The Philadelphia Marathon Munchies

Who knew that marathon training involved so much ... eating?

Jane Morley // Photo by Zoey Sless-Kitain

I’m training for the November 21st Philadelphia Marathon for the second year in a row, and like last year, I’ve relished in the accomplishment of logging many miles — over the course of four months, I’ve logged about 400 miles, averaging roughly 30 miles per week — gutting it out during the late summer heat and humidity, and relishing the satisfaction of my physical accomplishments. I’ve remembered what a treat it is to watch the leaves change out on the roads. I’ve enjoyed sleeping like a baby — a really, really tired baby.

Another thing I’ve done is eaten. A lot. And I don’t remember eating this much my last time preparing for 26.2. At some point in September, about two months into my training program, I realized that refueling after my runs seemed to take as much time as did my actual runs. (An exaggeration, yes, but it sure felt this way!) It was around that time that I noticed I’d developed a habit of buying a pumpkin scone on my morning Starbucks visit, downing the thing in what felt like seconds flat, and feeling my tummy grumbling but two hours later. Granted, a 480-calorie fat-and-sugar bomb is hardly ideal running fuel — but I realized that in order to train well and feel my best, I had to accept that I was just going to be hungrier than usual, that I ought to keep an eye on my training calendar when planning my meals, and that (most of) what I consume should be nutritious, whole foods.

Like many runners, I’ve worried about and tried to avoid putting on excess pounds while training. It can be a slippery slope from I need to eat enough to keep up with my training to Hey, I’m running a marathon! I can eat whatever I want! But for the most part, I’ve tried to bring a few extra snacks with me to work—fresh veggies and fruit, Greek yogurt, pretzel sticks, a snack-baggie’s worth of cereal—and eaten slightly larger meals on the days when I need extra energy. (In the schedule I’m following, a modified Hal Higdon Novice program, my longer runs are on Wednesdays and Saturdays.)

Of course, now that I’ve gotten used to the idea of eating more, the taper (the final three weeks before the marathon when runners dial back their mileage to be fresh and rested come race day),  is upon us and I have to wonder whether I’ll keep eating at the same rate even as I dial back on my mileage — and whether that’s even a bad thing. Because while I’d rather not feel bloated in these final weeks, I know that fueling well during the taper is just as important to staying healthy as cutting back on my miles and getting extra sleep. (And I keep reminding myself of the tons of calories I’ll torch in the race itself!)

So, am I the only one? Or are you prepping for the marathon, tapering and hungry, too? Have you started inhaling just about everything edible in sight or do you have a battle plan to survive the next few weeks without piling on excess pounds?  Tell us about it in the comments!

Check back next week when Jane shares her Marathon Morning Breakfast Plan.