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.
Carbohydrate is reduced today as it’s a rest day. Starting the day with a protein-rich breakfast is a good option here, to support muscle growth and repair, whilst training volume is lower.
Vegan fry-up (served without the hash browns)
This vegan take on the classic English breakfast boasts vegan sausages with mushrooms, tomatoes, scrambled tofu and baked beans.
Squash & barley salad with balsamic vinaigrette
Pearl barley adds texture and bite to this salad packed with butternut squash, broccoli, red onion and olives.
Spicy roast chickpeas
This moreish snack is super simple to make – just mix the spice blend, coat the chickpeas, and pop into the oven.
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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