5 Secrets for Successful Marathon Fueling


Hammer Peak Performance tip: You've trained diligently all season, tweaked and fine-tuned your fueling plan during your workouts, and "refilled the tank" with quality fuel after every workout and race. Now, with the season's biggest events on the horizon, you're eager to capitalize on every possible race day advantage. A winning formula will include smart dietary choices and proper race day fueling withHammer Gel, HEED, Perpetuem, and/or Sustained Energy.

We've developed the following Hammer-exclusive strategies over the course of nearly three decades, and thousands of successful athletes have proven that they work. Follow these fueling secrets to achieve your best possible race day performance - and possibly even finish with a personal record.

1. Days leading up to the race: Stay the course with water and sodium. Attempting to "front load" water or sodium is ineffective and counterproductive.

  • Continue to consume roughly 0.5-0.6 ounces per pound of your body weight, daily. If you haven't been drinking this much, don't start now. You will overwhelm your body with fluid.
  • Also do not consume extra sodium (salt) before your race. Taking in too much sodium can disrupt your body's natural ability to regulate and conserve this mineral, resulting in cramping, weakness, or worse on race day.

2. Night before the race: Eat right, then call it a night. Attempting to "carbo-load" by stuffing yourself with large quantities of food the night before the race doesn't work. You've already maximized your muscle glycogen by replenishing with quality fuel (Recoverite) after your workouts throughout the season, and you can't add to those glycogen stores now. The night before the race, consume a low- sodium meal that consists of complex carbohydrates, some high-quality protein, and little or no saturated fat. Drink sufficient amounts of water, and skip alcohol, fatty foods, and dessert... save those "rewards" for after the race.

3. Morning of the race: Eat a 300- to 400-calorie prerace meal; be sure to finish it 3 hours prior to the race. Your prerace meal should consist mostly of carbohydrates along with a small amount of quality protein (for example, one banana and one cup of plain yogurt; OR Cream of Rice cereal topped with one serving of Hammer Gel; OR half a skinless baked potato topped with half a cup of plain yogurt). Avoid high-fiber foods, simple sugars, and fat.

It's critical that you finish your meal 3 hours before the race start. Remember that the first fuel your body will use when the race begins is the muscle glycogen you've stored up in training through your post-workout refueling. Eating a prerace meal 1-2 hours prior to the race will cause your body to burn through its finite stores of glycogen more rapidly, and decrease its ability to use body fats efficiently for fuel.

4. Minutes before the race: Take Endurolytes, supplements, and a little fuel.

  • 30-45 minutes before: Take a preemptive dose of Endurolytes capsules or Fizz to provide electrolytes for the first hour of the race. If you are taking additional supplements, such as Race Caps Supreme, Endurance Amino, or Anti-Fatigue Caps, take them now too.
  • About 5 minutes before: Consume 1 serving of Hammer Gel. This will top off liver glycogen stores nicely and provide some calories to augment muscle glycogen stores.

5. Fueling during your race: 150-180 calories of complex carbohydrates; include protein if racing 3 hours or longer.

  • If your race is in the 2-2.5 hour range, your fuel can be complex carbs only, meaning "regular" (no protein-containing)Hammer Gel or HEED.
  • If your race will be closer to 3 hours or longer, you have several fueling options available. You can use: 1) Sustained Energyor Perpetuem as your primary-to-sole fuel; 2) ultra Hammer Gel (Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter-Chocolate, or Nocciola), which contain complex carbohydrates and a small amount of protein - as your sole fuel; or 3) a combination of a "carb only" fuel (regular Hammer Gel or HEED) plus Perpetuem Solids.

Note: If your race is still a couple of months out, we advise testing these fueling options under a variety of conditions. This will give you the greatest potential for success come race day. Refer to Hammer Nutrition's Product Usage Manual for hourly dosage suggestions.

Beginning around that second hour mark of exercise and beyond, a small percentage of your energy will come from protein. If you don't provide some of that protein from your fuel mix, your body will cannibalize its own lean muscle tissue to obtain the necessary amino acids. This increases ammonia, a primary culprit in premature fatigue during endurance events.

In addition, hydrate regularly by consuming about 20-25 ounces of water per hour, and replenish electrolytes regularly, using Endurolytes capsules or Fizz.

Put these five strategies into action for your next marathon or other endurance race for a true performance edge. Also, please remember that we have a skilled team of client advisors ready to help you dial in your fuel and supplement program. We're just a phone call or email away!