This month thousands of people received the (hopefully) welcome news that they had won a place on the 2014 Virgin London Marathon – one of the most famous races in the world.

If you are one of the lucky 37,000 to be running in the race in April next year, it’s wise to already be thinking about your training plan to get your fitness levels up and to keep injuries at bay. There are many websites offering a wealth of information, and the Virgin Marathon and Asics websites are safe places to start for good, solid training plans.

But a detailed training plan isn’t all you need to think about. You need to eat the right things too, and the best place to start doing that is to look at how your current diet stacks up. As with any sensible balanced diet, when you’re in training for an event it’s vital to make sure you’re getting a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, as well as plenty of wholegrains like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and wholemeal bread.

You should also keep processed foods, especially those high in saturated fat, to a minimum – you don’t want to carry too much extra weight around in training and on the big day! Eat more fish and aim to have oily fish such as salmon or mackerel at least once a week. You should also drink plenty of water to keep well hydrated.

What you eat during training and on the day of the event it is really important and can greatly impact your performance, so make sure you work out what suits you. If you’re off on a long run (more than an hour), have a low-fat and low-to-moderate protein meal with plenty of carbohydrates at least 2-3 hours beforehand to give you time to digest it. Porridge with a serving of fruit is one that always works for me. Or you could try Jamie’s homemade crumpets with raspberries and honey.

For post-run meals or drinks you need a ratio of 3:1 of carbohydrates to protein, to replenish the glycogen lost from your muscles and to help with muscle repair.  Some great recipes from Jamie that tick that box include his kiwi fruit, ginger and banana smoothie, which you can prepare in advance and drink immediately after your run, and Jamie’s veggie chilli. It’s from Jamie’s 15-minute Meals so it’s super easy to cook and is a real winner with keen runners because the rice and tortilla makes up our carbohydrate element and the beans are a good source of protein.

About the author

Laura Matthews

Laura is head of nutrition at Jamie Oliver. Her passion for food comes from having cooking lessons at a local college from the age of 10, and the nutrition side from a fascination for how the right foods can fuel the body.

Laura Matthews