There is only a few days to go before the renowned Old Mutual Two Ocean’s Marathon takes place in Cape Town. Runners have been following their training programs rigorously and are now getting ready for a week of tapering (easy, light exercise) before tackling Africa’s biggest running event. It’s super important to give our bodies time to recover from months of strenuous exercise before pushing it to its limits over the 21km or 56km course, and a balanced and nutritious eating plan is essential to assist our bodies in doing so.
I wouldn’t call myself an athlete, but when I train hard and eat properly, I’m a pretty good runner. Last year, I completed the Old Mutual Two Ocean’s Half Marathon in 1 hour 46 minutes and I’m hoping for a personal best again this year. It’s the first time I am following a running program and incorporating cross-training (other sports) into my regime. I found that speed training, hills, yoga, cycling and swimming are great alternative sports to help improve my running performance, but my body worked like never before and I realised I needed to adapt my diet to support my training.
I have been following a plant-based diet for over five years and have experienced the many benefits it offers – especially as a runner. You can read more about why a plant-based diet is ideal for athletes on Nutritionfact.org. To keep track of my nutrition intake and to ensure that I am consuming enough calories (especially during training), I downloaded the Cronometer application. It links with your fitness device and tracks the nutrients in your meals so you can see where you fall short.
Here’s a page from my training and diet diary as an example:
Monday 18 March 2019:
Morning exercise: Bikram Yoga
– Recovery smoothie made with: 200ml Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Unsweetened Almond Milk, 1 banana, ½ cup frozen blueberries, 5x pitted dried dates, 1x tablespoon flax seed powder, 1 cup fresh baby spinach, ¼ teaspoon turmeric, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
– A ginger shot
– 1 cup fresh grapes
– Orange juice
– Green tea with Goji berries
Snack: A cup of coffee made with Almond Breeze Barista Blend Almond Milk with ½ mango, 1 cup sweet melon and 1 banana
Lunch: 1x steamed sweet potato, home-made oil-free coriander hummus, 1/2 avocado, broad beans, edamame beans, and a salad with rocket, cucumber and tomato.
Evening exercise: Easy 10km run
Post-exercise dinner: Spicy chickpea, corn and lentil curry with brown rice and fresh coriander.
Late-night snack: two corn cakes with peanut butter, a handful of almonds and dates and fresh blueberries.
In total I consumed around 2019 calories and burned around 2514 calories.
This week, leading up to race day, I plan to eat similarly: a (mostly wholefoods) 100% plant-based diet including fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and legumes. As my training will be much less, I will also consume less calories, but I won’t lack nutrition. The aim is to fuel my body with enough nutrients and energy to be as strong as possible on Saturday (race day).
For the race weekend, I have a very specific meal plan that I follow. Remember that everyone is different and just because this works for me, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Play around with nutrition during your training but NEVER try anything new on race day.
My Two Ocean’s meal plan:
Friday afternoon: Baked potato or sweet potato, hummus, quinoa, steamed broccoli, baby spinach, tomato, cucumber, roasted pumpkin seeds and nutritional yeast.
Friday night: Lemon Pepper Protein Pasta with chickpea pasta and a big leafy green salad.
Saturday morning pre-run breakfast: Two slices of white bread with peanut butter, banana and Silan date syrup (this combo just works for me, every time).
During run: Dried dates, a raw Nak’d bars and Gu Chews (if needed) with lots of water.
Post run: Trek Protein Bar and water with L-Glutamine powder.
Saturday morning post-run breakfast: Every race is different, but I always try to have a recovery smoothie (or smoothie-bowl ) packed with protein. My favourite recipe at the moment is this Berry Breakfast Bowl: 200ml Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Unsweetened Almond Milk, 1-2 frozen bananas, ½ cup frozen blueberries, 4x pitted dried dates, 1x tablespoon flax seed powder, ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, ½ serving Wazoogles Unicorn Berry Protein Powder, 2 tablespoons Rawlicious Superfoods Berry Delicious Shake, ¼ cup coconut yogurt.
(Top the smoothie bowl with nuts, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and sunflower seeds).
Good luck to everyone running on Saturday – may you enjoy every step of the way!
For more info on my exercise regime and plant-based eating habits, follow me on Instagram and for more delicious plant-based recipes, visit www.leozette.com.