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.

Tuesday training:

Rest
* Beginner's guidelines as recommended by the TCS London Marathon.

Tuesday nutrition:

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. Earlier in the week is a great opportunity to boost micronutrient intake, such as folate and magnesium, both important for energy production.

Breakfast
Breakfast egg wraps

Breakfast egg wraps filled with mushrooms

Enjoy these protein-rich egg wraps filled with mushrooms and tomatoes for a quick, filling and healthy breakfast. It provides iron, folate and fibre.

Alternative option: Melting tomato & basil omelette

Lunch
Quinoa salad with avocado mayo

Quinoa salad with avocado mayo on a white plate with a pink background

Easy to put together and full of flavour, this healthy lunch option proides iron, folate, vitamin C and fibre. Make it vegetarian by leaving out the chicken.

Alternative option: Puy lentil salad with soy beans, sugar snap peas & broccoli

Afternoon snack
Chinese spiced seed mix

Two bowls of spiced seeds

Make these healthy, spiced sunflower and pumpkin seeds next time you crave a snack. This recipe can be made ahead and offers a healthy dose of nutritious fats and fibre.

Alternative option: Chickpea Bombay-style mix

Dinner
Tempeh traybake

tempeh traybake on a white roasting dish with a blue background

Try our tasty tempeh-based traybake for dinner. Tempeh is a nutrient-rich plant protein made from fermented soya beans that's easier to digest. This simple dish is packed full of vegetables and slow-release carbs for nutrition and recovery.

Alternative recipe:
Ginger sweet tofu with pak choi served with chilli green salad

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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