Let’s do lunch. With the Vermont City Marathon just around the corner, it is a perfect time to schedule a lunch date…with yourself. Lots of runners I work with often skip lunch in lieu of sneaking in a quick mid-day run. If that is you, now is not the time to continue such habits. In these last days leading up to race day it is important to really nail down the nutritional portion of your training. Here are some possible scenarios to ensure race day success.

Fuel up your breakfast. If you really must use your lunch hour for a training run, make sure you fuel up at breakfast time. Take the time to sit down to a meal that is ¾ slow burning carbs and ¼ protein. Limit your fat intake if you plan to run at lunch time. A few of my favorites are toast with egg whites and a piece of fruit or yogurt with granola and berries. Snack throughout the morning; mostly on carbs. Keep eating until the hour before your lunch time run. One snack per hour would be the goal. A banana, a granola bar, or half of a bagel are some ideas. If you are planning to push hard on your lunch time run, sip on a sports drink in the hour before your lunch run. Plan to eat a meal within the hour of finishing your run. Focus again on ¾ complex carbs and ¼ protein to refill those glycogen stores and repair those muscles.

Amp up your lunch. Not running at lunch? Then it becomes one of those important training meals. Undereating and poor hydration will not only affect a run later in the day, but tomorrow’s run, and race day as well. You need to train your muscles to correctly process and store fuel. Think of lunch as the power meal that is integral to your performance. I love lunch meals that keep it simple by combining complex carbohydrates, protein, and a healthy fat all into one meal. Aim for about 600-800 calories. Here are some of my favorite combinations:

  • Sweet potato, black bean, avocado and corn salad with some grilled shrimp (or tempeh)
  • Baked potato, salmon, mixed greens, berries, and toasted almonds
  • Wild rice or quinoa salad with a chicken breast or smoked tofu on top
  • Wraps or a sandwich: Turkey or smoked tofu, baby spinach, avocado, and roasted red pepper

Enjoy this recipe for wild rice salad. I make a big batch and keep it in the refrigerator for five days.

RECIPE: Wild Rice (or Farro) Salad with Dried Cherries and Toasted Walnuts

  • 1 1/2 cups wild rice or farro
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Put wild rice in a small pot with about 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook rice until tender and the grains split in the middle, about 30 minutes. You may have to add water periodically; it is best to have to rice covered with water at all times for even cooking. Drain rice in a strainer to remove any extra water and transfer to a mixing bowl. In another bowl, combine the lemon juice, Dijon, vinegar and oil. Whisk together and then pour over the rice, you may not need all the dressing, depending on your taste. Add cherries and walnuts, season with salt and pepper and toss together. Top with fresh parley to serve.

Recipe courtesy of Healthy Living Market.

Keep reading this blog: Next week, I’ll share nutritional advice for the perfect pre-race dinner: the power of nutrition meets the pleasure of eating. Happy running.

Kimberly Evans, RD, is a clinical nutritionist at the UVM Medical Center. Read her additional blog posts about preparing for a marathon by eating right, including “What to Eat the Week Before a Marathon” and “Quick Ways to Fuel Up Your Run.”

Kim Evans, RD, is a clinical dietitian for UVM Medical Center's Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention Program.

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