Training for a Half Marathon

Learn how to get ready for your race.

Beginner’s Guide to Fueling During Your Half Marathon Beginner’s Guide to Fueling During Your Half Marathon

Running a half marathon requires great strength, dedication and ample preparation especially if you are a beginner. Running non-stop for 13.1 miles can be quite demanding for the body. Unfortunately, some runners do not see the need to prepare enough which explains the large number of runners who do not make to the mid-way point, let alone the finish line. If you are interested in completing a half marathon without taking your body to the extremes by depleting all the stored energy, you might consider using tips that will help you fuel up during your half marathon race.


Prior to jumping into any type of marathon, you need to understand the competition wholly. It is important to research on the route of the race, the number of participants, and the rules and regulations of the marathon. You should then plan all your training sessions according to the specifics of the race. Don’t neglect the weather and the altitude as they are some of the factors that can affect your running. Heat will have a huge impact on your fueling plan during your race. Training can be handled alone but for better results, it is crucial to seek the consultancy of a professional trainer especially where a win or personal best time is desired.

Fueling During The Marathon

The body requires a lot of energy reserves when you participate in physically demanding activities. For this reason, all half-marathoners should identify the best foods that they can use to fuel their body in preparation for, and during the marathon.

The Night Before

You should keep to the menu you were following during the training period. The menu should contain foods that enhance the storage of glycogen which is essential in fueling the race. You should have a balanced meal that contains between 50 and 60% complex carbohydrates such as quinoa, squash, fruits and vegetables, 30% fats and the rest of the percentage should contain lean proteins such as tofu, shellfish, pork tenderloin, and chicken. As part of proper fueling, you should stay away from high-fiber foods the night before the marathon.

The Marathon Morning

To be on the safe side, breakfast is crucial and should be taken 2 to 4 hours prior to taking part in the race. Breakfast should comprise of familiar foods which need be easy for the body to digest. Some of the combinations that can prove helpful are milk, fruits and oatmeal, yogurt and fruits, or fruits and bagels with peanut butter. Another crucial thing to include in the race morning is enough hydration. Intense running will trigger a lot of sweating and to prepare the body for that, you might consider taking 16 to 24 ounces of water 2 hours prior to the start of the marathon and an additional 8 ounces about 30 minutes before the start.

Some runners hesitate to drink enough prior to the race due to fear of having to go to the bathroom during the first few miles. One look at the porta-potty line, and you might have second thoughts. But this can be a huge mistake: especially on a hot day, your body will sweat out a lot of water in the first few miles. It’s better to make a quick pit-stop a few miles in than suffer through the effects of dehydration later.

During The Marathon

Runner Drinking from Water Bottle

Don’t forget to hydrate by drinking plenty of water before and during your half marathon.

In addition to the intense training you have been using to prepare for the half marathon and the nutritional plans, you should have a strategy to fuel during the race to give your body energy sources on the go. In general, your body will require about 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates each hour of a long race. You can test the needs of your body by spreading the 30 grams in one hour and if you get exhausted after taking that amount, then you can increase it by a few grams. This can be done during training such that when the marathon comes, you will already have the right amount of fuel your body needs for a smooth race.

For great results, you can use sports drinks, various types of foods such as blocks, gels, or banana bites for the fuel. The aim of the food is provide the body with sources that can be converted to glycogen fast. The glycogen can then be converted to the energy which will fuel your strides to the finish line.


As you run, your body will get rid of the toxins that are created during the conversion of food to energy and in the process a lot of water will be lost through sweating. This is why hydration is an integral part of proper fueling during a half marathon. It is in your best interest to determine your sweat rate prior to the marathon.  This can be achieved by simply weight yourself before running for a preset distance and time period. You should then weigh yourself to figure out the amount of water you have lost. If you ran for 30 minutes, the difference in weight multiplied by 2 is your per hour sweat rate. This will help you in planning your hydration during the race. Keep in mind that drinking a lot of water at once might compromise your ability to run as fast as you should. It

You should train intensively to prepare your body physically for the extreme activity. If you are a beginner, you might want to prepare emotionally and mentally for the motivation needed to take part and actually finish the race. Always improve on your goals each training session and you will have it relatively easy during the half marathon.

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