Running a marathon is no easy feat. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a first timer, finishing 26.2 miles is one of the most difficult accomplishments one can pursue. Thus, in order to prepare for the event, you need to train your body for the weeks and months leading up to the event to insure you are ready. One significant factor that can make or break any training cycle is the meals you eat to fuel your runs and support your recovery and improvement. The important things to include are carbs for energy, protein for muscle development and power, and fruits and vegetables to provide your cells with necessary nutrients. Following I will provide some staple meals that will be sure to keep you cruising through the miles.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
The most widely known runner food–pasta. It is the go to meal for the night before a race as a means of carbo loading but it is also appropriate for fueling you through training. The issue with pasta alone is that although it provides us with our carbohydrates, that’s about all it gives us. Thus we need to insure we include a variety of other foods with this meal as well.
A great addition is some sort of red meat. While you can feel free to add steak or whatever type of beef you want, I typically make a meat sauce or meat balls to accompany my pasta. The great thing about red meat is that it not only packs protein but also iron and vitamin b12 which aid in red blood cell development–a very important thing for endurance athletes.
When it comes to choosing your pasta noodle it is always preferable to choose a whole grain pasta over the standard durum wheat. Whole grain pasta provides more fiber and protein as well as naturally supplying b vitamins whereas they are artificially added to white pasta. If you do not like the taste of whole grain noodles, vegetable noodles are also a good alternative to white.
Finally it is nice to add a vegetable component beyond simply using tomato sauce. Some of my go to vegetables to include are onions, peppers, spinach, mushrooms, or even eggplant. You can choose to cook these vegetables or add them raw, your choice. Get creative with it!
Chicken Beans and Rice
Rice can also play the role of your central source of carbohydrates in your meal. Just like pasta brown rice is preferable to white rice, yet both provide you with sufficient carbohydrates to fuel your training.
Beans are great to pair with rice since neither provide all essential amino acids on their own yet together they cover all of them. Rice and beans therefore is a complete protein. Beans additionally provide carbs, protein, fiber, and b vitamins– especially folate which is difficult to attain otherwise and also essential to red blood cells development.
Even though you are already getting a complete protein it may be a good idea to add chicken as well since it is much more protein dense than rice and beans. Chicken is a great protein since it is very lean and thus provides protein without all the fat and calories that are sometimes present in other meats.
Just like last time don’t skimp out on the vegetables. While it is great to get creative to get a wide varierty or nutrients, some of my favorite vegetables to add in here are asparagus or steamed broccoli.
Salmon and potatoes
Another great source of carbs that often gets a bad rap is the potato. Since it is often fried and processed in the form of French fries and hash browns we seem to overlook it to fuel our activities. While preparation can range from baked to mashed to grilled fries, they all offer similar nutrition makeup when kept relatively exclusively to just potatoes.
My favorite way to make them is by cutting them into fries and grilling them. Be careful however to keep them on low heat as they can burn easily and take a while to cook all the way through. This way we can avoid adding fats and oils to keep out taters healthy. I simply add a little bit of garlic salt and eat them with ketchup. You won’t miss the oil, I promise!
Just like our other two carbohydrates we have options. While normal potatoes and sweet potatoes have different benefits to offer, sweet potatoes are often viewed as healthier. If you choose to use sweet potatoes prepastation is nearly the same, it may only differ in seasoning as they have differing tastes.
Along with these sweet potatoes a great protein is salmon. It is low in fat like chicken, high in vitamin b12, and additionally packs a dose of omega 3 fatty acids. Furthermore you may find these two foods compliment each other exceptionally.
We have already included veggies in this meal with our carbs but that doesn’t mean you can’t add some more! Asparagus and broccoli are great choices once again to pile on the nutrition but the choice is up to you!
These three staple foods are great go to meals to keep your body healthy and energized on the roads. Just like a car, the better the fuel you put in your body the better it will perform. Thererore choose high octane meals like these ones provided and see you at the finish line!