At the start of every year there’s an inevitable deluge of diet books designed to help people lose weight. At Coach, we get to see a lot of them and they’re broadly reasonable but there are always a couple that promise “revolutionary” dietary developments that we tend to look askance at. The Runner’s Cookbook is emphatically not one of those.
As the name suggests, this is a book to help runners nail their nutrition. Pavement plodders of all stripes should learn something from the opening sections, which offer straightforward, nutritionally bulletproof advice from an authority in sports nutrition, Anita Bean.
The rookie runner will benefit from the clear overview of macronutrients while ultrarunners will appreciate the guides to hydration, supplements and fuelling for their distance. Really, though, this book should be an essential purchase for people who are beginning to train for a marathon and may not have a huge knowledge of nutrition even though they’ll be placing huge demands on their body in the coming months.
That said, it’d be a crying shame if this book got pigeonholed and didn’t reach a wider audience. The primer on nutrition (especially the formula for calculating the amount of calories needed to sensibly lose or gain weight) and recipes would upgrade almost anyone’s diet and contribute to them slimming down over time.
Perhaps most importantly, the recipes are accessible. They’re by and large not challenging to make, require only the most basic kitchen equipment and use easy-to-find ingredients. You won’t need to visit a health food shop for the vast majority of the recipes.
The 100 recipes are split into breakfasts (with plenty of porridge ideas), filling salads, soups, mains with more turkey and fish dishes than the usual, vegetarian mains (seriously carnivores, your diet could probably benefit from adding some meat-free meals to your repertoire), desserts and snacks.
We like that, in contrast to plenty of other cookbooks, The Runner’s Cookbook isn’t tied to a particular cuisine. You could cook from it all week and eat a dish associated with a different country every night.
So far we’ve made the tomato and red lentil soup, which took hardly any prep time and was richly flavoured and satisfying, and quesadillas with beans and red peppers, which went down a storm: essentially a cheese, avocado and bean melt between tortillas, it also made for an ideal take-to-work lunch. These two alone have convinced us to keep coming back to this cookbook – next up, turkey spaghetti bolognese.
The Runner’s Cookbook by Anita Bean (RRP £14.99, Bloomsbury) is out now. Buy on amazon.co.uk