Check out the London Marathon's training and meal plans. Don't have a spot to run this year? You can still take part with the virtual event London Marathon MyWay – join up for your chance to run 26.2 miles on marathon day, 21st April 2024.

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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.

With an increase in the number of runners following a vegetarian diet (or even 'flexitarian' one, including meat with some meals), we have put together a plan for a week's worth of meals leading up to the marathon to suit those requirements. A well-structured vegetarian diet should deliver the main macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat) required during training, but vegetarians should also make sure they are getting enough iron and B12 (both important for energy production).

While these recipes provide a good framework, there will also be times where an extra serving of higher-protein foods (such as dairy, pulses, grains, nuts and seeds) can be added to meals to increase the overall daily intake.

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.

More like this

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 the TCS London Marathon to plan your nutrition for this day.

Monday training:

10 mins marathon pace, 20 mins half-marathon pace, 10 mins marathon pace.
* Beginner's guidelines as recommended by the TCS London Marathon.

Monday nutrition:

Carbohydrate intake is maintained at breakfast and lunch to support training volume for today. Protein and healthy fat intakes are also important for the ongoing growth and repair of the muscles. Options are nutrient-rich and provide sufficient fibre for healthy gut function. Snacks are included as optional depending on your preferences.

Breakfast
Vanilla-almond chia breakfast bowl

Chia & almond overnight oats

Start the day with energising oats and omega-3-rich chia seeds with this delicious breakfast. It's vegan, but you can use cow's milk and yogurt, if you prefer

Morning snack
Super berry smoothie

Super berry smoothie

Frozen berries are a thrifty way of creating a healthy smoothie - pad it out with oats to make it extra filling.

Lunch
Chickpea & coriander burgers

Chickpea and coriander burgers in buns with relish and red onion

High in fibre, low in fat and counting as two of your five-a-day, this tasty veggie burger delivers on every level.

Afternoon snack
Hummus snack packs

A pot of hummus with vegetable crudites

Save the liquid from a can of chickpeas to make a creamy hummus. We’ve served it with vegetable crudités for a healthy snack that contributes to your 5-a-day

Dinner
Kidney bean curry

Kidney bean curry

Enjoy this kidney bean curry without rice and serve with a 10-minute stir-fry instead. This is a great rescue recipe for when there's nothing in the fridge or when you fancy something cheap, delicious and filling. It's healthy and vegan-friendly, too.

Go back to the week-long vegetarian marathon meal plan.

Not vegetarian? Try our basic, vegan and gluten-free marathon meal plans.

Find more expert advice and answers to your training questions in our marathon hub.


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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