Here are some nutrition tips for plant-based runners for the days leading up to a race, as well as a sampling of what I ate this week with a half-marathon coming up this weekend! Some of the recipes are from my own blog, and some are from other blogs. I have linked all of the recipes!
I have been a vegetarian for almost 9 of the 11 years that I have been running, so I have had plenty of time to learn about fueling for a long distance running event on a plant-based diet.
Above all else, I think that it’s important not to obsess over macronutrient ratios. What works for one person might not work for another due to our biochemical individuality. I have found that gradually increasing the amount of carbohydrates I consume over the course of the week before a race works well, but I don’t rigorously track consumption of any particular food or nutrient. I simply make sure that I am eating whole grains, like sprouted or sourdough bread, quinoa, buckwheat, or brown rice, or another complex carbohydrate, like sweet potato, at every meal, along with moderate amounts of protein and fat. I am lucky in that fibre doesn’t bother my stomach, so I am able to eat plenty of beans, fruit, and vegetables without any problems. If you are not able to tolerate fibre well, particularly with pre-race nerves throwing another curveball at your digestive system, I would recommend cutting back on beans and replacing them with tofu, which is very low in fibre but still provides plenty of satiating and muscle-building protein.
I also try to ensure that I am eating enough throughout the day so that my body is able to rebuild fully after a hard training cycle! I’ll try to include snacks like veggies and hummus, homemade granola bars or power cookies, or berries with yogurt and hemp hearts, to satisfy my hunger in between meals.
Without further ado, here are some of my favourite meal and snack ideas for endurance training in general, and race week in particular:
- CHOCOLATE QUINOA BOWL FOR ONE
1 ½ cups cooked quinoa
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1.5 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Pinch of fine sea salt
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Warm all ingredients in a medium saucepan and top transfer to a bowl. Top with sliced banana, berries, nut butter, and hemp hearts.
This hearty breakfast bowl is packed with protein and complex carbs from the quinoa, as well as a dose of satiating healthy fat from the almond butter.
- SOURDOUGH/SPROUTED GRAIN TOAST WITH NUT BUTTER, BANANA, AND/OR JAM
This one is rather self-explanatory, but it’s a classic. Serve it with a glass of cold non-dairy milk for the full experience.
Again, this breakfast has plenty of complex carbohydrates, healthy fat, and protein.
My favourite tofu scramble is ultra flavourful and packs more protein than two scrambled eggs. Serve it with some avocado toast and lightly dressed greens to round out the meal.
I’m not always good at eating the most well-balanced lunches, as they usually consist of leftovers while at work or a taste of a recipe that I’ve just developed if I’m at home. However, during the week before I race, I try hard to hone in on this all-important mid-day meal. These three lunches ended up being my favourites in a long time!
- Vegan Mediterranean Un-Tuna Salad with Quinoa, Veggies, and Sauerkraut
This meal features quinoa and chickpeas for complex carbs and protein, and vegan mayonnaise and dressing for fat.
Channel your inner speedster with this Ethiopian plate. Simply make my Berebere Lentil Tacos, but instead of stuffing the filling into tortillas, put it all on a plate and use a tortilla to scoop up all the goodness.
- BEYOND BURGER BOWL
I didn’t have a chance to photograph any of my own dinners this week, as I was either working in the evening or eating after the sun had gone down. Here are some recommendations for dinners to eat in the days leading up to a race:
- SWEET POTATO TORTILLAS with KALE PESTO WHITE BEAN DIP from The First Mess, plus lettuce, tomato, and olives, and perhaps a kale salad with baked tofu on the side.
- Homemade Beet Hummus
- Double Chocolate Protein Bars
- Chocolate Cake Batter Smoothie
- Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Shake
Well, if you’ve read this far, you deserve a medal! I hope that this post has given you some ideas about how to fuel optimally before a long distance race. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask them in the comments or by emailing me through my contact page!