6 Mar – 12 Mar 2017: And the marathon arrives…

The final week of training and then Sunday brings the 2017 Barcelona Marathon!

This is a taper week so there’s nothing too strenuous going on here, aside from a couple of Freeletics Hell Days. So long as they are finished a few days before the marathon, it should be fine.

I can’t believe it’s almost here… It seems like an age ago when I started my training. For the most part, it’s gone well. I’ve stuck the schedule and have been relativity injury-free. 

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Healthy homemade fish and chips

wp-1488389608438.jpgFriday night fish and chips is a tradition for many – I have a colleague who looks forward to his weekly cod and chips without fail – but this English delicacy is hardly the healthiest of dishes.

The National Federation of Fish Friers (which champions the fish & chip industry) says a 170g portion of fish with 280g of chips and 115g of mushy peas clocks in a 1,086 calories with almost 53g of fat. And that sounds like a small portion of fish & chips to me…

For a healthier alternative, I’ve started making my own fish & chips. The battered fish is replaced with a herb-crusted one, roasted curry-flavoured parsnips instead of chips and curry sauce and there’s minted gherkin-pea crushed to top it all off.

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27 Feb to 5 Mar 2017 – That marathon is getting close

Last week was another where my carefully worked out training plan was derailed by unforeseen circumstances. Let’s hope this one ends up being a little better.

It feels like there’s barely any running to do this week – the longest run is only 13km. The Freeletics Coach made up for it though, by giving me 3 sets of the brutal Kentauros workout.

There’s an additional Freeletics problem. I think next week will be one with some Hell Days – not ideal just before a marathon.

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Veggie sausage, squash and kale casserole

The winter is drawing to a close (I hope) but there’s still to run through a few of those hearty dishes that only work when it’s freezing outside and there’s nothing better than being indoors with a steaming plate of stew.

The key to this dish is finding the right vegetarian sausages – a quest which I’m still very much on. Vegetarian sausages are about as hit and miss as their meat equivalents, so don’t stop try if you aren’t happy with the first ones you find in the shops. In a future post, I might taste test a selection of the more readily available choices out there.

Another element of this casserole, albeit optional, is Henderson’s Relish. It’s an amazing condiment that enhances savoury flavours and brings another level of depth to dishes like this; try it if you can. Continue reading

Luxury poached duck eggs with crumpets

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This makes a luxurious breakfast, brunch or supper (to be honest, I’d also make it for lunch or tea – doubling the portions if it’s the main meal – so it’s a bit of an all-rounder then). But, as you’ll see in the nutrition section, that luxury means this is definitely one for the ‘treat’ part of your recipe book.

Rich poached duck eggs, sitting on spinach, mushrooms and crumpets. Hollandaise sauce poured over with some asparagus ‘soldiers’ waiting on the side for dipping purposes. What’s not to like?

It’s a relatively simple dish to pull together (be warned: there’s a lot of multi-tasking to do) but the use of duck eggs and asparagus gives it a touch of sophistication that the beloved boiled egg and toast soldiers just doesn’t have.

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20 Feb to 26 Feb 2017 – Easing into the taper… and hammer time!

The taper has started! All those long runs will be getting not-as-long and my Saturdays won’t be dominated by brutal interval workouts… but it does mean that the actual marathon is getting very close.

The runs get a lot shorter from here. My longest this week is ‘only’ 21km, which by this point is something I feel I can run almost without thinking. Sure I’ll be eating those words around 16km though!

For some reason I set the Freeletics Coach to four sessions when I generated the new week. Shouldn’t really be doing that many on the taper, which is why I dealt with one at the end of the previous week. Three sessions to get through now.

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Why I love… black beans

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You know how you sometimes meet someone and don’t hit it off straight away? You don’t think twice about them afterwards and just get on with your life, maybe even ignore them. Then you bump into them again – and everything’s different and somehow you fall in love. That’s me and black beans.

Several years ago I made a black bean and pepper stew that took all night and many pans. A lot of effort and I was so disappointed with what I ended up eating. From then on, I passed over other recipes using black beans and happily lived my life without them.

Then a few years ago I couldn’t find any kidney or pinto beans when buying ingredients for a burrito so I reluctantly bought black beans. I cooked them up with some spice, slapped them in a tortilla with the usual fillings and have been obsessed ever since. Continue reading