Cranberry muffins, cake, baking, featured

Bites and miles: recipes for runners

Towards the end of August, I shared my journey towards becoming a runner.

It started with a Race For Life event for Cancer Research UK around 15 years ago and gradually progressed from there. I now take part in a race at least once a year as a way of showing my support for SpecialEffect, a charity that helps people with physical disabilities to experience the joy of video games.

After completing the ASICS London 10K in July, I’ve already signed up for the next event. A post about this is planned for later this month so there’ll be further information coming soon. I’m now in the ninth week of the training plan and have managed to stick to it so far, although I definitely feel the fatigue at times and am aware I need to continue working on my stamina.

As explained previously, the mental endurance needed for longer distances can be more difficult than the actual action of running. On tough days, I’ll find myself constantly checking my watch and counting down the minutes until I can stop. Fortunately, some of the techniques in Mental Training for Runners by Jeff Galloway have been really useful in putting my head back in the right space.

For the physical side of things, I’ve been trying to pay more attention to my diet recently. Pete and I have been on a health-kick since January so we’ve improved a lot when it comes to what we eat along with portion sizes. I’m now taking the next step and focusing more on nutrition. There’s also the fact that I was previously ignoring the advice in all the books I’ve read, about eating something an hour before a run. This is something I’ve taken on board since a very helpful conversation with someone from Run Active.

I’d visited our local store to pick out a running vest and having no experience of these, I asked a member of the team for help. She was genuinely one of the loveliest assistants I’ve ever met. We ended up chatting not only about vests but a whole load of other valuable stuff and I came away with so many tips. One of these was to make sure I packed a packet of Fruit Pastilles for long-run Sundays, as they can provide a much-needed energy boost when you’re starting to feel weak.

I’ve been reading about nutrition for runners since that conversation and have purchased a few recipe books. The thing I’m concentrating on right now is healthy snacks to eat before, during and after running, so I can stay away from sports gels and the upset stomachs that can potentially come along with them. I’ve done a bit of tinkering with some of the recipes provided so they’re more suited to my tastes and have shared them below in case anybody else finds them useful.

I should point out though that I’m no expert – I’ve simply taken tried the instructions provided and then adjusted the ingredients and cooking times as I’ve seen fit. But I will say I’ve noticed a huge difference in eating one of the treats below before heading out and occasionally popping a Fruit Pastille if I feel like I need a boost during a run. The fatigue obviously still sets in over time, but there’s a feeling of strength for longer and that’s helping to build my confidence when attempting greater distances.

There are plenty of various opinions online about carbohydrate loading but I’m finding this is working for me personally. Carb-Saturdays are starting to become a thing before long-run Sundays so it’s likely I’ll have some pasta recipes to share soon too. Here comes the sensible guidelines though: you should always consult a doctor before drastically changing your diet or embarking on a training programme when you’re not used to regular exercise. Look after yourself and always stay safe, people.

Banana and pecan muffins

Banana and pecan muffins, cakes

These muffins are denser than your usual type because there are so many wet ingredients in the recipe. This threw me off at first and so I added more baking powder, as well as making a couple of exchanges. I’ve since grown to really like them and now make them regularly. The best thing is that they can be removed from their cases once cool, individually wrapped in foil and frozen. I take one out of the freezer before I go for a run and then it’s ready when I need to refuel.


  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 75g honey
  • 50g olive oil spread, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
  • 200g plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 50g pecans, chopped


  • Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180°C fan / gas mark 6
  • Line a 12-muffin tin with paper cases
  • Place the flour and the baking powder in a large mixing bowl and combine
  • Mash the bananas and honey in a separate bowl
  • Stir the olive oil spread, egg, vanilla, milk and yogurt into the banana mix
  • Pour the banana mix into the flour and stir until just combined
  • Fold in the pecans
  • Divide the mixture between the cases and bake for around 25 minutes
  • Leave on a cooling rack to cool completely

Cinnamon and cranberry flapjacks

cinnamon and cranberry flapjacks, baking

I must admit that these flapjacks can be a little hard-going to finish, but they’re really nice when you’re in the mood for something that’s full of nuts and seeds. The original recipe didn’t contain enough cinnamon for my taste and so I’ve added more, along with exchanging the maple syrup for honey. This recipe will make 16 flapjacks so there are plenty to keep you going. They’ll last around a week if you store them in an airtight container.


  • 200g ready-to-eat soft dates
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 75g honey
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g rolled oats
  • 100g walnuts, chopped
  • 100g mixed seeds
  • 50g dried cranberries


  • Preheat the oven to 190°C / 170°C fan / gas mark 5
  • Line a 23cm square baking tin with baking paper
  • Place the dates in a small saucepan with the water
  • Cook for about five minutes until soft
  • Add the honey, then mash until smooth
  • Mix the cinnamon, oats, nuts, seeds and cranberries in a large bowl
  • Add the date mix and stir until well combined
  • Press the mixture into the lined tin and smooth the surface until even
  • Bake for around 20 minutes, until the mixture feels firm
  • Leave to cool in the tin, then cut into 16 flapjacks

Cranberry muffins

Cranberry muffins, cake

These are made in a similar way to the banana and pecan muffins above, so you can again expect a denser version of the usual type. I’ve exchanged the brown sugar for honey once more and have switched the blueberries in the original recipe for cranberries as I much prefer them. Leave to cool completely before removing from the cases, wrapping individually in foil and freezing. Refueling sorted.


  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 75g honey
  • 75g olive oil spread, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
  • 200g plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 75g dried cranberries


  • Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180°C fan / gas mark 6
  • Line a 12-muffin tin with paper cases
  • Place the flour and baking powder in a large mixing bowl
  • Mix the honey, olive oil spread, eggs, vanilla, milk and yogurt in a bowl
  • Pour the mix into the flour and stir until just combined
  • Fold in the cranberries
  • Divide the mixture between the cases and bake for around 25 minutes
  • Leave on a cooling rack to cool completely

2 thoughts on “Bites and miles: recipes for runners

  1. I may have some recipes to share. Just wondering, do you prefer sweet or savoury? From the ones here I’m guessing sweet but worth asking nonetheless

    • Most pre- and post-run snacks tend to be sweet, as you’re looking for the energy boost provided by the sugar. Saying that though, it’s obvious that not all sugars are good so you need to be a bit careful!

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