Everything You Need to Know About Marathon Fueling with Holley Samuel MEd, RD, CPT

Proper training can help prepare you to run 26.2 miles, but when you’re running that far, nutrition can ultimately make or break your performance. Learn how to fuel properly and set yourself up for success on race day!

When you’re training to race a marathon, there are many factors that contribute to your success. Training is a key piece, of course, as is strength and mobility work. But the longer the race, the more nutrition and fueling matters. While you can run a 5k or 10k on minimal fuel, 26.2 miles is simply too long and unforgiving to botch your nutrition.

Learning how to fuel properly before, during and after your run is a bit of an art form that requires experimentation and practice. Every runner is different, and no matter how similar you may be to your training partner when it comes to performance, chances are you may have very different nutritional preferences.

If you’re feeling clueless about nutrition, you’re not alone. Fortunately there are knowledgeable people who can help! Sports nutritionists have become more prevalent in recent years as we’ve learned the importance of eating for performance, and runners are seeking their help more often.

Holley Samuel on Marathon Fueling

My guest on the podcast this week is Holley Samuel, a Registered Dietitian who also happens to be a Boston Marathon Qualifier. She has a Master’s in Health Education and is a Certified Personal trainer, who also happens to own a cookie company. Clearly she knows how to maintain a balance when eating for both joy and health!

Holley and I explore the ins and outs of marathon nutrition, including carb-loading before the race, your pre-race breakfast, mid-race fueling, and eating for recovery. Since the human body only stores enough carbohydrate for about two hours of exercise, getting properly fueled for the marathon is essential if you want to improve your performance.

Holley and I tackle a wide variety of marathon nutrition questions, including the following (and much more):

  • Is carb loading important?  What’s the right way to go about it?
  • What factors impact the amount of carbohydrates we can store?  (It might not be what you think)
  • How many grams of carbohydrates do you need?  And what’s the best way to get them in?
  • How do you practice carb loading in training?
  • What’s the best way to fuel on race day? Is it ok to rely on what the race offers?
  • How can you improve recovery with both mid- and post-race nutrition?

No matter what your level of expertise, Holley Samuel shares her wisdom in a practical and accessible way for everyone.

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Thank You InsideTracker!


This episode is brought to you by InsideTracker, one of the most reputable blood testing companies in the world. They were founded in 2009 by aging, genetics, and biometrics scientists to help you analyze your body’s data and get a firm idea of how well you’re responding to training.

Understanding your body’s biomarkers, from stress hormones to testosterone to Vitamin D, can help you figure out if you’re over-training, under-training, optimally training, or if you have a health issue that might be affecting your running. But the best part is that they give you personalized optimal ranges for each of these biomarkers and a host of ways to improve these markers through diet, lifestyle, or exercise changes.

I’ve personally gotten three Ultimate tests from them and the process is simple, easy, and very eye-opening if you haven’t done a deep dive on your biomarkers yet.  Of all the investments you can make in your running, this one is like getting a detailed checkup or regularly scheduled maintenance for your internal physiology. 

If you’re ready to take control of your health and optimize your training, get 25% off any of their blood tests with code STRENGTHRUNNING at InsideTracker.

Thank you REVEL Race Series!

We’re also supported this week by REVEL Race Series. REVEL races are an incredibly fast, downhill, and scenic series of marathons and half marathons that take place in a variety of beautiful U.S. locations. Their next race takes runners from the canyons of the Wasatch Mountains to the foothills of Salt Lake City, Utah on September 10th for the 10-year anniversary of REVEL Big Cottonwood. 

Featuring a speedy downhill course and amazing mountain views, this race will be sure to help you set your PR and finally hit that Boston Qualifying time as it is the fastest marathon and half marathon in the state of Utah. In fact, it has more than 5,200 feet of elevation loss that can help propel you to a shiny new PR!

REVEL in speed. REVEL in beauty. REVEL in Big Cottonwood. Register at REVEL. And don’t wait – there’s a price increase on July 13th so I hope you take advantage of that and the benefits of running with gravity.

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