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The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition: A Cutting-Edge Plan to Fuel Your Body Beyond "the Wall"

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From basic tenets of training to nutrition guidelines,this is the first resource for runners to fully integrate nutrition with training for a complete and systematic pre-race plan. "A must for marathoners"( Library Journal ).

Every year, roughly 2 million people participate in marathons and half marathons in the United States, and, no matter what level they are, every one of these runners has likely hit "The Wall," running out of muscle fuel in the final miles and slowing down precipitously. This setback and other common running disappointments are nutritional (or metabolic) in nature. In The New Rules , renowned fitness journalist and training coach Matt Fitzgerald cuts through the myths,distilling the most up-to-date science to help runners overcome the universally experienced nutritional barriers that prevent success in the marathon and half marathon.

Fitzgerald's powerful and easy-to-use tools will enable runners of all levels to attain their ideal racing weight, calculate their precise daily energy needs, and formulate a custom nutrition plan.

304 pages, Paperback

First published February 12, 2013

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About the author

Matt Fitzgerald

58 books291 followers
Matt Fitzgerald is the author of numerous books on sports history and endurance sports. He has enjoyed unprecedented access to professional endurance athletes over the course of his career. His best-sellers include Racing Weight and Brain Training for Runners. He has also written extensively for Triathlete, Men's Fitness, Men's Health, Outside, Runner's World, Bicycling, Competitor, and countless other sports and fitness publications.

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5 stars
208 (29%)
4 stars
320 (44%)
3 stars
162 (22%)
2 stars
17 (2%)
1 star
6 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 56 reviews
Profile Image for Emily B.
426 reviews418 followers
September 7, 2021
I found this book very helpful when training for a marathon. Easy to read and understand and full of good tips, advice and suggestions with options to adapt them to your style of training.
Highly recommended
Profile Image for Angela.
516 reviews30 followers
September 28, 2013
Probably the most useful & straightforward book I've ever read about nutrition specific to runners. Also, lots of great information that I hadn't seen before. Best of all, everything is based on current scientific evidence, not folk wisdom or outdated facts "everybody knows" from fifteen years ago. I doubt I will ever be even remotely perfect about my nutrition, but now I at least feel like I have a logical framework on which to hang my pitiful attempts.
Profile Image for Makenzie.
23 reviews
August 27, 2015
This book was just okay - great training plans, some good ideas, but a lack of quality research.

Cons: There's no citations of any of the research presented in the book, and many of the studies seem limited to small studies with less than 30 participants.
He also uses anecdotal evidence to support claims - for instance, he reccomends runners quit caffeine one week before a race, event though the evidence is inconclusive that a week is enough time to improve caffeine sensitivity. The only real support he provides is that he stopped using caffeine for a week and then accidentally ate some chocolate and felt buzzed. Uh...I'll just keep drinking coffee, thanks.

Pros: The training plans are incredibly helpful. I plan to implement some of his nutrition ideas even if they aren't 100% scientific.
Profile Image for JDK1962.
1,237 reviews20 followers
March 17, 2013
Excellent. Not only does it contain half and full marathon training plans, but it has nutritional advice that anyone active would do well to integrate into their life. I especially like the fact that he's not a food Nazi (i.e. "Eat that sugar and you'll go to HELL!")...rather, the approach is the more sensible "eat anything, but in quantities that maintain a sensible distribution between the various groups." I also liked the fact that he cited Tim Noakes' book Waterlogged and is a proponent of "drink to thirst" rather than being a shill for the sports-drink industry.

Found this at my local library, but I suspect I'll be buying a copy. There's too much good information in here to absorb in a single reading.
Profile Image for Kim.
163 reviews
April 2, 2018
In general, I think this was written for a more seasoned runner than me. I also wasn't expecting weight loss to be such a large focus.

In order to follow all the advice inside, you have to have a fitness tracker that measures heart rate. Even without a fitness tracker, there still is a lot of good information regarding the science of nutrition and why macronutrients are important, why and when you should fuel during long runs, when hydration matters, and the habits of successful endurance athletes. I liked that the author seemed straight forward and wasn't trying to push any product or gadget (with maybe the exception of having something to measure heart rate) as being absolutely necessary. And that he gave some general guidelines when buying hydration and fuel products. I also liked that he stressed that you really have to get to know your body and try different strategies to figure out works for fueling on your long runs.

In conjunction with the Racing Weight Cookbook (I've tried 5 recipes now, and all were hits), this is gold, at least to the beginner. I can't make any claims that it has helped me reach any of my goals at this point or kept me from hitting "the wall," but I can say that I unintentionally went on a 9.75 mile run when I was only supposed to do 8, and if I hadn't read the "Fueling Your Workout" chapter prior, I would have been in big, big trouble.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone planning to increase their training past 10k. And should I get fitness tracker in the future, I'd like to try some of the workouts in the back of the book.
Profile Image for Becky Ginther.
441 reviews33 followers
January 1, 2022
I've really been trying to develop a good nutrition plan for running so I got this book from the library. It really gets into the nitty gritty with nutrition, and I think I may have to start smaller, but I appreciate the information and perspective here. It's definitely written for more competitive/elite runners I think, but there are still some useful nuggets I think I can apply.

The core ideas are a specific approach to eating that places lots of veggies and fruits first, and a focus on carbs. Much of this plan is for weight loss and achieving the "ideal race weight." I will never be at what the "ideal" weight would be for my height and I try not to focus on that too much because I'm inclined to disordered eating, so I'm trying to not focus on those sections of the book.

There are also some training plans included which seem helpful and I'm interested in trying out some of the approaches. The main message is basically "run longer/more and slower" so we'll see how that works!
Profile Image for Jim Allen.
51 reviews19 followers
February 8, 2013
Excellent review of current research on nutrition for distance running. Love the way the author combines training and nutrition into weekly plans for half and full marathons. Plan to implement for my next race!
Profile Image for Rebecca.
388 reviews3 followers
October 7, 2013
The new rules are "eat more fat" and "run more but go slower". I can get behind both those rules.
165 reviews
March 27, 2023
I nearly threw this book away, calling it a garbage book, when during the early pages Fitzgerald discusses the importance of reaching ideal race weight, that number being 110 pounds for women. He goes on to discuss when to cut calories and how to do it as well as other male-specific strategies (no mention of eating disorder concerns or amenorrhea). This is very much a man's book written for male runners. And these recipes, they all feel like bird food, like after running all those miles in a week, don't we need more fat, protein, and carbs? If I ate per his recommendations (only indulging in pizza and beer after a race), I think I would disintegrate.

I did, however, stick with it because I appreciated some of his suggestions. My favorites:
1. Do a simulation run a few weeks before your race, a sixteen mile run meant to simulate your marathon (91). During the run, you should run your desired pace and follow your nutrition plan.
2. Run some hard workouts fasted and some (especially workouts longer than 1-1.5 hours) using your nutrition plan.
3. Cut caffeine a week before your race to enhance its effects (sounds terrible, but I wish I had the discipline to try it).
4. His training plans are interesting, nuanced, lot's of variety and targeted workouts.
28 reviews
January 1, 2020
I’m a recreational runner. Not elite, not age group competitive. I had just finished my first half marathon when I read this and I hoped it would give me some insights to improve for next time.

I felt like this book wasn’t meant for me. There is quite a bit of emphasis on getting lean and reaching ideal racing weight. As I said, I’m not elite. I’m not interested in being an “ideal racing weight” because for the average person that is not realistic and maybe not even healthy, particularly for people who have body image issues and might be prone to disordered eating.

Overall, the guidelines for how to eat to support your training were pretty common sense. Eat enough carbs to fuel your runs, make high quality food choices, etc. And the more specific stuff, how many grams of this or that I should consume per pound of body weight, well, again, I’m not elite and I can’t see myself doing that kind of calculation.

All that said, it was a good read, very interesting, and I learned a few things. When I start training again, I will certainly take some of this advice into account.
571 reviews13 followers
October 9, 2015
Для меня эта была самая полезная книга про циклические виды спорта, что я на данный момент прочитал.
Кстати, к марафону я не готовлюсь, но, поскольку, увлекаюсь беговыми лыжами, тема была практически интересной.
Кроме того, автор с таким увлечением и так интересно пишет, что было просто интересно увидеть изнутри процесс подготовки и участия в марафоне.

- Для меня основная ценность книги - в разложенным по полочкам и объясненным базовым принципам работы организма в контексте занятий спортом и питания.
- Хотя тема и заявлена про питание, но фактически затронуты все аспекты подготовки.
- Почти никакой рекламы, в том числе скрытой. Когда автор говорит про продукты, он описывает их свойства, кроме случаев, когда речь о продуктах, имена которых стали нарицательными и по сути обозначают класс продуктов.
Слово "почти" у меня буквально из-за последних страниц книги, где автор упоминает компанию, в которой работает. Надо отметить, что эти несколько абзацев звучат как "мне тут дали рекламный текст прочитать", Ну, прочитал, и ладно )
- Никакой саморекламы - обычно пол-книги вам обещают чему вас научат. Здесь все наполнено полезной информацией. Только там, где это к месту, автор упоминает, что сам использует то или это, или как применял успешно в своих консультациях.
- Написано с большим энтузиазмом, научные обоснования и рекомендации разбавлены рассказами из жизни, поэтому эту книгу еще и просто интересно читать. Ее не изучаешь, как учебник, потому что надо, а читаешь, потому что интересно.
- Автор явно живет этим своим увлечением, плюс старается питаться "органической пищей". Но при этом автор очень неглупый человек, с широким кругозором, свою книгу он не превращает в трибуну для продвижения своего взгляда на жизнь. Рекомендации подтверждает ссылками на исследования. Или явно говорит "вот это - просто мое мнение".
- Материал гигантский, но изложен очень систематически и предельно внятно. И если до этого у вас была попытка что-то понять из того океана информации, что накопился по теме циклических видов спорта, то книга, при всем своем большом фактическом ��бъеме, воспринимается вами как компактный путеводитель по этому океану.

Далее чисто для себя резюмирую.

Прочим очень рекомендую читать, эта моя выжимка ниже будет бессмысленна для вас, если не прочитаете все объяснения в книге.

- Чтобы не толстеть, конечно, надо кушать меньше, забивать желудок клетчаткой.
Автор предлагает свою эвристику, как это для себя организовать практически ("10 видов пищи"). Выглядит интересно.
- При сбросе веса, надо худеть не быстрее килограмма в неделю (при этой скорости теряется в основном жир, при большей скорости - в основном мышцы). Эффективность и комфортность этого процесса улучшаются, если количество белка в рационе поднять до 30%.
- Если вы аэробно тренируете мышцы, то вам надо есть углеводы. При разумном рационе жиреть вы не будете, но худеть при этом не получится - при недостатке углеводов мышцы не будут развиваться, вы не сможете создать у себя дефицит калорий и при этом развивать мышцы.
- Если вы бежите менее чем полтора часа, забудьте про электролиты и спортивные напитки, они вам просто не нужны.
- Только при марафонской нагрузке надо потреблять во время бега до 60г углеводов в час, и вот тут они важны, чтобы не скиснуть на последней миле марафона, поскольку при такой длительности возникает ситуация полного исчерпания энергетических возможностей организма.
- От судорог вам не помогут ни электролиты, ни вообще никакая химия. Причина судорог на марафонах достоверно не установлена, но скорее всего это неврологическая защитная реакция организма, и избавиться от нее можно только привыкнув к марафонам. Речь о привыкании мозга, тренированность тут ни при чем.
- Чтобы подготовится к марафону, надо с малой интенсивностью пробежать большой объем за месяцы подготовки. Пару раз в неделю делать множественные интервальные нагрузки высокой интенсивности, но малой длительности.
Добавлять в график недели со сниженной нагрузкой.
В идеале на заключительных этапах подготовки надо бегать по 100км в неделю.
Минимально - хотя бы по 50 в неделю. Не реже 4 раз в неделю.
- Важен период низкой нагрузки непосредственно перед марафоном, который доказанно очень эффективен (конечно, это не лежание на диване, а пробежки низкой интенсивности и малой длительности)
- На последней неделе подготовки к марафону надо накачать мышцы углеводами, однозначно доказано, что это заметно улучшает результаты.
Есть теории, что эффективномть повышается, если перед этим побыть денек-другой на жирной диете, но это не очень доказано, и в любом случае эффективность не супер-повысится.
- После каждой пробежки надо скушать до полу-грамма углеводов на каждый килограмм веса, чтобы мышцы быстрее восстановились и развивались.
- Пить надо "по желанию", достаточно воды - электролиты вам не повредят, но и смыла в них нет. Обезвоживание вообще не является особой проблемой для организма, но она влияет на эффективность, поскольку мозг при этом начинает притормаживать мышцы и результат ухудшается именно поэтому. Понятно, что речь не про экстремально жаркий климат и клинический случай обезвоживания.
- Обычно перед марафоном также принимаются не супер-сильные (отпускаемые без рецепта) обезболивающие. Они недостаточно сильны, чтобы спровоцировать травмы, и у вас все равно к концу дистации будут сильно болеть все мышцы, но боль не будет вас так сильно придерживать, и потом восстановление происходит быстрее.
- Кофе имеет смысл принимать только за час до старта, лучше в таблетках, и обязательно перед этим несколько дней не употреблять кофе, иначе не будет никакого эффекта.
- Полезные практические советы, вплоть до расположения пунктов питания на трассе, туалетов и как заснуть в ночь перед стартом.
- Море всего еще забыл, обязательно потом перечитаю.
60 reviews
October 27, 2021
Very helpful, straight-forward, backed by science approach to fueling your body for a long-distance race.


P30 runners with favorable genres are “exercise responders”
P55 include at least 1 serving of fruits/veggies in breakfast
P56 healthy cereals
P174 aerobic capacity = oxygen consuming ability, heart grows larger and more powerful; more mitochondria in muscle cells, where aerobic metabolism occurs, glycogen storage
P176 high intensity running is rough on the sympathetic nervous system
P187 tempo runs increase the lactate threshold, as do fast-finish runs

Breakfast: bagel, banana, energy bar, oatmeal
1-3g of carbs per kg of weight

NoDoz or Stay Awake caffeine pills
2-6mg (aim for 3mg) per kg of weight

30 minutes prior to race - 500mg of acetaminophen

60g of carbs per hour during race
Profile Image for Mary Pagones.
Author 14 books91 followers
September 14, 2022
Some good tips, and a very convincing argument about the importance of adequate carbs before and after running. The author knows his stuff from a running method/sport standpoint.

But most of us are also eating for balanced nutrition, and it’s tough to know how to reconcile his emphasis on vegetables and fruits as the most optimal and essential foods with the difficulty of getting enough calories, protein, and even carbs with the other necessary building blocks of a good diet.

I’m pretty bad at math, so more sample meal plans would have been helpful, too.
September 26, 2020
A good book that gives small steps to put good nutrition practices in place. These tips are not only for athletes but for people who want to be healthier versions of themselves. I tried some of the tips in this book and cut off 4 minutes from my HM PB. Running is not only about training. Nutrition plays a massive part in recovery and how you performa on race day. Pick this book up and you will leave with at least one nugget on how to be a better runner , athlete or healthier person.
Profile Image for Jess.
115 reviews16 followers
November 22, 2017
I was happily reading this until the author said Atkins died in 2005 (should be 2003) at the weight of 260lbs (neglecting to mention the significant weight gain was from water retention after entering hospital). This proves the author is far from objective and presents an obviously biased view. Would not trust his facts after this.
Profile Image for Cheryl Klein.
42 reviews1 follower
June 23, 2019
Some good, simple advice about eating for a race & how to try and maximize the benefit of what you consume. Some of the equations were a bit much, and many in kilograms, which here in the US requires some extra math. While I won't be subscribing to his plan to the gram, I did get an app for my phone to help me better track nutrients, with less of a focus on total calories.

93 reviews1 follower
January 15, 2019
First time when I made so many bookmarks that I might just read it again as well. Great book with a lot of numbers to back up the facts. Love it!
Profile Image for Jill .
388 reviews13 followers
August 5, 2019
Good information, although a bit more technical than I wanted. More sample daily meal guides would have been helpful.
Profile Image for Sallie Ferguson.
15 reviews
February 10, 2020
Great to read in prep for a marathon. I learned so much about how to eat on the run, for the run and how to do the run. carbs carbs carbs :)
213 reviews
May 3, 2020
A few interesting training tips, full nutrition plan is a bit much for me though
Profile Image for Rosemary.
453 reviews
June 18, 2021
I am not intense/serious to really go wild with this book. But it was interesting to read, I learned some things, and I might go with some of his training plans for a future race.
Profile Image for Tangela Cameron.
14 reviews1 follower
February 17, 2023
Old nutrition science. I should have checked the publication date (2013) beforehand.

He doesn’t cite any of the many studies he references.
Profile Image for Leah Blackwood.
134 reviews9 followers
February 24, 2022
Parts of this book are great and really educational — other parts seem very fat shaming and discredit people who run for fun. Not my favorite, but I did learn some useful tidbits
17 reviews1 follower
January 28, 2020
Quick read. As I train for my third marathon, I wanted to read literature on ways to improve my training, specifically my diet. I had been utilizing a version of keto and after reading, and doing follow-up research, I see how I have been depleting my body of the energy I need. It was an informative book, but drug on in some parts.
Profile Image for Gretchen.
360 reviews7 followers
February 7, 2017
The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition outlines how to eat and train for your best half or full marathon. Matt Fitzgerald provides lots of scientific evidence for his plans, and the end of the book has full training plans for different fitness levels.

Rating: 5/5

I really enjoyed this book. It's extremely interesting, and it's clear Fitzgerald knows what he's talking about. His "rules" are also very easy to follow. The nutrition guidelines are basically: 1) get enough carbohydrates and protein during your training (which varies depend on how much you are training and your weight), and 2) eat following the quality guidelines. This quality diet is basically a hierarchy. Fitzgerald says you should eat vegetables more than anything, followed by fruits, then nuts and seeds, then whole grains, etc., all the way down to fried foods. He argues that as long as you eat vegetables the most and follow the hierarchy, then you will have the proper nutrition while training and you'll be able to read your "race weight" (though for someone my height I'd have to lose quite a bit of weight to get to my best race weight, so I'm hoping just to lose a few pounds by following this diet).

Fitzgerald then provides specific training plans that you can follow, which are based on Lydiard's method of running slow and running a lot, the method most runners are currently using. Fitzgerald also has an app for these plans; if you buy the PEAR heart rate monitor and download the app, you can be coached by Fitzgerald through workouts based on your heart rate. I just bought the monitor and I'm looking forward to trying this. I know for me, the hardest part about training is finding a plan and sticking to it. I'm hoping having Fitzgerald in my ear will help me be really faithful to this training plan.

The book also provides a lot of really useful information, like when and what to eat on the morning of your race, and how many carbs you need during a race. This info alone is invaluable for runners looking to step up their game. I'm looking forward to trying Fitzgerald's nutrition rules and training plan for my half-marathon at the end of April!
Profile Image for Don Libes.
Author 7 books6 followers
March 7, 2014
While some of what Fitzgerald says makes sense, he is too cavalier with how he picks some advice from papers and other advice from anecdotes. At times, it becomes impossible to tell which is which. (Even the advice from papers is suspect as he is obviously choosing between papers.)

He is similarly confusing when he fails (at times) to distinguish between advice for marathoners vs half marathoners and beginners vs experienced runners. Lastly, the writing style is much too uneven. For example, he flips between grams and calories seemingly at random. Similarly between lbs and kgs, only rarely giving equivalents. (Makes me wonder where his editor was. An editor should catch this. But Fitzgerald has written many books and articles - he should know better.)

On the other hand, he did give some solid advice (but most of it is well known). Some advice was new to me, quite intriguing, and which I have incorporated such as his idea about using supplements every other long run.

In total, I found the book rather maddening to read and I have trouble recommending it for anyone else.
Profile Image for Pam.
Author 1 book22 followers
September 8, 2016
Great, straightforward book with some great case studies and research to support the points. While some of it was information I already knew from experience and other reading, some of it was new to me; like the section on caffeine (eg how to dose it, when to take it, info on pills vs coffee) and the section where he notes that the American College of Sports Medicine's fluid intake recommendations for marathoners (and don't quote me on this...) may represent influence from Platinum level sponsor Gatorade, and are not actually based on science, but more likely on Gatorade's desire to sell more Gatorade. I loved the section about the "Quick Start" phase; this is a training cycle I was unfamiliar with up to now and definitely something i will work into my own training. An added bonus was the training plans with accompanying information about exactly how to eat during the day and post-workout. This book was chock-full of useful info and one i will consider buying (I read my library's copy)
Profile Image for Laura.
139 reviews1 follower
April 2, 2015
I guess it may be a bit premature to rate this before actually running my first half and full marathon, but reading this HAS helped with my training and confidence. I'm fairly new to the world of running, so I don't have the greatest bank of knowledge to pull from, but I feel like even if you do know what's up there are some useful tidbits in here for you as well. The week-by-week training plans at the end include time/distance per day (depending on type of run) as well as nutrition goals for beginner, intermediate, and elite runners. If you're an elite runner you probably already have your own training team BUT it is cool to be able to compare and I appreciate that they're all there. I read this too late to use Matt's half training plan, but I'll stick to the marathon one when I begin that training in a few months. P.S. I'm going to run a marathon, ahhhhh!!!
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