On marathon day, nutrition can make or break you. We spoke to Steve Vernon & Jonny Mellor from Team New Balance Manchester to find out what the pros do.

What does your pre race nutrition look like?

We keep the diet as normal as possible and don’t change too much. This is so they don’t get any stomach problems. So we keep it all healthy;rice, vegetables, pasta, lean meats like fish and chicken is what they stick to as a normal diet. During the day before we limit fibre as it could cause irritation on the morning. Some athlete suffer from nerves and they may not be taking quite enough food on board. One of the little tricks we have with Jonny for getting some calories down the day before, is he will have a big chocolate muffin or something, nothing crazy but we know we are getting another 400-500 kcal in between meals. In terms of OTE products, Jonny will have the Anytime Bars during the day before, probably have couple of them for snacks too to get his calories content high as possible.

On the day, Jonny will get up and have porridge with a banana, most of my athletes do that. Then Jonny will have a Duo Bar about 90 minutes before. We keep it simple, we optimise the carbohydrate stores. Hydration is absolutely key too.  When you’re nervous you sometimes forget the things you need to be doing so we make sure Jonny is fully hydrated. He will have 3 of the hydro tabs during the day before, even though he will probably only do a 4 mile jog that day. This makes sure his electrolyte balance is right. On the actual morning he will have 500ml of energy drink to sip throughout the morning as well as green tea. That’s Jonny secret, he isn’t a coffee man, he is a green tea man.

What Jonny uses on marathon day

Blackcurrant Hydro Tab


Hydro Tab
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Chocolate Duo Bar


Duo Bar
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Caramel Anytime Bar


Anytime Bar
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Blackcurrant Energy Gel


Energy Gel
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from £1.60
Orange Energy Drink Sachet


Energy Drink Sachet
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from £1.66 10% off Boxes

what happens during the race itself?

During most marathons, there are drink stations every 5km for the elites. So you can get your own personal drink at each station. Some athletes may put caffeine in a later station for example. I just keep it simple. I drink every 5km then I take an energy gel just before the start, then again at 10km, 20km, and 30km. Then it’s just hydro tabs that I use during the race with the gels.

I think you can over complicate it. I hear people have flat coke etc later in race but I know for me it works keeping it simple.

What are the biggest nutritional mistakes distance runners make?

I think a lot of it is being irrational in those last few days and reading stuff and changing they’ve already made. Get a routine, get it planned out and don’t differ from that. So many people in the last few days, try something new or change something they have set. It’s about keeping things simple. Just because Paula Radcliffe ate something the night before, why would you? Everyone is different so the big mistake is going completely out of routine because it’s marathon day, when actually it’s better keeping things simple and similar to what you do in training. That way you aren’t going to go far wrong.

For the OTE Marathon fuelling guide click here

Meet the Marathon Man Jonny Mellor
Read Article
Meet Steve Vernon: The Coach Behind Team New Balance Manchester
Read Article

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