Pure Physio Blog

The perfect race day diet. Join Pure Physio in Half-Marathon Training!

Published on
11 Apr 2016

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Wondering what to eat and drink during a half- marathon? Not to worry – we’ve got you covered with the recipe for success. All it takes is three simple steps.

“Bonking” is the colloquial term used to describe the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles. It might not sound too threatening, but it’s definitely not something you want to experience.

That’s because glycogen is your muscles’ fuel. Without adequate supplies, even the most experienced runners will experience sudden and significant fatigue and loss of energy. Essentially, your body starts shutting down. This can quickly progress to muscle cramps, GI distress and even mental confusion.

So how do you avoid the dreaded ‘bonk’? Good nutrition is key! Below are our race day tips to make sure that you’re flying through to the finish line, with glycogen stores intact.


1. Eat breakfast!

Unfortunately, yes, this does mean you may have to get up early on race day! Aim to eat approximately three hours prior to race time, to refuel any glycogen stores that have been depleted overnight. Make sure you experiment in the lead up to the race – find out what types of foods suit you best before running. Some popular choices are toast, muesli bars, banana, fruit toast and cereal. Find out what works for you, and fuel up before you hit the track.


2. Stay hydrated!

Dehydration will significantly impact upon running performance as it reduces blood volume, which results in less oxygen-rich blood reaching your muscles.

Oxygen is essential for energy production. Therefore, less oxygen means less energy, which makes for a slower running pace.

Additionally, dehydration will hamper your ability to maintain your core body temperature. This can result in heat stroke. Keep your fluids up and you’ll go a long way towards keeping your energy levels high throughout the full race.


3. Refuel throughout the run.

Refuelling is essential in preventing the mid-race ‘bonk’. For a half marathon, we recommend ingesting one gel/snack within the first hour, and then again every 30-45 minutes until the race is completed. As a general rule of thumb, avoid eating and drinking a sports drink at the same time. This will generally lead to a rapid (and unwanted) spike in blood sugar. Instead, alternate your intake of water, sports drinks and foods.

Gels are an easily digestible option for foods that will enable you to maintain glycogen stores. Whatever you choose, make sure that you test the foods you wish to consume and how much you need to eat, prior to race day.

And don’t forget – if you are taking gels in a concentrated energy form, remember to dilute them with water.


The one golden rule of running a distance event is to avoid trying something new on race day – tried and tested methods are always the best. Try out a couple of different food and fuel combinations over your next few long runs and determine what works best for you!


This week’s training program:

  • Tuesday, April 12th Fartlek/Interval

    Warm up x 10 mins (2km), 8 x 2 mins (1 min recovery), cool down (3km)

    = 8km

  • Thursday, April 14th Fartlek/Interval

    Easy 8km jog

    = 8km

  • Saturday, April 16th Hills/Tempo

    Warm up x 15 mins (3km), 3 x 5 mins tempo, 4 x 30 seconds (fast/jog), cool down (3km)

    = 9km

  • Sunday, April 17th Long Run

    = 20km


          Week total: 45km


So, try out a couple of different pre-run meal schedules over the next few weeks and find your perfect fuel. Remember to check back next week for our next training program and keep up the good work!

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