Your Marathon Taper Week Nutrition Plan

1,000 to 2,000 mg DHA/EPA from fish oil daily: The idea is to increase your ratio of omega-3 fats to other fats consumed. Because our diets are much higher in omega-6 fats and omega-9 fats, supplementing the omega-3s can help, and thereby increase the production of anti-inflammatory hormones and processes in the body while decreasing the pro-inflammatory ones.

5 grams L-glutamine each night: Endurance athletes often become deficient in this amino acid because their muscles use it heavily during training. If not supplemented, it may affect both muscle recovery and digestion.

High-quality multivitamin daily: Most athletes, especially those who control their diets to maintain a lean weight, are at least slightly deficient in magnesium, copper, iron, B vitamins and more. Even consuming a healthy diet, you can become deficient. The reason: some athletes use up more nutrients than they can consume via food.

More: Top 5 Vitamins to Aid Muscle Recovery

Iron daily: If you're a female runner, you're at a higher risk of becoming iron deficient. It's best that iron levels are optimized early in training. However, optimizing them beginning seven days before a race is better than not at all. With your doctor's or nutritionist's individual recommendations in hand, reach for a slow-digesting or gentle-on-the-stomach iron supplement. I often recommend Slow-Fe and Hemaplex.

Beetroot juice as a performance aid for seven days: Beets contain nitrates that the body uses to improve oxygen uptake by the cells. Drink 500 milliliters (16 ounces) of beetroot juice every day for six days leading up to your race, and then one more dose just 2 to 3 hours before the race. You can also use organic beetroot powder in an equivalent of 16 ounces of juice. Confirm amounts and equivalents with individual manufacturers.

More: 3 Ways Athletes Can Add Beet Juice to Their Diet

One Day Out

Zone in on two nutrients the day before your race: carbohydrates and sodium. This is the time to load. But don't just wing it. Go into the loading phase with a plan. Otherwise, you may overdo it and feel heavy, sluggish and stuffed on race day. Instead, add approximately 30 grams of whole-food, long-lasting carbs to each of your three meals the day before the race. Examples of 30-gram carb add-ons include:

  • 8 ounces of milk with honey
  • 1 large piece fruit or 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 100-percent whole wheat English muffin or small bagel
  • 1/2 small bagel with 1 tablespoon low-fat cream cheese and 1 tablespoon honey or jam
  • 1 slice toast plus 1 tablespoon honey or jelly
  • 8 ounces of yogurt
  • 1 large yam/sweet potato
  • 2/3 cup cooked wild or brown rice
  • 2/3 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup whole-grain pasta

Next, consume about 1,200 milligrams of extra sodium throughout the day before your race. Use electrolyte drinks/supplements, pickle juice, pickles or simply add salt (1/2 teaspoon equals 1,200 milligrams of sodium). The vinegar in the pickle juice may reduce your risk of cramping on race day.

More: Why Balancing Sodium and Potassium Is Important

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About the Author

Kelli Jennings

Kelli Jennings, RD and sports nutritionist, is the owner of Apex Nutrition, LLC. Kelli helps athletes reach their weight goals and build strength, endurance and stamina. She teaches clients to eat for reduced inflammation, the best recovery and ongoing fueling needs as they push themselves to new levels. Like Kelli on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Kelli Jennings, RD and sports nutritionist, is the owner of Apex Nutrition, LLC. Kelli helps athletes reach their weight goals and build strength, endurance and stamina. She teaches clients to eat for reduced inflammation, the best recovery and ongoing fueling needs as they push themselves to new levels. Like Kelli on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

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