5 Marathoners & What They're Eating Tonight — Spaghetti Ahead!

Whether you’re running or not, the energy surrounding tomorrow’s TCS New York City Marathon is infectious. And, energy is exactly what the runners need to carry them across the finish line — and all 26.2 miles before it.
Training is only part of the game-day strategy; nutrition plays a huge role as well, and that includes the night-before meal. “The most important part about eating before a marathon,” says Brooke Alpert, MS, RD, CDN, founder of B Nutritious, “is to never try something new on race day, or the night before.” Marathons are no time to wing it. “You want to make sure whatever meals and food options you are eating are all something that will agree with you and make you feel good while you run the following day,” Alpert adds. Common troublemakers in this department include high-fiber foods (which, for some runners, can lead to digestive discomfort and stomach cramping) and high-sugar options (which can cause some major GI distress).
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So, what exactly are tomorrow’s runners eating? Carbs, carbs, and more carbs. Read on for pre-race nutrition tips and the meals that five marathoners (from pros to first-timers) are going to eat tonight — plus, what’s on the menu for the New York Road Runner’s Marathon Eve Dinner.
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Illustration By Elliot Salazar.
Name: Tammy Tibbetts
Age: 28
Home: NYC
Running status: "I run for endorphins and my sanity."
Number of marathons completed: First-timer.
Running for charity: She's the First.
Night-before-race meal: "Before my long runs, I usually go to Dig Inn and order a large plate packed with whole grains, tofu, and vegetables like sweet potato and chickpeas. This is more flavorful to me than just a big bowl of pasta, and while I'm not technically a vegetarian, I love tofu and vegetables over any type of meat. I also start drinking Vitamin Water the night before to keep me hydrated. The advice I keep getting is: Don't try any sort of 'new' nutrition on race day. So, I'm going to stick to these foods that have gotten me through my long runs successfully."

Alpert’s Take: She commends Tibbetts: "I love the whole grains and the healthy carbohydrates. The sweet potato and chickpeas are a perfect night-before meal!"
2 of 6
Illustration By Elliot Salazar.
Name: Lauren Kleppin
Age: 25
Home: California
Running status: American distance runner and 2016 Olympic hopeful.
Number of marathons completed: First time running NYC, ran a 2:28:48 at the L.A. Marathon earlier this year.
Night-before-race meal: "I’m still learning. I used to self-coach and would eat things like salad and salmon before a race. There was one time I had a Greek salad before a race and was burping onions along the entire course — I didn’t want to eat red onions again for a year. Now, I work with ASICS running coach Andrew Kastor and he has me eating things that sit well the next day, including rice and chicken. Bland, simple, and something with substance is what we want...Nothing new, and nothing spicy."

Alpert’s Take: "It’s so easy to think that more is better. The rice and chicken are proving great carbohydrate sources and easy-to-digest protein to help repair her muscles."
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Illustration By Elliot Salazar.
Name: Alison Feller
Age: 29
Home: NYC
Running status: For fun
Number of marathons completed: "Four. Tomorrow will be my fifth, and my second New York City Marathon (I also ran it in 2013)."
Night-before-race meal: "A few years ago, my boyfriend went on a trip to Italy (without me!). He came back and tried to recreate his favorite dish from the trip. It's simple and light without any heavy sauce, and has since become my night-before-a-big-race staple... I have Crohn's disease, so I have to be really careful with what I eat. Anything green or leafy or fibrous will destroy me before and during the race, so I stick with what I've tested: No salad. No corn. Never, ever corn. I won't do whole-wheat pasta, even if people tell me it's better for me. The plain white stuff digests the easiest and makes me the happiest, so that's what I roll with. This recipe...includes rigatoni, cubed pancetta, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt, and cracked black pepper.

"I make sure to eat fairly early the night before a race — usually around 6 p.m. — so I have time to digest a bit before I crawl into bed. I'm also careful not to over-stuff myself. It's tempting to load up on delicious, heavy carbs, but then I'll wake up the next morning feeling full and bloated, which isn't conducive to spending four hours on my feet. I need to eat just enough to feel satisfied without having to unbutton my pants."

Alpert’s Take: "This is why it’s so important to know your body and what works best for you. Anyone with an inflammatory bowel condition needs to be tapped into how food makes their system feel."
4 of 6
Illustration By Elliot Salazar.
Name: Alyssa Shulman
Age: 27
Home: NYC
Running status: "I am a recreational runner — running is my way of staying in shape and clearing my head."
Number of marathons completed: "I ran NYC last year, and this will be my second marathon."
Are you running for a charity?: "Yes, the amazing Boston Children's Hospital's Miles for Miracles team."
Night-before-race meal: "The night before the marathon, I will go for a large pasta dinner with my family...I drink lots of water, have a few pieces of bread from the bread basket, a salad to start (preferably kale), and then a very bland, but filling pasta dish. I tend to go with homemade pasta with fresh tomato sauce, basil, and a little bit of melted mozzarella. I try not to have too much dairy the night before, and definitely no cream or meat sauces. I will have also one or two squares of Hershey's special dark chocolate before I go to bed.

"For the two weeks leading up to the marathon (or any half marathon) I cut out any alcoholic beverages and drink as much water as humanly possible. I also drink a lot of water with Emergen-C mixed in to fight off anything that may try and work its way into my system. The week leading up to the marathon, I am a huge believer in carbo-loading — ever since I ran cross-country and track in high school, I always had a large pasta dinner the night before every race. So, at this point, beyond giving me the extra energy boost I will need on race day, it is also a little personal tradition."

Alpert’s Take: "I love that she starts cutting out the alcohol. It’s really smart to start as early as possible — and two weeks in advance is great."
5 of 6
Illustration By Elliot Salazar.
Name: Kathryn Harvey
Age: 32
Home: NYC
Running status: Running for fun and charity.
Number of marathons completed: Three marathons (the Philadelphia marathon twice and NYC once).
Are you running for a charity? "This year, I'll be racing with a dedicated team of over 95 runners on behalf of Autism Speaks. [Our team's] fundraising...provides newly diagnosed families with much-needed support resources."
Night-before-race meal: "I eat grilled chicken or salmon with a little lemon and butter, mashed sweet potatoes, and quinoa with red grapes and cucumber the night before — and I don’t make any of it; Fairway is my chef. As it turns out, pasta and bagels are not my friends. I just started eating healthy before big races this past summer, when I was training for the NYC triathlon — I realized what a difference it makes for my energy levels. I know it’s not typically recommended, but I always have a beer or a glass of wine with my pre-race meal. It usually helps with race jitters, and why change your usual routine right before a big event?"

Alpert’s Take: "It’s so easy for people to turn to bagels and pasta when they think of carb-loading before a race. Sweet potatoes and quinoa are a perfect pre-race meal. As for the beer, if it works for Kathryn, then great, but I’d prefer if she saved it for a post-race treat."
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Illustration By Elliot Salazar.
Name: The NYRR Marathon Eve Dinner
What: A ticketed event, the NYRR hosts a night-before dinner. “The Marathon Eve Dinner is the perfect place for runners to fuel up before their big race on Sunday,” explains Chris Weiller, Vice President, Media & Public Relations at NYRR. “The menu is comprised of a variety of popular pre-race food items, including a healthy mix of protein, carbohydrates, fruit, and vegetables, sure to satisfy the palate of any one of our many runners.”

Here’s what they are serving tonight:
Baby arugala
Grana Padano cheese
Grape tomatoes
Focaccia croutons
Truffle vinaigrette
Grilled breast of chicken primavera
Whole wheat penne pasta
Baked mezzi rigatoni
Local, farm-fresh ricotta cheese
San Marzano marinara sauce
Shaved pecorino Romano cheese
NY state McIntosh apples
Coors Light
Poland Spring water
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