Runners are all different. Our bodies and stomachs all handle things differently. The only thing I can say with CERTAINTY is that you without a doubt NEED to eat breakfast the morning of a marathon.  I do not eat breakfast before any long runs, yet I would NEVER skip a morning meal race day.

There is a HUGE difference between 20 miles and 26.2 miles. Your body needs to be fueled prior to the starting line in order for you to make it to the finish line strong.

I have found that the magic combination for me race morning is Udi’s Gluten Free Bread, toasted with peanut butter on top. I drizzle it with honey for some natural sugar and some yummy sweetness. This breakfast is great for me because it combines, natural fats, protein, natural sugar, and carbohydrates – no gluten and no dairy. I do not eat any fruit before the race because I do not want the extra bit of fiber race morning.

I typically aim to eat my breakfast at least 3 to occasionally 4 hours before the race start. For a 7:30 race start this is VERY early. What I used to do prior to finding out I had a gluten sensitivity was set an alarm for 4 hours before the race and roll over and eat a granola bar I had set next to my bed the night before, when the alarm went off. A bagel with peanut butter on it would be another great bedside option. I then would go back to sleep and eat the rest of my breakfast when I got up.

I also start drinking water and nuun right away when I wake up. I stop drinking water at least 1:30 prior to the race start so my kidney’s have time to get rid of all the excess water/etc. I do not want to enter the race with a full bladder – I’ve made that mistake before and let me tell you it’s not fun when you already feel like you need to GO in mile 1.

Lastly remember that you need to be HYDRATING this week. Do not start this process on Saturday – if you have not yet started – start now. Seriously…..go get a glass of water now!

What do you typically eat marathon morning? Would you recommend it to others?


  1. shiawaselife says:

    I love the new layout! And i REALLLLY appreciate all these marathon posts because my first one is coming up 11/12!! =D

  2. Karen the "Hungry Mom" says:

    hey im eating udis toast right now! topped with spinach and a fried egg and chicken apple sausage. oh wait this isnt a food blog right? haha ok…bagel with sunflower seed butter works for me, i like the idea of drizzling honey also, will try that

  3. {lifeasa}RunningMom says:

    Love it! It is a hard thing for me to factor in for my longer races. The half's and full's here typically start at 5:30 am or 6:00 am. I try to get up as early as possible to eat and drink.

  4. Run with Jess says:

    I'm totally with you on the toast and PB if it's available. Sometimes traveling for races throws things off, but I've found as long as I keep the breakfast light, my tummy is good. A good nutrition bar works for me too.

  5. says:

    i never eat before a LR, whether it's 22 miles or 13 miles. i always eat before a race though, since there is generally so much lag time between the time you get up and the time the gun goes off. PB on wheat bread every time!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. Please keep the advice coming. I'm freaking out about my first marathon (MCM) this week!


  7. Carly D. @ CarlyBananas says:

    Knowing what to eat before races is so hard for me. I've been having a hard time trying to figure it out. I ate a bagel before the Baltimore Half and it went really well – I think because I ate so early (we had to be parked by 7:45 but the half didn't start until 9:45). I'm going to try your idea about keeping something by the bed next time.
    PS. I love how your site looks!

  8. Audrey J. says:

    My favorite is cottage cheese with almonds and pineapple, but I eat it at least 2 hours before start time. I eat an apple with my coffee about 3 hours prior so it goes through me before…if you know what I mean. :)

    Thanks for these posts!! Loving the new look, too.

  9. Andrea (Run. Learn. Repeat.) says:

    I just discovered Udi's gluten free bread and I love it. I've been eating something similar to you before long runs, except I usually use rice cakes instead of the bread because we don't have a store close by that carries Udi's GF bread. I'm planning to have my PB and honey before my half marathon this Saturday.

  10. I am just totally absorbing all you r posts at the moment, I'm running my first ever marathon in April and I'm poop'ing myself already ;-). So no advice to part with but loving all I read, thank you

  11. Stephanie says:

    I eat an English muffin with PB and a Banana. I start drinking right away too. Some nuun and some water. MCM is late in my mind. Usually for a long run i wake up at 5 and eat and am running by 630. For this, I am not sure what to do. I am thinking of trying to eat 2 hours before. Do you know what time we actually cross the start line though? I might add in a granola bar early as soon as I wake up and then go with the PB and EM two hours before…see i am still trying to work this out. meanwhile, besides before, what do you during?

  12. Kristin Miller says:

    I eat a clif bar or peanut butter toast and a banana. I am so glad you said you never eat before long runs but you do for the race. I'm going to be in the same boat at NYC 11/6! My start time is 10:40 (UGGHHHH!) So I'm going to have to bring a second serving I think??? (I'll be waiting on Staten Island for THREE HOURS!)

  13. I try to stick what's worked — generally a Clif bar and a banana with peanut butter nearly 2 hours before the race.

  14. Wendy from Udi's says:

    Thanks for including our bread in your pre-run breakfast Dorothy! I'm a runner myself and this is one of my favorite pre-run meals as well. Thanks again for sharing.

  15. Just picked up some Udi's and tried the PB and honey. SOOO good!! Thanks Dorothy for the advice.

  16. Finallyfit2011 says:

    THANK U! This was very helpful to me as I am coming up on taper week!

  17. Rebecca Samson says:

    I can't stomach much pre-run or race. I have a little bit of cereal upon waking or on the way to the race and that is it. Works well since I can fuel on my run. I make sure though to eat a really good dinner the night before.

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