In the run-up to the London marathon, resident expert baker and veteran marathon runner Beca Lyne-Pirkis shares her tips on keeping full and fuelled during training
Words and images: Beca Lyne-Pirkis
I ran my first marathon in 2006 and it blew my mind. I loved it. The training, the food and of course the big day itself. I loved running before, but after that I was addicted. Back then, there weren’t any online groups and Twitter didn’t exist. I didn’t belong to a running club, I would just read Runner’s World magazine to get all the information I thought I’d need for training.
When it came to nutrition, I would guess my way through what would be good for my body—a bit of trial and error, but it seemed to work. My first marathon is still my fastest: I ran it in 4:10:12.
I’ve never had a ‘runner’s’ body, I’m tall-ish, but not lean. But what I lack in lean-ness, I make up for in shear stubbornness, determination and competitiveness. I always say I’m not built for speed; I’m built for distance, which explains my preference for cross country over the 800m sprint when I was at school.
Baffling and contradictory
Since that first marathon I’ve run five more, as well as countless half marathons and other distance races, all to help with marathon training and getting into the race mind-set. When it comes to fitting food around exercise, especially running, there’s so much information out there it can get a little baffling and contradictory.
At the end of the day, it’s personal. Some foods may not agree with everyone and the time of eating ahead of a run again differs from person to person.
This is what I do and it works for me. Ahead of a marathon, I normally train for five to six days per week, for four to six months ahead of race day. I enjoy doing a mixture of short and long runs, interval or speed runs, circuits and pilates—a good mix of core, strength and cardio training, which helps with general fitness, as well as endurance.
Being a mum
When I’m working out this much and need to focus on work during the day, as well as being a mum, what I eat becomes especially important, as it needs to fuel me during training, as well as through a ‘normal’ day—and taste good, of course!
Breakfast would consist of either a bowl of porridge made with half water and half milk, a pinch of salt, a squeeze of honey, a banana and some cinnamon, or two pieces of wholemeal toast with peanut butter, banana and cinnamon.
Lunch was always a salad consisting of either chicken or tuna, feta cheese, a boiled egg, avocado, celery, peppers, spring onion, cucumber, carrot—whatever veg I had in the fridge—and a dressing made simply of lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper.
Supper would be pasta, green vegetables and chicken or tuna, or something like a nasi goreng—a spicy Malaysian rice dish—or fish with new potatoes and vegetables.
A good mix of carbs, fats and protein, include plenty of colourful vegetables and fruit and of course, lots of water. If you’re concerned about your diet and training, then please speak to your GP who will refer you to a dietician or a nutritional therapist.
If you’re training for the marathon this year, good luck! I’ll be back again next month with some handy tips for first-timers, as well as some tasty recipes.