Overall dietary guidelines:
Contrary to previous beliefs, the week before the marathon isn’t all about piling on the pasta. In fact, to maximise carbohydrate (fuel) stores before the race, runners only need to start ‘fuelling up’ or ‘carb-loading’ two or three days before the race (three days if you prefer slower increase in your daily intake). Read more in our guide to carb-loading.
Following increased interest from runners on the matter of vegan sports nutrition, we have put together a plan for a week’s worth of meals leading up to the marathon which is entirely plant-based. A vegan diet needs careful planning to ensure that protein needs are met during training to support the growth and repair of muscles. Vegans also need to ensure that they’re getting enough of the key micronutrients such as iron, vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D and iodine.
While these recipes provide a good framework, there will also be times where an extra serving of higher-protein foods (such as pulses, grains, nuts and seeds) can be added to meals to increase the overall daily intake. Most plant-based foods don’t contain all nine of the essential amino acid ‘building blocks’ required to make them a ‘complete protein’, but this can be achieved through variety and different meal combinations.
Earlier in the week, it may be useful to start including snacks to train the gut in preparation for increased carbohydrate intake in the days leading up to the race.
As a general rule, what you eat should be different depending on the training demands for that day (or when you are preparing for the race itself) to promote sufficient fuelling and recovery. Discover what to eat on different training days with our training meal plans for runners.
We’ve included examples of the race training programme from London Marathon to plan your nutrition for this day.
* Beginner’s guidelines as recommended by the London Marathon.
It’s the day before the big race. Whilst carbohydrates are still the priority to fuel for the race ahead, it’s important to stick to the foods you know – now is not the time to start experimenting with extra spice or fatty dishes, which may cause a stomach upset.
Often the biggest mistake is trying to eat too much the day before and feeling uncomfortable on the morning of the race – stick to your normal routine here (only have a dessert or an evening snack if you usually have one), so you’re up and ready to eat breakfast before the race.
Vegan tomato & mushroom pancakes
Try this tasty savoury pancake stack with a creamy tomato and mushroom topping.
Increasing your carb intake definitely has its perks – such as a slice of this irresistible vegan banana bread.
Jerk sweet potato & black bean curry
Serve your vegetable curry Caribbean-style, flavoured with thyme, jerk seasoning and red peppers – great with rice and peas.
Kiwi fruit smoothie
Blitz kiwi, mango, pineapple and banana to make this delicious smoothie.
Sticky noodles with homemade hoisin
Cook our healthy, vegan stir-fry to pack in four of your five-a-day. The hoisin sauce is made with Chinese five spice and apple cider vinegar to boost the flavour.
Dessert/evening snack (optional)
Vegan chocolate & banana ice cream
This super quick snack has only two ingredients – banana and cocoa powder.
Go back to the week-long vegan marathon meal plan.
Find more expert advice and answers to your training questions in our marathon hub.
These meal plans were reviewed on 1 September 2021.
James Collins is recognised as a leading Performance Nutritionist through his work with Olympic and professional sport. Over the last decade he has worked with Arsenal FC, the England and France national football teams and Team GB. He has a private practice in Harley Street where he sees business executives, performing artists and clients from all walks of life. He is the author of the new book The Energy Plan, which focuses on the key principles of fuelling for fitness.
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