Nutrition is often overlooked for a half marathon. You will have put a lot into training, so why not put some effort into a basic half marathon nutrition plan that could make your next half the best ever? 


Carbohydrate is your high energy fuel. Depleting your reserves will mean that your performance drops towards the end of a longer event. You will have felt this for yourself. For a PB or to make your event more enjoyable, you should ensure that you start a race with a full fuel tank by carbo-loading and consume carbohydrate as you run to top up your carbohydrate stores.

Running coach Nick Anderson from Running With Us says:

“I often used to run 64-65 minute half marathons and would take a couple of mouthfuls of gel at about 40 minutes to help with the final push, especially caffeine gels. For the recreational runner who is out on course for longer, gels will definitely make their run more enjoyable”

Carbo-loading the simple way

Carbo-loading can increase your body’s store by 30% or more. Follow this three-step plan to make sure your fuel tank is full to the brim.

  1. Reduce your mileage 4 to 5 days before your event.
  2. Two days before your event, increase your carbohydrate intake to 10 grams per kg of body weight. For a 70kg runner that would be 700 grams each day. If that’s too much, then try to get as close as you can to that amount.
  3. Most runners often don’t reach the required intake, as carbohydrate rich foods are normally bulky. To avoid the bulk, drink 500ml of HIGH5 Energy Drink every 2 to 3 hours during the day and snack on 2 or 3 Energy Bars. This will provide around 350g of carbohydrate, your normal diet should provide the rest.

Follow our half marathon nutrition plan to finish strong and with a smile on your face.

Race day breakfast

  1. Keep it light and high in carbs, but low in fat and protein. Cereals, toast and porridge are all good.
  2. The maximum amount of carbohydrate you can absorb into your blood stream is about 60g per hour. So if you eat breakfast one hour before your run, it should contain around 60g of carbohydrate. If your breakfast is two hours before your run, then increase that to 120 grams, and so on. Much more than this can cause stomach upset.
  3. You can drink 500ml of HIGH5 Energy Drink to provide 45g of these carbs – hydrating you at the same time.
  4. If you have to travel any distance to your race, take a HIGH5 Energy Bar to eat on the way. It provides 43g of carbohydrate in an easily digestible form.

10 to 15 minutes before the start

Consume 200ml of water if possible to start the hydration process. Take one Energy Gel Caffeine OR  Energy Gel Aqua Caffeine sachet. These two products have virtually the same formulation and carbohydrate content. The difference is that Energy Gel Aqua Caffeine is bigger and slightly heavier, as it contains additional water. This makes it’s consistency more like a drink than a gel and it’s easier to get-down.

During the race

Sub 1:15 runners:
Take one Energy Gel Caffeine or Energy Gel Aqua Caffeine sachet around the 45-minute mark.

Sub 1:45 runners:
Take one Energy Gel Caffeine or Energy Gel Aqua Caffeine sachet around the 45-minute mark and another at 75 minutes.

2 hour plus runners:
After 40 minutes, start taking Energy Gel Caffeine or Energy Gel Aqua Caffeine sachet and then take another sachet every 30 minutes throughout.

Use a HIGH5 Gel Belt to carry your Gels.


A moderate dose of Caffeine stimulates the body’s nervous system, making you more alert, increasing concentration and reducing the feeling of effort. This improves run performance.

Note: Although caffeine is effective for most runners, you should try it in training first. If you experience any side effects, then simply replace HIGH5 Energy Gel Caffeine or Energy Gel Aqua Caffeine with standard non-caffeinated Energy Gel or Energy Gel Aqua. Caffeinated gels should not be used if you are pregnant or have any medical condition.


Your fluid needs will vary depending on how warm the weather is on race day and how much you sweat. Take on water or the on-course drink regularly, especially if you are running for more than 90 minutes. Drink as much as you comfortably can.

At the Finish

Drink 400ml of HIGH5 Recovery Drink as soon as you finish. Eat a balanced meal one to two hours later.

Good luck!