ask the nutritionist: marathon nutrition I

You’ve probably noticed by now that it is officially race season. If you haven’t…get outside!

That’s not to say that I’m running in a race, but I happen to know a few who are. :) So when Mary from Fit This Girl asked for a bit of nutrition advice regarding her upcoming marathon in May, I knew I could probably help out a few runners this race season! She’s a personal trainer and coach – so if you have running questions – ask her!

Good nutrition is essential for peak performance and since hydration is just as important as food, I thought I would start there!

Why hydrate?

  • helps produce energy
  • helps cool your body down
  • helps to transport important nutrients throughout the body
  • acts as a cushion – remember our body is made up of a LOT of water
  • protects you from becoming dehydrated

When to hydrate?

  • drink before, during and after activity
  • urine should be pale and almost colorless (the things Nutritionists have to talk about ;))
  • signs of dehydration: fatigue, flushed skin, increased body temperature
  • you can also weigh yourself before and after to make sure you are replacing lost fluids

What to hydrate with?

  • water
  • coconut water
  • watered down juice (important to note that this will not replace lost sodium)
  • sports drinks (with about 6-8% carbohydrates – the glucose in sports drinks is fuel that can be used immediately and the electrolytes replace sodium levels)
  • this may seem obvious, but NO SODA! drinks with too much sugar take longer to absorb and can cause cramps, nausea, etc.

How to hydrate during training runs/race day:

  • take water or drinks with you on long runs in a camel back, water belts, etc.
  • plan water breaks during training runs
  • take advantage of water stops during race

**Remember to try out various drinks, methods, etc. during training and not on race day! You never know what your body will or won’t like!

Up Next:

  • How to Eat
  • Sample Meal Plan

What’s the longest race you’ve ever participated in? I’ve done two half-marathons back in 2007 (?) but go through on and off running phases (currently off but Spring always changes that a bit. :))

What are your hydration tips?


  1. Kristin Selander says

    I am excited to see your two other installments on this topic. I have done two marathons, three half-marathons and other races of various lengths. I think another important point is to train with whichever kind of fluid you are going to use on the big day (at least that seemed to work for me).

  2. says

    One thing I do as well is drink plenty of water all day long — especially they day before a long run. That way I wake up already hydrated and I don’t have to chug a ton of water before my run.

  3. Lori@fakefoodfree says

    Gearing up for my second half in a couple weeks and my husband runs marathons. Great topic for this time of year. The Nathan tabs you dissolve in water are great bc they don’t add sugar just electrolytes. We also go for the dry Gatorade bc it doesn’t contain HFCS. I steer clear of fruit juice unless it’s post race due to the fructose and stomach cramping. I know the soda is sometimes popular with the ultra crowd, but that is a whole different ball game. :) Looking forward to your food post!

  4. Christine says

    Loving this post series! I’m training to do my first half-marathon and am hovering around that point in my long run distance where I need to start fuelling mid-run to keep going. I have 9 miles coming up on Saturday morning!

    • Emily says

      Good for you Christine! I hope the long run goes well!
      I really liked those sport beans (sporty jelly beans) – have you ever tried them?

      • Christine says

        Thanks! I’m a little freaked about it! I haven’t tried those, thanks for the tip! I am just wading into the world of gels, beans, drinks, and pills. It’s a bit bewildering!

  5. says

    although i won’t be doing any type of jogging this summer with a babe on the way, i’ll definitely be outside taking nice long walks. i think your hydration tips are still valid, no? and coconut water is something i have been meaning to try! sounds delicious!

  6. says

    Great tips. I’ve been wanting to do a post on water and hydration for awhile now because it’s yet another thing I struggle with.

    I have a question for you – I have trouble drinking water so I add a reduced amount of those crystal light packets to my water during the day. I know it’s better to drink straight up water but I find I get more water in when adding the flavor. Is this okay? Would love to know your thoughts on this!


    • Emily says

      Well, I’m not a huge fan of Crystal Light, but I think they have a new natural version that I’ve heard really good things about!
      I also recently tried Celestial Tea “Sweet Zinger Ice – Acai Mango” that I think tastes eerily similar to Crystal Light but it is sweetened with stevia. I would try that one!

  7. says

    I”m training for my first marathon this fall…working my way through some triathlons for the summer. I have heard that chia seeds help with hydration in endurance athletes as well. I can’t remember the science, but I have added them into my day.

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