Mar | 27
Fuel Up

7 Runner-Friendly Recipes to Fuel for your Next Race

Your next big race is coming up and you’ve got everything in order. Race bib? Check. Running shoes? Check. Water bottle and energy gel? Check. Entourage of family and friends cheering you on along the course? Check!

But what about your pre-race meal? Everything on race day is taken care of, but sometimes the day before can use some extra attention, too. That’s why we asked our lovely Blog Ambassadors to help put together some delicious, healthy, pre-race meals with the help of Kyle Pfaffenbach, the nutritionist for the Brooks Beasts Track Club. Kyle recommends these 10 foods to start with:

  • 1. Sweet Potatoes
  • 2. Whole wheat pasta
  • 3. Quinoa

These foods are high in complex carbohydrates. They serve runners by filling muscle glycogen stores, which are a major energy source during high intensity workouts and races.

  • 4. Salmon (also source of polyunsaturated fats)
  • 5. Eggs
  • 6. Mixed Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios)
These foods provide quality proteins. Consuming enough protein is critical for recovery and providing muscles with what they need to recover from and adapt to training stress.
  • 7. Radishes
  • 8. Tomatoes
  • 9. Apples
  • 10. Mixed Greens (spinach, spring mix, arugala)
Every balanced diet requires a lot of fruits and vegetables and are critical to runners because they provide the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to keep the immune system strong and metabolic processes optimized.
Read on for seven recipes that use these ingredients to make delicious, healthy pre-race meals that will fuel you as you run happy next time you’re out on the course.

1. Quinoa & Roasted Salmon Salad

by Anne at Fannetastic Food
  • Leafy greens
  • Cooked quinoa (~1/2 to 3/4 cup per serving)
  • 1 cooked salmon filet (I used this recipe)
  • Diced apple
  • Balsamic vinaigrette dressing (I used this recipe, minus the garlic)

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Start with a bed of kale, then add the quinoa, then the salmon and chopped apples, and top it off with the balsamic vinaigrette.

Anne says: This would make a perfect easy dinner some night, regardless of whether you are running the next morning or not, but if you are – rest assured that you will be well fueled.

2. Lemon Butter Salmon Quinoa Salad

by Janae at Hungry Runner Girl


  • Quinoa
  • Leafy greens
  • Salmon filet
  • Radishes
  • Lemon

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Cook quinoa in rice cooker (Janae throws in some garlic and oregano when she cook this). Lay out your mixed greens (spinach, spring mix, arugula) and top with cooked quinoa (Jane uses about a 1/2 cup) and thinly sliced radishes. Season both sides of your salmon with lemon pepper and heat pan with a little butter and garlic.
Cook salmon 10 minutes per inch of thickness (flip salmon 1/2 way through).  Throw it on top of the quinoa and top with fresh lemon juice and/or balsamic vinaigrette.

Janae says: Boom… you get your complex carbohydrates (key energy source for intense workouts and races), high quality proteins (salmon is also a great source of polyunsaturated fats) and veggies (gives you the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to keep your immune system strong and metabolic processes optimized) all in one meal.

3. Quinoa Quiche

By Meghann at Meals and Miles


  • 1 C Cooked quinoa
  • 8 Eggs
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 C Kale
  • Salt and pepper

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Preheat oven to 375. Beat eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Chop kale and tomato into bite size pieces. Place in a small microwave safe bowl, add a tablespoon of water, place in microwave on high for 1 minute. Grease a cake pan. Line bottom with cooked quinoa. Add veggies. Pour eggs on top. Bake for 35 minutes at 375.Meghann says: It’s a fairly simple recipe for an easy post-workout weeknight meal. Enjoy!

Meghann says: It’s a fairly simple recipe for an easy post-workout weeknight meal. Enjoy!

4. Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

By: Jesica at rUnladylike


  • 1 cup whole grain quinoa uncooked (I use Eden Organic)
  • 1 and ¼ cup chicken stock (I use Kitchen Basics unsalted)
  • 4 large firm, ripe tomatoes
  • 4 slices nitrite/nitrate-free all natural bacon (such as Applegate)
  • ½ cup onion finely chopped
  • ½ cup zucchini finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ cup Portobello or baby bella mushrooms, stems and gills removed, finely chopped
  • 2 cups spinach
  • ¼ cup scallions, green part only, chopped
  • ½ tablespoon fresh thyme
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons grated parmesan (use freshly grated or Sartori brand … I LOVE Sartori)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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Preheat oven to 500 degrees (or broil setting). Prepare the quinoa according to package directions, using chicken stock instead of water. Omit any salt if package directions call for it. Set aside.

Slice the stem/top off each tomato using a paring knife. Carefully hollow out each tomato using the paring knife to cut a circle around the pulp and seeds and using a spoon to scoop out the pulp and seeds. The tomatoes should look like tiny cups or bowls. Place the tomatoes cut-side down on paper towels to let drain.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon according to package directions on a skillet over medium heat (this should take about 6 to 8 minutes, turning once). Once cooled, finely chop the bacon. In the same skillet, use the bacon fat to sauté the onion, garlic, mushrooms, zucchini and thyme until soft and tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the spinach, green onion and bacon and cook until the spinach is wilted. (For a lighter version, cook in a different skillet with just 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil.)

Add the quinoa to the vegetable and bacon mixture and stir until combined. Stir in ½ cup of Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.Remove the tomatoes from the paper towels and place them cut-side up on a baking sheet that is lightly oiled (to prevent sticking). Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Scoop the quinoa mixture evenly into each tomato cup. Sprinkle the top of each stuffed tomato with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Broil the stuffed tomatoes for 30 seconds or until the cheese is melted. Remove and serve immediately.

Jesica says: If you are someone like me who enjoys tomatoes in recipes but not eating whole tomatoes, an easy spin on this recipe is to chop up 2 tomatoes (pulp and seeds removed) and sauté them with the other vegetables above, creating a quinoa and vegetable side dish instead of the quinoa inside the tomatoes. Or, you can follow the instructions above but use a red bell pepper instead of a tomato for the “cup.” Roast the pepper for 10 minutes cut-side down on 400 before stuffing it with the quinoa. Note: You will likely have extra quinoa mixture left over. Store the leftovers in the refrigerator and eat for lunch with grilled chicken the next day or serve as a side dish with another meal.

5. Sweet Potato Apple Banana Pancakes

By Cori at OlivetoRun


  • 1 1/2 Large [or 2 medium] Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 Medium Eggs
  • 1 Large Banana
  • Pinch of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Pumpkin Pie spice [can be substituted with pumpkin pie puree]
  • 1 small Granny Smith Apple
  • A splash of unsweetened almond milk [I used Silk].

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Peel your sweet potatoes and cut them into small cubes. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water, cover and microwave for approximately 5-6 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are soft. Add in cinnamon, mash up with a fork and let cool slightly.

Add in one large ripe banana, two eggs and mix. Add pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, a little more cinnamon and finally, your splash of unsweetened almond milk. Whisk until smooth.

Finally, add the diced granny smith apple to the mix and stir.

Heat a non stick ceramic pan on medium heat. Cook for approximately 3 minutes per side. I will warn you that they aren’t the easiest to flip. In the future I may try to add a little coconut oil or applesauce to make a more sticky pancake so it is easier to flip.


Cori says:  I wanted to come up with something that would incorporate one of the most popular fruits for runners- the banana so, I did what any non-chef-running blogger would do… throw them in my pancakes.

6. Sweet-and-Salty Pistachio-Crusted Salmon Recipe

By: Jenn at Fit Bottomed Girls


  • 1 pound salmon, divided into two fillets
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios (roasted and salted)
  • 1/4 cup almond meal or almond flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup sliced radishes
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, just the juice

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Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place salmon on a large baking sheet that’s covered with foil. Pat dry with paper towels. (I used these!) Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place coconut oil, agave, pistachios and almond meal in a food processor or blender and mix until coarsely ground.

Top salmon with the pistachio mix. Roast the salmon in the oven for eight to 10 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork. While it’s cooking, mix the greens and radishes together. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over greens and toss to combine. Divide evenly into two bowls.

Serve salmon over your dressed greens and enjoy! (Radishes are hidden — fell to the bottom of the bowl!)

Jenn says: I picked a few of my fave ingredients and came up with something that I think is pretty darn tasty. Sweet-and-Salty Pistachio-Crusted Salmon. I’ve been super into pistachios lately, so this recipe kind of just popped into my brain. And I’m lucky it turned out tasty. In fact, my husband kind of flipped over how good it is — the pistachio topping is pretty dang addictive! And the best part is that it is ridiculously easy and quick to make!

7. Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes

By: Ashley and Toni at Black Girls RUN!


  • 1 medium sweet potato (about 6 oz), peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

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Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Add in sweet potato, onion, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, stir, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until potato is soft.

Remove lid and add garlic, cooking for 30 seconds.Transfer potato mixture to a large bowl (slightly mashing potato with a fork) and add quinoa, breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, remaining salt and pepper and mix well.

Once combined, add in egg, then mix until moistened. Using your hands to bring it together, form four equally-sized patties. Heat the same skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Add cakes and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Voila!

 Ashley and Toni say: For those bored with pasta like me, quinoa is a tasty alternative. Quinoa is not only packed with carbs, it’s also very rich in protein. A 6-ounce serving of quinoa contains 132 calories, 23 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of protein, and 2 grams of unsaturated fat.

About Derek
I’m a runner, a writer, and a shoe lover who enjoys morning coffee, travel, singing in the car, and getting legitimately lost on trail runs. Three things I can’t live without: bubble tea, Fridays, and my Brooks PureFlow’s.

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