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.
20 mins easy run
* Beginner’s guidelines as recommended by the London Marathon.
Protein-rich foods at each meal are the priority for today with a light training session. Carbohydrates are lower today before increasing tomorrow, leading into the race. Try out some new meal options with a range of fruits and vegetables to provide micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) for the regeneration of muscles.
This vegan breakfast bowl is packed with nutritious ingredients, including chia seeds and fresh fruit.
Red pepper hummus
This tasty dip is very quick and easy to make – perfect served with vegetable crudites.
Spinach, sweet potato & lentil dhal
Hit three of your five-a-day in one sitting. This easy one-pot is iron-rich and low-fat too.
Frozen fruit sticks with passion fruit & lime drizzle
This colourful mix of fruit adds a hit of natural sweetness to your day.
Veggie Thai red curry served with cauliflower rice
This fragrant Thai dish boasts chunks of tofu alongside a variety of vegetables. Serve over cauliflower rice for an extra helping towards your five-a-day.
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.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.