The best meals for London marathoners

These local eateries will help you fuel (and recover) like a champ.

It’s one of the most popular destination marathons in the world — hence, each April, runners from every corner of the globe descend upon London to lap up 26.2 miles of the city’s historic streets and landmarks. This year's running, organizers have announced, will also be a show of solidarity for those affected by the tragedies at Monday's Boston Marathon. A moment of silence will precede each wave start, and runners will receive black ribbons with their bibs, which they'll be encouraged to wear as a sign of support.

Whether you’re a local or making your Virgin London Marathon debut, proper nutrition is essential. These five meals at the city’s most runner-friendly eateries will eliminate the guesswork.

the night before <br> (12 hours to go)

Head to: Osteria Basilico

Order: Mezze Maniche con Melanzane, Pomodoro & Mozzarella

We recommend two things for the night before your big run: a relaxing movie and a simple, low-GI pasta dish. This West London stalwart has plenty of options, including a pasta topped with tomatoes, mozzarella and aubergines (also known as eggplant). The noodles will keep your muscles’ glycogen levels up, stockpiling a steady source of energy to unleash when you hit the road in the morning. And yes, a glass of red wine is allowed, since it’ll digestion and help you sleep better. But just the one—seriously.
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race-day morning <br> (two hours to go)

Head to: Rivington Greenwich

Order: Macroom Porridge with banana

It feels like Moby Dick is tap dancing inside your stomach but breakfast is still crucial. Your best bet is the Macroom porridge (with water—milk will be too heavy) at this chic café, which is a short stroll from the start line and opens early on race day. A tablespoon of nut butter gives it a protein boost; adding a potassium-rich banana will help stave off muscle cramping, while a dollop of honey is loaded with antioxidants and has antibacterial qualities to help keep any post-race sickness at bay.
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30 minutes to <br> 2 hours post-race

Head to: The Juicery at Equinox London

Order: Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

Open up that finisher’s bag, stat, and dig into its contents, be it a bag of salted chips or pretzels, an apple, a bottle of coconut water. Studies show you have a window of 30 to 45 minutes in which your muscles are most receptive to recovery. “You’ll have lost glycogen and salt during the race so a salty bag of snacks will make you feel better," says Percy. Two hours after crossing the line, grab a protein-rich smoothie. “Hydration is key, plus a smoothie is a quick way of absorbing all the nutrients you have lost,” says nutritionist Katrine van Wyk, who helped create this super-fueling, recovery-in-a-glass combo.
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six hours post-race

Head to: Busaba Eathai

Order: Thai green curry and jasmine rice; lemongrass or ginger tea

Believe it or not, your body is still in recovery mode. That means it needs fast-acting carbs for energy (sticky rice is the Usain Bolt of the carbohydrate world) and protein for repair (chicken or prawns will do the job). The spices and ginger are great anti-inflammatories, which also speed muscle recovery.
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the next day

Head to: Hawksmoor (Spitalfields)

Order: Fillet Steak, triple cooked chips, spinach with lemon & garlic

There are precious few times in life when you can indulge, guilt-free, at the steakhouse—this would be one of those times. The carb-laden sides will refill your muscles’ depleted glycogen levels, and that giant steak will be a great source of protein and iron. (Research shows that the average marathon runner loses around 3 milligrams of iron per day for up to five days post race). You burn over 3,000 calories during a marathon, so trust us when we say, you deserve this.
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