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MARATHON-TRAINING MEAL PLAN

PRE-RUN MORNING SNACK: Crunchy Coffee Cocoa Shake
Smoothies provide an easily digestible source of carbohydrates to restock your glycogen stores after a night of sleep. The fluid helps you rehydrate while the coffee provides an energy boost to carry you through your run.

Makes: 1 serving
Total time: 5 minutes

1/2 cup chilled coffee
1/2 cup fat free milk
1 frozen banana, sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted almonds
2 teaspoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder

Place the coffee, milk, banana, almonds, and cocoa powder in a blender. Process until nearly smooth.

 

POST-RUN RECOVERY BREAKFAST: Stick-with-You Polenta
Made with milk and topped with almonds, quick-cooking polenta is loaded with energising carbohydrates to restock your energy stores and protein for muscle repair. Topping it with dried blueberries and almonds provides a health-boosting antioxidant punch. Polenta is also easy on the stomach – good news for runners who often feel queasy post-run.

Makes: 2 servings
Total time: 10 minutes

2 1/2 cups fat-free milk
1/2 cup instant polenta
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup chopped almonds
2 tablespoons honey
Ground cinnamon

Add 2 cups of the milk to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta, stirring for 5 minutes, or until thick. Stir in the blueberries, almonds, and honey. Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste. Divide the polenta into 2 bowls and top each with 1/4 cup of the remaining milk.

 

LUNCH: Chicken Pita with Sun-Dried Tomato Spread
A hearty chicken sandwich on a whole-wheat pita will satisfy your growling stomach. Topping it with avocado adds heart-healthy (and hunger-squashing) monounsaturated fats, while sun-dried tomato spread and arugula provide inflammation-reducing antioxidants.

Makes: 4 servings
Total time: 35 minutes

10 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup sliced roasted red capsicum
2 tablespoons water
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup fresh mint
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt
4 whole wheat pitas (15cm), cut in half
225g cooked rotisserie chicken
1 1/2 cups arugula
1 avocado, sliced

Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl of warm water for 30 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, 1/3 cup of the red capsicum, the water, garlic, walnuts, mint, oregano, cayenne, and salt to taste. Process until smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary. If the spread is too thick, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time.

Place 1 tablespoon of the tomato spread in each pita half. Stuff each pita with an equal amount of the chicken, arugula, avocado, and remaining 2/3 cup red capsicum.

 

AFTERNOON SNACK: Spiced Pecans (RECIPE, below) and Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn
Nuts offer protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants to fuel your running and recovery. Like all nuts, pecans are high in fat, with about 840 kilojoules and 20 grams of fat per 28 grams (about 20 pecan halves). But the heart-healthy unsaturated fat can help reduce LDL (“bad”cholesterol) and raise HDL (“good” cholesterol). They’re also packed with bone-strengthening magnesium. Popcorn is a carb-packed, fibre-rich whole grain. Keep it healthy by popping your own (or buying pre-popped plain) and seasoning it with a touch of oil and a sprinkle of dried rosemary and Parmesan.

Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn
Makes: 1 serving
Total time: 5 minutes

2 tablespoons plain popcorn kernels
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Place the popcorn kernels in a paper bag. Fold down the top a couple of times, leaving room in the bag for the kernels to pop. Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes, until popping slows down to a couple seconds between pops. Give the bag a few shakes to encourage unpopped kernels to pop. Be careful not to burn yourself with steam when opening the bag. Transfer the popcorn to a bowl and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle with the rosemary and cheese. Toss well to coat evenly.

 

DINNER: Grilled Beef Fajitas with Creamy Coleslaw
Distance runners are at particularly high risk of developing iron deficiency, which can leave you feeling sluggish and tired. Beef is one of the richest sources of this mineral. It’s also high in zinc, which plays a key role in maintaining a strong immune system – good news, since hard training can lower your body’s immune response, making you more susceptible to viruses. Grass-fed beef is a particularly healthy choice, since it contains less total fat than conventionally raised beef and has more omega-3 fatty acids. Pair it with a healthy, low-fat coleslaw.

Makes: 6 servings
Total time: 1 hour 25 minutes (including marinating time)

1/2 cup chopped coriander
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic, or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
900g flank steak
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 green or red capsicums, cut into thin strips
1 large onion, thinly sliced
18 small (15cm) corn tortillas
2 tomatoes, diced
1 avocado

Place the coriander, lime juice, cumin, granulated garlic or garlic powder, paprika, and minced garlic into a resealable plastic bag. Seal the bag and shake it to mix the ingredients. Open the bag and add the flank steak. Seal the bag again and turn to coat the meat with the mixture. Put the bag in the refrigerator and let the meat marinate for 40 minutes, being sure to turn it over at least once.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the capsicums and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until softened and beginning to brown. Transfer the capsicums to a serving bowl.

Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until softened and beginning to brown. Transfer the onion to a separate serving bowl.

When the meat is done marinating, coat a grill rack with cooking spray and preheat the grill. Cook the meat over medium-high heat for 7 minutes per side, or until medium-rare. Remove the meat from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm the tortillas for about 5 minutes in a warm oven or 30 seconds in a microwave on high power. Put the tomatoes in a small serving bowl. Peel and dice the avocado and place in another small serving bowl. Set them on the table, along with the capsicums, onion, and warmed tortillas. Thinly slice the meat and serve it with the fajita fixings and the tortillas.

 

DESSERT: Chocolate Berry Crisp
The good news about training for a marathon is that it does leave you with a bit more wiggle room for slightly indulgent treats. This chocolate berry crisp still has plenty of good-for-you nutritional value, including fibre from oats and inflammation-reducing antioxidants from the berries and chocolate.

Makes: 8 servings
Total time: 50 minutes

2 bags (340g each) frozen mixed berries, such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries, thawed and drained, or 5 cups fresh berries
2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup dark or bittersweet chocolate chips
Vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 175°C. In a bowl, mix the berries and cornstarch. (If using thawed frozen fruit, use the higher amount of cornstarch.) Pour the fruit into a 20cm x 20cm glass baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine the honey, oats, wheat germ, brown sugar, cinnamon and almonds. Spread over the berry mixture. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven and top evenly with the chocolate chips. Return the dish to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the chocolate is melted. Serve warm topped with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

RECIPE
Nate Appleman’s Spiced Pecans
A two-time marathoner, culinary whizz, and RW contributing chef, Nate Appleman shed 38 kilograms when he cut back on sweets and started logging at least 55 kilometres a week.

Makes: 20 servings (about 30 grams or 2 tablespoons each)
Total time: 20 minutes

5 cups shelled pecans
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.

In a large bowl, combine the pecans, soy sauce, cayenne, coriander seeds, turmeric, black pepper, brown sugar and oil. Mix well to coat the pecans evenly.

Spread the pecans out in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring the pecans once halfway through. Let the pecans cool, then store in an airtight container.

For more information, purchase our November 2013 issue of Runner’s World.

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