This post is a collaboration with Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. on behalf of the Beef Checkoff. I received compensation –  all opinions are my own.

What to Eat before a Marathon: Tips to Help your Body Stay Strong and Recover from a Race

As a chef with a background in fitness, I often get asked how I prepare my body for a big workout, and how I recover afterwards. In addition to stretching and sleep, one of the best things you can do to fuel your body or help it recover after a big race or training session is focus on good nutrition! After all, in addition to being something that brings us together, food is the fuel that the body uses to power through a workout, as well as replenish afterwards. Food provides the fuel and nutrients that keeps us strong during our current workout and gives us the energy to smash out the next one.

What type of fuel does your body need for marathon prep and recovery?

The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re training for or recovering from a marathon (or another major athletic event) is a ratio of carbs to protein to healthy fat. The main thing your muscles are going to be looking for after a marathon are carbs to help refuel and protein to help promote recovery. You’ve used up all the glycogen stores (sugars that fuel your muscles), so you need to replenish these! Things like bread, granola, and fresh or dried fruit give your body tons of energy in the form of glucose (and other natural simple sugars), but you also want to make sure you are balancing them out with protein (which restores your muscles), like lean beef, and fiber (which helps give you lasting energy), as well as some healthy fats to keep you full. In training for this type of endurance event, you need to make good nutrition a priority to ensure proper fuel during training and on race day and adequate recovery afterward.

This might seem like a bit to remember, but your body will tell you what it is craving! To simplify things even more, I’m going to share my favorite pre-workout meal. Eat this the night before a big race, as a tasty way to recover following your big event or a few hours before your workout for the best results. You want to give your body a bit of time to digest!

My favorite pre/post-workout meal:

Now that we know what nutrients are vital to marathon training and recovery, let’s chat about the best way to incorporate them into that pre-workout dish.

I love these zucchini and beef roll-ups with marinara sauce, which have everything you need to fuel you through your workout: protein to fuel and restore muscles (from our sirloin steak), complex carbs to give you plenty of energy (from sweet potato), and healthy fat (from cottage cheese-which is also a great protein source) to keep you full and satisfied throughout your workout and your day!

The body craves protein when it is under the strain of a workout. The high intensity effort involved with running 26.2 miles puts an incredible amount of stress on your muscle, making the need to focus on good nutrition absolutely crucial to avoiding muscle loss during training. In order to repair the normal muscle damage that occurs during endurance training, your muscles need high-quality, readily-available protein! What you’re after is those building blocks (essential amino acids), which make up the muscle and are used to restore muscle after you have broken it down with a workout. The Sirloin Steak in this recipe provides all the essential amino acids your body needs to keep pushing through!

This recipe isn’t just great for a pre-workout meal — it also makes a super satisfying lunch or dinner that can be made in less than half an hour, and is great for the whole family. I always love a super appealing presentation, and this one is no exception with beef and zucchini rollups, and plenty of marinara sauce to dip and drizzle!! Hope you enjoy it, and that it fuels you through your next big race! To find more recipes to help you fuel up for your race make sure to visit

Recipe: Zucchini + Beef Rollups with Easy Marina Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Cost: $15-20
Skill: Medium

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

4 x 4 oz Sirloin Steaks
Pinch of Salt & Pepper
1 ½ Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Zucchinis
½ Cup 1% Cottage Cheese

Easy Marinara Sauce

15oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
Pinch of Salt


2 Large Sweet Potato, Peeled and Grated
1/2 Cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano


  1. Season steaks with salt on both sides and add them to a skillet on medium heat. Cook for 8 minutes turning every 15 seconds. Set aside to rest for 15 minutes.
  2. Slice zucchini into 12 thin strips.
  3. Add 1 1/2 tbsp. of olive oil, sauté the slices of one zucchini for 1 minute on each side or until slightly golden. Transfer to a plate, season with salt and repeat with remaining zucchini.
  4. Slice steaks into 12 thin strips. Place strips lengthwise on top of zucchini slices. Add 2 teaspoon of cottage cheese and roll up zucchini and beef. Place roll in baking dish. Repeat with remaining slices.
  5. To make the marinara sauce combine all ingredients in a blender and pour over the casserole dish.
  6. Combine sweet potato and cheese and sprinkle over the top of the marinara. Place underneath broiler for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown.

other recipes you might like…