Uta's Daily Tips

Uta's marathon training tip of the day: Focus on carbs, eat small amounts throughout day

April 17, 2014 at 4:06 PM ET

Uta Pippig is a marathon legend, the first woman to win three consecutive Boston marathons. As TODAY's Natalie Morales prepares to attempt her sixth marathon, and first run in Boston, on April 21, Pippig will be sharing her daily training tips with TODAY.com. Here's her seventh one:

Dear Boston Marathon Runners and Dear Natalie,

Keeping your focus on nutrition is important for the remaining time before your marathon. It is best to eat nutritious, preferably freshly-prepared food—and something you eat on a regular basis. Concentrate on food high in carbohydrates and eat in small amounts throughout the day. Scientific research shows this is the most efficient way to carbo-load, slowly storing glycogen, the preferred source of fuel for the marathon. By eating less food on a more frequent basis—I recommend six small meals throughout the day—you also may reduce bloating and other problems associated with a large meal. For both of these reasons, eating a huge meal the night before the marathon is not a good idea.

Pasta is the favorite dish of many endurance athletes, and my favorite too. Sandwiches and whole-grain toast are fine, as well as lentil soup. I recommend muesli and oatmeal, which are both high-carbohydrate foods that are slow to digest and will fill you up while being easy on your stomach. You can always grab a banana or an apple in-between your meals. And if you usually eat meat, it is okay to have a little during these final days, but remember that what you really need for your marathon are carbohydrates.

Uta Pippig
Tim DeFrisco
Uta Pippig recommends that marathon runners load up on high carb pre-race foods such as pasta and oatmeal.

Another key part of your nutritional program is efficient hydration: start drinking small amounts of water hourly the day before your marathon.

And, as with your training and equipment, please make it your first basic rule to avoid trying anything new. That is because you might not know how your body will react. I will be back with a few nutritional suggestions for your race morning. Bon appétit!

Natalie Morales is running the Boston marathon to raise money for The One Fund, which supports victims of the 2013 Boston marathon bombing and their families, and the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which helps people with disabilities remain active in sports. Learn more and donate on Natalie's Crowdrise page. 

Uta Pippig won the Boston Marathon three times, the New York City marathon once, and the Berlin marathon three times. Born in what was then East Germany, she is now an American citizen based in Boulder, Colo., where she coaches runners, has a health foundation called Take the Magic Step and does motivational speaking with her Running To Freedom series.