From celebrity chefs to TV stars, find out which surprising personalities have gone the distance. We asked for their top training tips and their favourite foods to feast on once they've crossed the finish line...
Michel Roux Jr
Not only is he an award-winning chef, Michel Roux Jr has completed an astounding 20 marathons. Find out why the superstar chef cuts red meat from his diet before a race, which superfoods get him to the finish line and what he’s learned from running marathons, in our interview.
Bristol-born actor Jack is best known for his role as the vicar in BBC drama Call the Midwife. He’s run four half marathons, but this is his first time running the full 26.2 miles.
“I only train when I’m doing races and then I’ll go out 3 times a week – otherwise I keep fit by boxing and playing football. On training days I avoid eating anything too spicy or acidic. Salad, pasta or chicken usually work. Once I’ve passed the finish line I’ll eat something horrendous – meat dropped in cheese probably, washed down with confectionary of all types – yum! The thing that has most surprised me about training for a marathon? How ridiculously long it is. It’s the constant psychological battle you have with your two selves, with one trying to persuade the other to ‘knock it on the head and go home’.
Marcus is a TV chef and winner of the UK’s Iron Chef competition, who has made live appearances at our very own BBC Good Food Show. This year will be his fourth London Marathon.
“When I first signed up for the marathon, I was very conscious that I needed to do a really long run to prepare – over 18 miles. Then over the last two years I’ve had less time, so haven’t completed any big runs at all – instead going to the gym to build overall strength. I’ll get to the gym 3-4 times a week for an early morning cardio and weights session, before the kids get up for school. Over the last 3 marathons, I haven’t clocked up any big runs in training – the furthest has been about 12 miles. It seems to work as every year I’ve managed to take 30 minutes off my previous time. My favourite breakfast on training days is blueberry and banana porridge with coffee, then for lunch, a high-protein salad with meat or fish. Dinner is protein again, with some sort of grain – bulghar wheat is a particular favourite at the moment. I’m always hungry, so dark chocolate, granola bars, soft-boiled eggs and nuts all make great snacks in between meals. What will I eat after crossing the finish line? More like, what won’t I be eating?! It’s always important to get some energy after the run, so any snack in the finisher’s bag will be quickly devoured. Then it’s time for some proper food, like a really good homemade burger, or steak and chips. Failing that, you’ll see me at the all-you-can-eat buffet!”
One of Britain’s best-loved armchair critics on Channel 4’s Gogglebox, Baasit has already run the Wolverhampton Marathon.
“Even running a marathon sounds short in comparison to the people who inspire me, like Eddie Izzard and Amy Hughes. To run one marathon is amazing, but to run consecutive marathons for days on end is something else. When training, I aim to get at least one long distance run (2-3 hours) in every week. I’ve found that my best runs are the ones where the playlist is more laid-back rather than crazy dance music, which has surprised me. My training for the rest of the week consists of shorter and faster runs (which are horrid), spin classes, or HIT classes if I’m struggling for time. On training days, I’ll eat everything in moderation, although I focus on eggs and chicken for protein and increase my vegetable intake – that’s been pretty tough during the Easter period. This year’s London event will be my second marathon ever – the last one was before my 30th birthday, and I was much fitter. Since then I’ve developed a gut from turning 30, getting married, becoming a dad and Gogglebox!”
And two from the Good Food team…
Food editor-at-large Barney has completed five consecutive London Marathons, with a very proud personal best of 3 hours 43 minutes.
“I run to de-stress. Modern life with two small children is beyond busy and running provides ‘me time’ outdoors which makes me a happier person once I’ve finished. My job involves a lot of eating and in my mid 30’s I found I was starting to gain weight – distance running kept the middle-age paunch at bay. In my opinion, some training schedules are far too regimented – I run regularly, so coming up to the marathon, I just increase the distance and frequency of my runs. On training days, I increase the quantity that I eat and never skip meals. I love these black bean marathon burritos. It’s so important to eat when exercising – half a banana or a handful of jelly beans can mean the difference between someone failing or finishing a marathon. All the adrenalin means that I’m never very hungry afterwards, but a couple of days later I find myself becoming famished really quickly. Last year I thought I was going to faint from hunger and the closest thing was a chip shop – a large portion of salty, vinegary chips tasted like one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.”
Cookery Assistant Sophie ran the London Marathon in 2015
“I love the mental calmness that running brings. In the run-up to the marathon, I’ve been training about four times a week. On training days, my favourite foods are pasta, eggs, avocado and courgette cake. I haven’t really thought about what I’ll eat when I pass the finish line yet – potentially a celebratory lunch, but it depends how I’m feeling! This will be my first ever marathon, so I might crack open a beer. We’re catering a Good Food pop-up the next day, so I’ll need to get back on my feet pretty quickly!”