What To Eat A Night Before Marathon

As an experienced marathon runner, I often get asked about the best foods to eat the night before a race. Fueling your body with the right nutrients is crucial for optimal performance and endurance on race day. After years of trial and error, I’ve learned what works best for me, and I’m here to share my personal insights with you.

Carbohydrates: The Foundation of Your Pre-Race Meal

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for endurance activities like marathon running. They are stored in our muscles and liver as glycogen, which fuels our exercise. Therefore, it is essential to focus on consuming a carbohydrate-rich meal the night before a marathon.

My go-to pre-race meal consists of a combination of complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, pasta, rice, or potatoes. These foods provide a sustained release of energy, ensuring that I have the necessary fuel throughout the race. Additionally, I aim to include some protein and healthy fats to help with muscle recovery and satiety.

Protein for Muscle Repair and Recovery

While carbohydrates take center stage in your pre-race meal, don’t forget to include a moderate amount of high-quality protein. Protein plays a crucial role in muscle repair and recovery, which is especially important after a long and intense run like a marathon.

Some excellent sources of protein include lean meats like chicken or turkey, fish, tofu, legumes, and dairy products. I prefer to include a palm-sized portion of protein in my pre-race dinner to ensure I’m meeting my body’s needs. However, everyone’s protein requirements may be different, so listen to your body and adjust accordingly.

Hydration: Key to Prevent Dehydration

Staying properly hydrated before a marathon is just as important as the food you eat. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, especially in the hours leading up to your race. Dehydration can significantly impact performance and increase the risk of cramping.

I usually start my hydration routine a few days before the race to ensure I am adequately hydrated. On the night before the marathon, I avoid excessive amounts of alcohol or caffeinated beverages, as they can have a diuretic effect. Instead, I opt for water, electrolyte-rich drinks, or herbal tea to maintain a good hydration status.

What to Avoid

While it’s essential to focus on what to eat, it’s equally important to know what to avoid the night before a marathon. Here are a few things I stay away from:

  • High-fiber foods: While fiber is vital for overall health, it can cause gastrointestinal distress during a race. Avoid foods like beans, broccoli, and other gas-producing vegetables.
  • Spicy and fatty foods: These can lead to indigestion and heartburn, making your race day experience uncomfortable.
  • Experimenting with new foods: Stick to foods that you know your body can tolerate well. Race day is not the time for a culinary adventure!

My Pre-Race Dinner Menu

Now that we have covered the general guidelines, here’s an example of what my pre-race dinner looks like:

  • A generous portion of whole wheat pasta with a homemade tomato sauce.
  • A palm-sized serving of grilled chicken breast or salmon.
  • A side of roasted vegetables, such as carrots, bell peppers, and zucchini.
  • A small mixed green salad with a light dressing.
  • A slice of whole grain bread or a small portion of quinoa.
  • For dessert, a small bowl of mixed berries for an extra dose of antioxidants.

Remember, this is just a sample meal, and you should tailor it to your preferences and dietary needs. Be sure to eat your pre-race dinner a few hours before bedtime to allow for proper digestion and minimize any discomfort.


The night before a marathon, fueling your body with the right foods can significantly impact your race day performance. By focusing on complex carbohydrates, incorporating some protein, staying hydrated, and avoiding certain foods, you can set yourself up for success.

Remember, what works for me may not work for everyone. It’s essential to listen to your body, experiment with different foods during training, and find a pre-race meal that leaves you feeling energized and ready to conquer the miles ahead.

Good luck on your marathon journey, and may your pre-race dinner be as satisfying as your finish line moment!