Thursday 18 January 2018

Navigating the minefield of pre-race nutrition

David Gillick's key principles to focus on in the run-up to the big day

David Gillick

Lemon and coconut chicken
Lemon and coconut chicken
David Gillick: nutrition can be a minefield.

As race day fast approaches and the reality of running around the streets of Dublin is starting to sink in, it's time to take stock of all the tips you have taken on board over the last 14 weeks and finally put them into practice.

Nutrition can be a minefield with so many tips put your way. At the end of the day it's what works for you as an individual that's important, so don't feel you have to do something just because your friend is doing it. The key principles I always focus on leading up to a race are:

Hydration - begin to get comfortable with sipping water over the course of every day. It's important to hydrate the body in the days leading up to a race as this will stop you downing loads of water pre-race, resulting in everything swashing around in your stomach.

Vegetables - try to include a little more vegetables into your diet. The more variety and colour the better. This will help boost your system with minerals and vitamins and increase performance.

Carbs - increase your carbohydrate gradually over a number of days. Don't try to force yourself to have a big meal the night before or the morning of the race. As with vegetables, any major increase that your body is not used to may have some ill effects.

Stick to what you know - avoid trying anything new on race day or the day before. Only use products like energy gels, bars or sports drinks if you have used them before and know that your body can handle them.

Recipe: Lemon and coconut chicken

Serves 1


100g sweet potato, peeled and cubed

1 tsp coconut oil

1 small onion, diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

120g chicken, diced

60g courgette, diced

40g asparagus, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

½ fresh green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

1 x 40g sachet creamed coconut zest

juice of ½ lemon

small handful of fresh coriander, chopped


Boil the cubed sweet potatoes until tender, then drain well and keep warm.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Sauté the diced onion for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the crushed garlic and cook for 1 minute more, then add the diced chicken and cook for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Stir in all the chopped vegetables and the green chilli.

Soften the unopened sachet of creamed coconut in a cup of boiling water until it is a thick liquid, then open the sachet and pour the contents into the pan along with the lemon zest and juice. Give everything a stir, and if the creamed coconut is still lumpy and thick, mix in a little water. Stir and simmer for 2 minutes, until the sauce is well combined.

Place the cooked sweet potatoes on a serving plate and cover with the lemon chicken and vegetables. Garnish with the chopped fresh coriander.

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