First of all, you should be eating and taking in carbs during your long runs when you are out there for more than 1½ hours. Under that time, you are basically using what has been stored up in your muscles previously. A great way to get carbs during your runs is through Sports Drinks or Energy Gels. You can even get Sports Jelly Beans little Energy Bites. All of these work – and some runners even eat gummy bears or other candies. But, you want to try anything during your training runs – not the day of your race. Find out what works for you and gives you energy and have it with you for race day.
The most important rule of eating leading up to race day is to not eat anything that you are not accustomed to eating. Carbs are important for energy on race day. You should be eating meals that are high in carbs during this time to be fueling up. Also important is to get some protein during this time. Another thing that you want to stay away from during the few days before the marathon is anything high in fiber or any food that you know gives you gas or any stomach distress.
Some good things to eat are pasta, bread, cereal, pizza, bagels.
Two days before the marathon is when you really want to make sure that you are getting fueled up. This may be the day of your big “carbo-loading” meal. Also, two days before you want to be making sure that you are drinking water throughout the day to start getting properly hydrated and getting a good night’s sleep.
The day before race day you want to make sure that you are still drinking water and eating some complex carbohydrates. This day about 75% of your calories should be from carbs. You should have your normal 3 meals plus a few snacks throughout the day. You should be finished with your last meal around 6:00 so that it can be digested before you go to bed.
On race morning you should have your meal about 1 – 1½ hours before race start. This should be something to get you fueled for the race – but nothing big or heavy. It should include carbs and a little protein. My suggestion is a power bar – that always works for me! Other suggestions are cereal, oatmeal or a bagel with peanut butter. Just make sure that whatever you eat is something that you have eaten prior to running in the past. It is important that you don’t experiment on race day.