T Nation

Supplements for Marathon?


NOT for me. My brother-in-law will be running his first marathon in a month or so. I ran into him at my parents' house a couple weeks ago and asked him what kind of supplements he was taking and he said only a multivitamin.

He's an awesome guy (way too good for my sister if you ask me) and I was thinking of picking him up something when I place my next order, but the question is "What?".

He's 34 and has been running steadily for about 3 years now. He was also a former collegiate mid-distance runner so he has that build (ie not super skinny). He does also do some weight training though I haven't had a chance to get too into the specifics with him as I don't see him very often.

I was thinking of possibly getting him some Surge and maybe toss in a bottle of BCAAs and Flameout.

Does anyone have any experience with this? A point in the right direction would be a huge help.



Hopefully OnMyOwn will chime it. She runs ultras.

What you listed looks good. Wish I had that when I was running a lot.


Props to you for wanting to support the runner in your family.

You might want to ask him if he needs anything specific or wants to try something new. If he's been running marathons for 3 years and was a collegiate runner before that, he probably knows and understands what his body needs in the way of nutrition. Serious distance runners are usually very dialed in on what they eat during training and during their runs.

There's nothing worse than being in the middle of a long run and suddenly being hit with a gastric explosion because of a new supplement or food. Been there, done that...on more than one occasion. I (and many of my running friends) carry a small amount of TP with us on long runs, just in case we have to make an emergency detour into the bushes. Not fun, especially when you're many miles away from home.

BTW, fantastic avi pic, made me stare at the screen for a long time.


Whey/BCAA is always a great option if he lifts. Flameout is great for anyone.

My wife has run a couple of half marathons - she likes GU energy gel for the run itself. It's straight up glucose basically. Some flavors come with caffeine too.


I suggested beta alanine for a friend in a similar situation, and they loved it.


Thanks everyone.

To clarify Whip, he ran in college (10+ years ago), but this is his first marathon. The poor guy is kept on a pretty short leash so I honestly don't know if he would have the freedom to purchase supps on his own.


I use to use Endurox when I ran a lot.

For race days Goo with caffine is great, just a lil hard on the stomach.

He probably knows this, but all race day supps, should be tested out on regular training days.


Granted, it's much shorter than a marathon, but I ran a Spartan Race this year. Finibars before the race were awesome for that, and the little GU packs for when I got tired.


I ran a half marathon last year or something. I never did during training, but during the race, they handed out these energy goo shots in a weird little packet. You can get them at any sports store. They're basically just sugar fast digesting carbs and electrolytes - HUGE difference. Get him some of those. A lot of serious runners also carry a pack of jelly beans and eat those throughout the run - no GI discomfort and allows for good sugar intake



I can't say enough about FINiBARs for endurance athletes... actually I can't say enough about FINiBARs for ANY athletes.

They're designed for sustained energy, like running or cycling, and since they suck water into the muscle, they're pretty awesome for weight lifting too. I LOVE the muscle pump I get when having FINiBARs for peri-workout nutrition. You should get a box for yourself... and maybe share one with him. :wink:


I've done some ultras and a few marathons, eating stuff varying from hot dogs to peanut butter and jelly covered in gel. It's going to really be up to what he responds well to, so a lot of experimentation is in order. I love Hammer products, as they're sugar free but still very high carb and in my experience, easy to digest. Their Endurolytes seem to work well as an electrolyte supplement. Maybe before the race, try to find out what will be offered and at what miles, so he can test the available supplements.

This may sound a little weird, but to train for ultras I used to run for 3-5 hours totally fasted, I heard from other ultra runners that this helps your body get more used to using fat as fuel. It seemed to help keep the bonk away. Also, caffeine is supposed to get you burning your own fat quicker and seemed to work for me.

^For the above, I can't and won't try to quote any scientific study or whatever to validate it. Worked for me, may or may not work for others.

I wish him the best of luck. Here are a couple of links.



Thank you everyone for all of the input and advice.

From what everyone has said, it seems like it is best to let him decide for himself what works for him.

I'm going with the less is more approach and think I will grab him some Finibars and Flameout. If he likes the stuff, he'll know where to look to get more. I will probably just toss him a few baggies full of the other stuff I take just so he can try it out if he wants but won't give him a full bottle and make him feel like he needs to use it or else hurt my feelings.

I really appreciate everyone's help. :slight_smile: