Prepare your half marathon with Julien Bartoli

Julien, our half-marathon specialist explains the following: "The half-marathon is midway between a 10km and a Marathon. It is a race in its own right that requires serious preparation to avoid falling short of one's objective. Every aspect must be treated seriously to get the winning formula: training, healthy living, healthy food and fluid intake. If you fulfil all this, you will be in the best possible condition for tackling the day of the race.
It's an exciting race and there are always many unanswered questions, doubts and uncertainties prior to the race starting. Then the race starts and you just have to fight on to the finish and enjoy yourself as you attempt to make a personal best. You must remain highly concentrated during the race. There are several phases, an initial section where you feel fresh and in good physical shape. You need to find the right pace and refuel every 5kms. In the half-marathon, the difficult part is between the 15th and 18th km. An important factor for me is therefore the nutritional energy intake: This comes in the form of gels.
Afterwards, the mental aspects take over in order to finish the race and the euphoria and adrenalin help to get back on top and surpass oneself despite the fatigue. The mental strength to surpass oneself comes from this energy intake..."

How do you prepare for your half-marathons?

One week before the half-marathon

Julien's advice: "I drink a lot and my food is mainly composed of carbs and fish to which I add food supplements if needed. I eat cereal bars and have an isotonic drink which I alternate with water in order to take on the energy I need. I reduce my training regime at the beginning of the week and increase the training during the two days prior to the race. The effect of this is to overcompensate the energy levels. I am also very careful to ensure that I sleep well. "

My opinion: "the objective of this final week are to extend the fluid and energy reserves to their maximum level by taking the right amount of water and increasing the carb intake. Digestive problems must be avoided by taking care about what you eat."

3 days before the half-marathon:

Julien's advice: "My diet is based primarily on carbs with wheat and pasta. I also eat cereal bars and drink isotonic drinks"

My advice: "The objective of these last few days is to increase the carb intake in order to extend the body's energy reserves to their maximum level. In order not to affect one's dietary habits and avoid any intestinal problems by increasing one's daily intake too much, maltodextrin can be taken to help. Indeed, maltodextrin helps to take on a large quantity of sugar in a small volume. It is a drink which remains isotonic or even hypotonic and is therefore easily tolerated by the body."

3hrs before the half-marathon:

Julien's advice: "If the race takes place in the morning, I have a breakfast composed of tea or hot chocolate in which I dip my toast or crispbread. In addition to this, I eat super cake. If the race takes place in the afternoon, I have a meal composed of pasta and ham, one fruit and some supercake. "

My opinion: "The final meal ensures that my blood sugar levels are maintained. It is primarily composed of carbs and it must be taken 3 hours before the event. Its main aim is to maximise glycogen reserves. Supercake is the ideal food."

What do you do during your half-marathon?

Julien's advice: "The ability to manage your effort levels is learnt little by little and cannot be acquired overnight. Do not always trust the good feelings that you have at the beginning of a race as fatigue can quickly catch up with you. You need to know yourself very well and it is your training that will help you to get to know yourself properly.
You must therefore remain below the pace that you are capable of running (over 10 km) so that you still having something left in the tank for the rest of the race as the effort made is intense and lasts a long time.
I use water at every supply station and why not an isotonic drink at the end of the race as well as some gels."

My advice: "The objective during the race is to avoid dehydration, avoid hypoglycaemia and avoid running out of energy reserves. To achieve this, you must to take on supplies at the supply stations, because many runners start without water bottles despite the advice given. To avoid hypoglycaemia, it is advisable to top up your energy levels by regularly consuming sugars during the race. Gels are generally used during half-marathons. They are easy to eat and convenient to transport. Gels must be consumed with water, so ideally take one before each supply station. 

For the sake of repeating myself, in order to avoid any digestive problems, the products used during the race should be tested in training."

What do you do to recover from your half-marathon?

Julien's advice: "For my recovery, I consume one isotonic drink with some recovery bars, I also massage my muscles with a relaxing oil and using electro-stimulation."

My opinion: "During the recovery phase, these water losses must be replenished as quickly as possible. You need to rebuild your energy reserves and help your muscles repair themselves. This is done using the following 3 key elements: water, carbs and protein. These elements are all found in the recovery drinks or recovery bars which are taken with water."


Thank you, Julien, for your answers.

Julien Bartoli, 36 years, runner from the age of 7 years. 29’35’’ over 10km, 1h07’39’’ for the half-marathon and 2h22’40’’ for the marathon. He has a great list of achievements:

  • 1st Frenchman at the 2013 – 2014 half-marathon of Barcelona,
  • 1st Frenchman at the half-marathon of Barcelona in 2013 and 2014
  • 4th Frenchman at the 20km of Paris
  • 6th Frenchman at the 2013 marathon of Paris
  • Winner of the 2013 Cap l'Aubrac trail run
  • 4th in the 2014 French marathon championship
Marie Fauchille
Dietician | Nutritionist
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    sucres lents

    The body is mostly made up of water (60%), proteins, lipids, minerals and carbohydrates. * All these elements come from food and are either used to provide the necessary energy for the body to function properly, or combine to form the tissues which make up organs.