Contrary to what you may have heard, 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 'carb-loading' two or three days before the race (three days if you prefer a 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, we have put together a plan for a week's worth of meals leading up to the marathon. 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.

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.

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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 (21 April 2024).

This is day four of our week-long vegetarian marathon meal plan. Below, you'll find suggestions what to eat and how much training you should do. For a full 16 week plan, have a look at the London Marathon's training programme.

Thursday training:


Thursday nutrition:

Carbohydrate intake remains raised on Thursday, in preparation for carb-loading starting on Friday. The focus is on complete, high quality, sources of protein at each main meal. The morning snack provides a suitable option for those unable to tolerate dairy.


Budget porridge

Budget porridge with walnuts in two bowls

A creamy, fruity breakfast that you'll look forward to tucking into.

Morning snack

Creamy mango & coconut smoothie

Glass of mango and coconut smoothie topped with passion fruit

This tropical shake with creamy coconut yogurt, mango and passion fruit is free from dairy and soya.


Tomato & pasta soup

Two bowls of tomato, orzo and pesto soup

Make our simple, budget-friendly tomato, pasta and chickpea soup in just 30 minutes. This easy, vegetarian family meal is healthy and even low fat.

Afternoon snack

Frozen fruit sticks

Skewered fruit next to a pot of sauce

This colourful, sweet snack is a great source of vitamin C.


Spinach, sweet potato & lentil dhal

Lentil dhal with sweet potato on a plate with a fork

This veggie one-pot recipe counts as three of your five-a-day. It's iron-rich and low-fat, too.

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

Want more like this? Now try...

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.


All health content on 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.

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