Eating for marathon training doesn’t have to be stressful. These easy recipes will help boost your recovery and ensure you’re eating a variety of easy meals to boost performance.
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As marathon training continues to ramp up, I know quick, easy dinners will become more and more important. So, I thought putting together a list of EASY, QUICK recipes would be helpful not only for me, but for others who are looking for an eating plan for marathon training.
Many of these are perfectly aligned with our sports nutrition course recommendations for fueling well, too!
Eating For Marathon Training: The Basics
Whether you’re marathon training or not, you gotta love and appreciate the tiniest bit of meal prep to make your post run meals and snacks easier. And there’s a reason meal delivery for athletes exists, too. I’m a big fan of being practical and utilizing it when possible.
I love going out to eat but it’s not feasible for my family (or wallet) to do it more than occasionally. So, we had to come up with a system that works for eating at home. Nights are usually rushed, especially on nights I’m seeing clients.
But, it’s definitely possible to still eat healthy while training and busy.
Stock Your Kitchen
When thinking about making meals for marathon runners, you definitely want to have ingredients and appliances in your kitchen to speed up cooking.
Here’s what I suggest:
- Stock your pantry! You need to have easy ingredients on hand to make easy meals.
- Invest in some devices to make your life easier. I suggest:
- a good cast iron skillet
- a slowcooker and/or instant pot (to make instant pot bbq meatballs)
- meal prep containers so you have the capacity to store meals (I prefer these to plastic because they are reusable and more environmentally friendly)
- avocado/fruit/veggie covers so you can prevent food waste! At least for me, this entices me to buy more products knowing I can save them after using them once.
- a strong blender. I rely on the ninja for all of my smoothies and even baked good recipes.
- Nice to have addition’s (but not necessary)
Forming Your Marathon Eating Plan
So, let’s talk about how we can use these products to make easy recipes for marathon training season.
When eating for marathon training, you want to have a loose marathon eating plan. Meaning, a strategy to eat sufficient energy to avoid being in a relative energy deficit state or underfueling. This post goes more into the dangers of not eating enough calories.
With work, kids, church, family and other obligations, there’s a lot to be done, on top of training and sleep. Ideally, at least 7 hours a night to help with recovery and performance.
As mentioned in the Current Sports Medicine Report, “Along with being an integral part of the recovery and adaptive process between bouts of exercise, accumulating evidence suggests that increased sleep duration and improved sleep quality in athletes are associated with improved performance and competitive success.”
Carbohydrates should always be the base and main part of a performance plate for many reasons. First, it is the quickest and most efficient source of fuel for endurance activity, so athletes will constantly be relying on carbohydrates for activity and recovery.
Having ready-to-make meals available or that can be made quickly will greatly improve your nutrition. We know that the co-ingestion of carbohydrate and protein has positive effects on post-exercise recovery in endurance athletes, in comparison to carbohydrate alone (2).
Secondly, eating ample carbohydrates means the muscles can be sufficiently filled, and draw from those glycogen stores when necessary. Therefore, make lots of meals that revolve around carbohydrates!
This is what carbs are the mainstay of what to eat before running in the morning.
These foods include:
- potatoes and sweet potatoes
Many of these healthy snacks for athletes are also high in carbs, making easy eating-on-the-go!
Having protein sources available, like fish, dairy products, beans and lentils, chicken, seafood, whole grains and more, will increase the likelihood of eating enough protein throughout the day and around training workouts.
Protein for endurance athletes is higher than you may think!
Specifically, ingesting protein (especially post exercise leucine) after exercise has been associated with reduced post-exercise muscle soreness, attenuated biomarkers of sarcolemmal disruption (i.e., creatine kinase and myoglobin), enhanced mood/energy states, recovery of muscle function, and subsequent exercise performance.
So, let’s get to some easy meals for marathon training.
20 Minute Meals
As a mom and entrepreneur with a husband who travels for work, 20-30 minute meals are a must in our kitchen. Every once in a while, I can go for a long, drawn-out homecooked recipe that takes an hour or so.
But more often than not, I need quick recipes that taste good and provide nutrition for my family and myself, which is why I usually recycle many of these Wednesday night dinner ideas and Thursday night dinner ideas.
Many of these recipes fall into the following categories:
- Sheet Pan Meals
- Air Fryer Meals
- High iron Meals
- Easy seafood meals (Omega 3‘s are great for reducing inflammation associated with marathon training!)
- Slow cooker and Instant Pot Meals
As you can see, there are several easy recipes that make marathon nutrition and healthy eating easy with a busy training schedule.
If you want more breakfast recipes, snack recipes or vegetarian recipes for athletes, this post includes 51 Healthy Recipes for Athletes that span the board for pre-workout breakfasts, post-workout smoothies and easy portable snack options.
Want To Check Out More of the Marathon Training Series?
If you’re interested in more nutrition posts geared towards runners, you may want to check out:
- The Best Recovery Foods for Endurance Exercise
- Marathon Training Nutrition 101
- 5 Nutrition Tips to Help with Runners Gut
- Race Day Nutrition: What to eat pre race, during a race and post race
- The Truth on Low Carb Diets for Running
- Watson, Andrew. (2017). Sleep and Athletic Performance. Curr Sports Med Rep, 16(6):413-418.
- Saunders, Michael et al. (2015). Protein Supplementation During or Following a Marathon Run Influences Post Exercise Recovery. Nutrients; 10(3):333.