You need all the energy you can muster before running a marathon, and in the days leading up to your race, it’s important to top up your fuel stores. As the body’s top energy source for working muscles, runners should be taking in at least 50% of their calories in the form of carbohydrates, upping their intake to around 65% in the few days before the race. While whole grain carbohydrates, such as brown rice, bread and pasta, are much more nutrient rich than refined carbohydrates, they are also higher in fibre and take longer to digest. Therefore, the meals suggested below opt for refined carbohydrates, providing the body with quickly-absorbed energy, while reducing the risk of an upset stomach. They taste delicious too – give them a try!
SPAGHETTI WITH CHERRY TOMATOES AND PUMPKIN SEED PESTO
A high-carbohydrate dish, packed with omega-rich pumpkin seed pesto and nutrient-rich broccoli.
- 300g white spaghetti
- 1tbsp coconut butter or olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 shallot, chopped
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Black pepper to taste
- Pumpkin seed pesto
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- Pinch of sea salt
- 30g basil leaves
- 30g pumpkin seeds
- 75ml flaxseed oil
- 15g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Make the pesto by blending all the ingredients in a food processor to form a smooth paste. Add a little more oil if needed.
2. Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente, about seven or eight minutes. Drain.
3. Heat a frying pan and add the oil.
4. Sauté the garlic, onion and lemon zest, and cook for two or three minutes. Add the tomatoes and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add to the pasta with the lemon juice and pesto, and toss thoroughly. Season with black pepper to taste.
FRYING PAN PIZZA
Pizzas are packed with carbohydrates, but buying prepared ones isn’t as tasty or nutritious as making your own. Give it a topping that suits your nutritional needs and tastes. If you want more protein in the recipe below, add strips of grilled chicken breast or chunks of grilled salmon.
- 200g self-raising flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 100g low-fat natural yoghurt
- 1 courgette, sliced
- 150g butternut squash, chopped (no need
- 1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 100g passata
- 6-8 fresh anchovies
- 20g sun-dried tomatoes
- 20g mozzarella
- A few rocket leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas mark 6.
2. To make the dough, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt, and then stir in the yoghurt and bring together to make a soft dough. Wrap in cling fi lm and chill for around 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, toss together the courgette, butternut, onion, 1 tbsp of olive oil and cumin seeds. Place in a roasting tin and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and heat the grill to a medium heat.
4. Roll out the dough so that it fi ts roughly into a large frying pan.
5. Heat the remaining oil in the pan and add the dough. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until golden underneath. Flip over and cook the other side for 5-6 minutes.
6. Spread the passata over the pizza, then sprinkle with roast vegetables, anchovies, tomatoes and cheese. Grill for 4-5 minutes until the cheese is melted.
7. Serve with a scattering of rocket leaves.
8. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan flakes and oregano leaves.
PEA AND MINT RISOTTO
Carbohydrate-rich risotto is one of the quickest and simplest things to make and is easy on the stomach before a race. You can add so many different flavours too, try adding roasted peppers or delicious prawns.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 275g Arborio rice
- Splash of white wine (optional)
- 600-700ml hot vegetable stock
- 175g frozen peas, defrosted
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped mint
1. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion for between 3-4 minutes, until starting to soften.
2. Add in the rice and cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes before pouring in a splash of wine. Cook over a high heat, stirring until the wine has all been absorbed.
3. Place the vegetable stock in a smaller pan over a low heat and gradually add a ladle of this, one at a time, to the rice pan, stirring constantly. Continue to add the stock until the rice is cooked ‘al dente’ (not too soft).
4. Add the peas and cook for 1-2 minutes then stir in the chopped mint and half the grated Parmesan.
5. Season to taste then serve with the remaining Parmesan sprinkled over the top.