Running coach Jo Stephenson is sharing her tips to help those training for this year’s London Marathon and this week she has turned her attention to diet.

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Jo, who runs and coaches with the Stowmarket Striders, said: “At the club we recently had a presentation from a nutritionalist. She would prefer marathon runners use a variation of the five-a-day but instead try and achieve 10 portions of fruit or vegetables a day.”

And it is not just the volume of fresh food that is important but the type. Jo said: ”There should be more of an emphasis on more vegetables than fruit due to the large amount of sugars that may be found in fruit.”

She continued: “As mileage goes up for runners they should lean more towards foods with carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates being preferable, for example whole grains which are high in fibre, have moderate protein levels and are low in fat.”

Wannabe marathon runners should be trying to include oats, wheatgerm, barley, wild rice, and brown rice, whole grain bread and bagels in their diet as well as pasta, macaroni and breakfast cereals that are made from whole grains.

But Jo warned: “Care should be taken not to over indulge with the “carb loading” especially in the early stages, but put a bit more emphasis on more carbohydrates in the last week or so.” Protein is needed to help repair and rebuild the muscles post exercise, and Jo has some interesting recommendations for ways to up your protein intake.

“Skimmed milk, or peanut butter on wholemeal bagel or bread are good for this. The latest thoughts are the sooner you can consume something post exercise the better, you should certainly try and take something on board within the first 20 minutes.”

But what, if anything, should you consume during that all important run?

“During the long runs it may be beneficial to take on board some energy,” said the marathon runner, who will this year compete in the Brighton race. “This can come in the shape of sports gels and drinks. These replace the electrolytes lost during a run and also provide a supply of carbohydrates.

“There are so many on the market and it’s important to test these out before the big day. It’s a good idea to find out if the marathon you’ve entered offers any around the route and therefore try these out before hand.

“This means you wont need to worry about how to carry and how many to carry with you on the day. Personally I try and avoid using sports gels and drinks during the build up so that I benefit more from them on the day. I do, however, make sure at some point that they do agree with me.”

To share your marathon stories, email suffolkweb@archant.co.uk

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