Running a marathon is a huge mental and physical challenge that needs fantastic nutrition. We turned to Michelin-star chef and marathon runner Tom Aikens for a post-race protein feast.

The 2016 London Marathon will be Tom’s third, and although he’ll be running with an Achilles injury, he’s got his race nutrition up to scratch to power him through, both before and after the finish line.


I caught up with Tom at a demo and cookery class hosted by Lucozade Sport in London’s Open Kitchen in Hoxton. Tom demoed two dishes – rocket pesto chicken with roast veg and wholewheat pasta (see recipe below) and sweet potatoes with mixed green veg and poached eggs. I then had a go at making them under Tom’s watchful eye.

With my finished marathon dishes
With my finished marathon dishes (and Tom)

‘I normally eat quite healthily anyway, but I turn the nutrition up a notch when I’m training,’ says Tom. He says he doesn’t believe in eating gels during the race (‘they’re too sugary, they make me gag!’). Instead, on race morning he’ll be filling up with a big bowl of porridge. ‘I use jumbo oats and add chopped prunes and dates. I make it with half milk, half water – that will be plenty to see me through my race.’

Try our pre-race porridge recipes

Make this high protein pasta the night before your race, so it’s ready to devour when you’ve crossed the finish line. Good luck!

Rocket pesto chicken salad with wholewheat pasta

PREP 15 min
COOK 40 min
Serves 4

Tom says: ‘You can use any soft green leaf to make pesto – spinach and kale are really good options. Try using sesame seeds or walnuts instead of pine nuts.’

2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and halved
2tbsp olive oil
4 skinless chicken breasts
2 red onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
2 red peppers, sliced
1tsp chopped fresh thyme
1tsp chopped fresh rosemary
25ml balsamic glaze
200g wholewheat pasta

For the rocket pesto
100g rocket
50g pine nuts
100g parmesan, grated
5 garlic cloves
200ml olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas 5.
2. Put all the pesto ingredients into a blender, season with black pepper and whiz for 30 sec to make a purée.
3. Put the sweet potatoes in an ovenproof dish and drizzle with half the olive oil. Cook for 30 min, turning half way through cooking. Remove and set aside to cool.
4. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, put the chicken breasts in a large baking tray lined with foil and spoon 2tbsp of the pesto on to each. Put the onions, peppers and herbs in a separate baking tray, then add the balsamic glaze and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Toss together. Put both trays in the oven and bake for 18-20 min until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.
5. While the chicken and veg are cooking, add the pasta to a pan of boiling unsalted water and cook according to the pack instructions. Drain and rinse in cold water.
6. To serve, cut the cooked chicken into large pieces and toss into the pasta with the roasted vegetables and 2tbsp of the remaining pesto.

TIP: The pesto will keep in the fridge with a light covering of oil for 4–5 days. Use to top fish before baking, or stir through wholewheat pasta for a speedy supper.

Per serving:
30.6g fat
5.7g saturates
63.5g carbs
17.1g sugars
12.6g fibre
48.6g protein
0.5g salt
199mg calcium
5.1mg iron

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