to drink 1.5 Litres of water per day, plus replace anything lost from exercise. . A rough guide is around 600ml of water extra for every hour of exercise.

In Summer this loss will be greater than in Winter, and its depends on the activity you are doing. Calculating your sweat rate is the most effective way to ensure you are adequately replacing fluids.

  • Sleep

Many athletes compromise sleep for training. This is not a good strategy, and will lead to fatigue, immune issues and potentially weight gain. You need around 7-8 hours sleep per night.

  • Eat Real Food

Athletes need to eat a nutrient dense diet with good quality protein and fats, and healthy carbohydrates. Make time for meal preparation and be organized for the week ahead. Do not rely on packaged and processed foods.

How much Protein? 1.2 -1.5 grams per kilo of body weight per day.

How much Carbs? This depends on your body composition, your training and your goals.


For meal ideas and further information about healthy eating for athletes please visit www.madonnutrition.com.au

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