The London Marathon. The last star in my 6-star journey. The race that so many said is ‘the best’ of the Abbott World Marathon Majors. Would I think it was the best? How could any race hold up to the excitement of the Boston Marathon, the crowds of the NYC Marathon, or the ease of the Chicago Marathon start? 

I wasn’t sure how my body would feel jumping back into continued marathon training after running the Tokyo Marathon in early March. So, I went into London training with an open mind just noticing how my body felt. Much to my surprise, my body felt great. After 5 days totally off running – focusing hardcore on recovery nutrition – and an easy 1 ½ weeks of short runs, we decided to hop back into a few tough weeks of training to get back after it at the London marathon.

I also found out my ferritin was in the toilet again after the Tokyo marathon. In the 7 weeks between Tokyo & London, I was diligent about my iron supplement to see how much we could improve my ferritin in this short time. 

After an action packed weekend at the Boston Marathon, a quick trip back home to repack for London, and then a horrific travel experience getting to London – I finally landed in London <after a 40+ hour travel excursion> on Friday morning for a Sunday race.

Let’s take a look at how I carb loaded, and fueled before, during, and after the London Marathon.

Carb Load

I recommend that runners carb load for 2 – 3 days before their marathon, and I stand by my commitment to doing the same. By fully loading our glycogen stores, we stock our muscles with carbohydrates & water – both necessary when we are looking to run at a higher effort for the entire marathon distance. 

My personal carb load needs are 400 – 500 gm carbohydrates per day x 3 days. In the past, I have relied very heavily on bagels & graham crackers for the carb load. Travel issues + London not having great bagels, I changed this up a lot this time. 

Day One

I woke up on day one in the sketchiest motel on the planet after my flight was delayed, and I missed my connecting flight in DC. I say ‘woke up’ lightly because I got to the motel at 1:15 am & slept with my shoes on and purse around my chest in case I needed to flee in the middle of the night. It was that bad. But, this is why I always say ‘pack all the carbs – prepare for anything’ because who knows if your day one carb load will also land you in unexpected situations. The original travel plan had me in London eating crumpets & jam for a carb load on day one, but instead, I was using my $20 travel credits to buy pretzels, chex mix, mentos, and electrolyte drinks. And, making carb load plates in the airport lounge.

What did I eat all day? 2 granola bars on the way back to the airport. Then, after weaseling my way into the airline’s club, I ate the same plate of bread, cheese, pretzels, and a small piece of cake, three different times from 10 am to 6 pm. I snacked on more pretzels and mentos throughout the day. Then, dinner when I finally boarded my flight to London. This consisted of bread, rice, noodles, and a bag of peanut butter M&M’s I bought at the airport. This was not my finest work – but it got the job done!

Total Carb Load Day One: 425 gm carbs

Day Two

I woke up on the airplane at 3 am my time, 8 am London time. I was a shell of a human at this point – two nights with minimal sleep doesn’t fair well for me these days <still not sure how I survived a colicky newborn>. I had a two-hour drive from the airport to my hotel where I struggled to keep my eyes open. I strolled into my hotel in a daze, said a pathetic hi to my Abbott friends and immediately took a 90-minute nap – waking up to a Facetime call from the kids before they went to school. I got up and attempted to run, which felt so awful, I ran 1 mile and walked home, took a shower, and headed to the expo with my Abbott crew. This reinvigorated me for sure! I am not usually hungry during a carb load but I was starving today. It was likely the sleep deprivation + stressful travel situation, but I leaned into it and ate more than my ‘goal’ but this felt like exactly what I needed. Also, if you haven’t eaten an entire pizza sitting in bed in your pajamas, I highly recommend.

What did I eat all day? A high-carb granola bar, airplane breakfast of pancakes + strawberry jam + syrup, another granola bar, chex mix, graham crackers, soft pretzel, bagel at the expo, 3 crumpets + jam, and the most epic wood-fired sourdough pizza from Franco Manca.

Total Carb Load Day Two: 550 gm carbs

Day Three

On Saturday,  I woke up in a real bed for the first time in 3 days, and after 11+ hours of sleep, I was feeling much better – about 75% of my normal human self. Just in time for the Shakeout + Carb Load event with Charlie Watson and The Westin London City. Here I got to spend some quality time with 150 runners and give them carbs to help with their carb load including bagels, bananas, gummies, oatmeal, energy bite, rice krispie treats, jam, honey, and granola bars. It was quite the spread. From here, I joined the Abbott team for a course preview and meeting on the HMS Belfast, a ship built for the Royal Navy in WWII. After this, I got off my feet for the day and ate all the carbs. I attempted to head to bed early but didn’t fall asleep until around 10 pm for a 6 am race day wake-up. 

What did I eat all day? Graham crackers, crumpets + jam, bagel, Percy Pig candy, granola bar, more crumpets + jam, more graham crackers, and another Franco Manca pizza. If it ain’t broke…

Total Carb Load Day Three: 450 gm carbs

Learn more about carb loading + check out our carb load calculator here.

Race Morning

The London Marathon starts later at 10 am or slightly after depending on your wave. This actually works great for two reasons. One reason is this was 5 am my time at home, which is when I normally run. And, reason two is we have to take a train to the start so this allows runners to sleep in a little more on race day. 

I set an alarm for 6 am, ordered coffee, and started eating my graham crackers in bed. I recommend eating ½ your body weight <in pounds> of carbs 2 and 4 hours before a later start marathon. For me, this is 6 sheets of graham crackers at 6 am and 8 am. I like to keep things simple. 

We left for the train at 7:30 am so I took my second set of graham crackers and a bottle of water with electrolytes with me. 

The train ride was very easy and the train was full of runners, which was reassuring that we were headed the right direction on the train! 

We got to our start area, ate and drank, used the restrooms, and got lined up and ready to roll. 

Total Pre-Race Nutrition: 140 gm carbs + 16 oz water with 400 mg sodium + 2 small cups of coffee

Race Nutrition During the London Marathon

The London Marathon offers small bottles of water at 12 water stops on course. These bottles have a drink spout, which makes water consumption much easier for all of us cup-challenged runners. They also offer their electrolyte drink, Lucozade, at 4 different stops on the course. And, Lucozade gels at two stops. 

If you’ve been around here for long, you know my preference is to carry a bottle with my own hydration concoction. This time, I carried the HydraPak tempo bottle with a prototype removable strap. <note: this strap is not for sale yet, but hopefully will be soon> In this bottle, I put 1 serving of Skratch Hydration Sport Drink Mix + 1 scoop of Skratch Everyday Drink Mix. This gave me 18 oz water with 780 mg sodium.

I took 7 Maurten gels, two of which were caffeinated. One caffeine 10 minutes before the start, then a gel every 25 minutes, with the second caffeine gel at 50 minutes.

The weather was 47 at the start, mostly cloudy, and mid 50s at the finish. For me, this is ideal racing weather and I knew that 18 oz of my fluid concoction should minimize dehydration to a point that did not impact performance. My bottle lasted until mile 15 and I took a few sips of water on course after this. I pulled the reusable water bottle strap off to keep before tossing my handheld to the side of the road. 

This nutrition plan was very similar to what I used at the Berlin Marathon, which still holds my marathon PR of 2:49:55. So, I was confident that this plan would work well for me in cooler weather at London, and it sure did. I loved the new Hydrapak Tempo bottle with the removable handstrap and will share more about this when it is commercially available for anyone who is interested. 

Nutrition was perfect. In retrospect, I wouldn’t change anything with it. 

Total Race Nutrition per hour: 70 gm carbs/hour + 325 mg sodium/hour + 10 oz fluid/hour 

The Race

Rumor had it that the London Marathon was a fan favorite amongst the World Marathon Majors. I found it hard to believe that a race could hold up to the excitement, crowds, ease, and prestige of other majors. But, I have to say – the rumors are true. London is hands down a top, must run marathon on my list now. 

The entire race had a laid back feel to it that reminded me of races pre-Boston 2013 and pre-COVID. The start was a rolling start and when we got up to the line, we all just started running surrounded by confetti cannons, live music, grandstand crowds, and all the fanfare. Slightly anticlimactic but also allowed for a less crowded start than the Tokyo Marathon where I saw two runners fall and get trampled at the start.

There are some highlights of the course that stand out to me. The crowds battle NYC crowds. The runners in costumes at all paces are massively entertaining. The sights on the Tower Bridge, at the mall, and Big Ben were breathtaking. The narrow streets meant aid was handed out from the sidewalk, leaning over a metal barrier were arms thrusting water bottles out with ease which meant the roads were ours for the entire course, no veering in around tables in the street. And the crowds at Canary Wharf rival First Ave. They say First Ave in NYC is looking for ‘their’ runner. The crowds throughout Canary Wharf were there for us all. It was chilling in the most beautiful way possible. 

My goal for the London Marathon was to start running, see how I felt, and run the best race I had in me on that day. When I crossed the start line, I was freezing. My legs felt heavy and my feet were numb, so I ran and let me body warm up and by mile 5 I could tell that my marathon pace was going to feel just fine on the day. I found myself pushing the pace from here – to see how fast I could run. After a couple of miles, I realized I hadn’t looked into the crowd, I hadn’t looked up, or around. I immediately decided this is not how I wanted to run my final Marathon Majors race. So, I picked my head up, smiled at spectators, hyped the crowd, and couldn’t rip the smile off my face. From here, my goal was to enjoy every single moment, mile, smile, spectator, and sight on the course. And the icing on the cake, this pace was only 5 – 10 second slower than the pace I was pushing at the beginning of the race. 

I finished my final 6th star race at the London Marathon in 2:53:43. My 4th fastest marathon. And, 1 hour and 5 minutes faster than my first marathon in 2009. 


Nutrition, sleep, and a calm & grateful mind are my personal trifecta to running a successful marathon and this whirlwind of a trip to London solidified that for me. I encourage you to find your personal nonnegotiables for your own running goals. 

In my experience working with so many of you, nutrition is often the missing link in our marathon success. I encourage you all to practice and perfect your carb load, pre-race nutrition, and during race nutrition & hydration in training – to find what works best for you. We have plenty of options to execute our nutrition well and support optimal performance. But, it’s up to you to put in the time, trials, and effort to find what that looks like for you. 

It’s incredibly important to me to put out free resources so everyone has access to the information needed to find this personalized plan. You can find these resources on my website and Instagram. But, if you still feel like you need 1-on-1 help, we have plenty of options to support you in developing your best nutrition & hydration plan. 

This passion to help everyone fuel better for their marathons was a part of my partnership with Abbott throughout my Marathon Majors journey. I am lucky & honored to be able to share this nutrition knowledge with Abbott runners through webinars and articles and continue to share these resources with you all, while chasing my own 6 star dream. Thank you, beyond words, to Abbott for this amazing partnership. 

If you found this helpful, I give out different nutrition tips in each of my race recaps. Here are a few others, if you missed them: Berlin, Tokyo, and Boston.

If you need help with your carb load or race day plan, I can create a Customized Carb Load Plan or Race Day Fuel & Hydration Plan for you!