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Training for a marathon, or feeling inspired to sign up? Chef and food writer Dan Doherty’s nourishing recipes are a delicious way to fuel your run

“Small adjustments to your diet when training mean your body gets the nutrients it needs to get stronger – it’s not about making radical changes.”


“I love a challenge, and the bonus of raising cash for charity means marathons are a win-win for me. Four months of training is a big commitment, though. As the London Marathon is in April (Sunday 22 this year), you’re often running through miserable weather – easier said than done! But the sense of achievement when you finish is unforgettable. It gets addictive.

“When it comes to training, I don’t believe in making sudden, extreme changes to my diet. I try to eat colourful food: balanced carbs and protein, with plenty of veggies. After a run, I choose dishes that aid recovery, such as protein, fresh fruit and vegetables. I try to fuel up on carbs the evening before a long run – but this is all best-case scenario; I’m no saint.

“Life’s too short for limitations: if you’ve been out running in the pouring rain, there’s no harm in the odd chocolate bar. M&S have some brilliant shortcuts if I’m pushed for time – the high-protein lentil or pea noodles are a great way of getting

what my body needs, without having to cook for hours.

“The more you run, the more you need to eat. I’m not one for knocking back kale juices or quinoa smoothies: the stress that training for a marathon puts your body under means you need to help it recover with hearty, nutritious dishes. Nutty, seed-packed granola with yoghurt and seasonal stewed rhubarb is a brilliant protein-rich breakfast that’s ideal for before a workout. I always keep blueberries on hand for snacking, too.

“My spicy baked eggs with chickpeas and herbs, meanwhile, is perfect post-run fuel: colourful and full of nutrients, it’s what your body needs to recover. Of course, it’s fine to eat this dish without having exercised – personally, it’s my dream lazy weekend breakfast!

“During chilly training runs, when I need something comforting, I turn to my chicken, leek and pearl barley stew with garlic and parsley pesto. It’s a cuddle in a bowl.”



Nut and seed granola
with rhubarb compote

“This recipe could easily be made into a smoothie – just whizz it up and you’re good to go.”

Serves 4

500g oats
100g hazelnuts
100g pistachios
100g pecans
50g macadamia nuts
25g sesame seeds
25g sunflower seeds
25g pumpkin seeds
25g linseed
125g golden syrup
100g honey
200g raisins
200g dried apricots, chopped
100g dates, chopped
Full fat natural yoghurt, to serve

For the rhubarb compote
800g rhubarb, chopped into 2cm chunks
100g sugar
2 star anise
1 tsp ginger, grated

To make the granola, preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Stir together all the ingredients except the dried fruit, and divide between two baking trays. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, mixing every 10 minutes, until toasted and golden. Remove from the oven, mix in the dried fruit and allow to cool.

For the compote, place all the ingredients in a pan, add a splash of water and pop a piece of parchment paper on top. Simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes, until reduced and thickened. Allow to cool. To serve, spoon equal parts granola, compote and yoghurt into four bowls, and wolf it down.


Spicy baked eggs with tomatoes,
peppers, chickpeas and fresh herbs

“Serve this protein-rich dish with plenty of good sourdough, to mop up the juices.”

Serves 4

Olive oil, for cooking
½ onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted in a dry pan
1 tsp smoked paprika
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
400g tin chopped tomatoes
400g tin chickpeas
200ml vegetable stock
A small handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
A small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
A small handful of mint, finely chopped
4 eggs
Sourdough, to serve

Heat a splash of oil in a medium pan. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf and chilli and sauté for three minutes, until coloured a little. Season. Add the

cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper and cook for a further three minutes. Add the pepper and cook for five minutes, until softened. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas and stock, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the coriander, parsley and mint, reserving a little to garnish. Make four little wells in the pan and crack in the eggs.

Simmer on a very low heat for 10 minutes, until the eggs are set but still soft. For the last minute, place a lid on the pan to set the eggs. Scatter over the remaining herbs. Serve with toasted sourdough.


Chicken, leek and pearl barley
stew with parsley and garlic pesto

“I love this dish. It’s easy to make, packs in protein and, most importantly, is full of flavour.”

Serves 4

Olive oil, for cooking
4 chicken legs
3 leeks, cut into 1cm rounds
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
250g cooked pearl barley
300ml chicken stock
2 tbsp crème fraîche

For the parsley and garlic pesto
1 large bunch parsley
2 cloves of garlic
30g parmesan, finely grated
Olive oil, to bind
5 walnuts

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Heat a splash of oil over a medium heat in an ovenproof casserole dish. Season the chicken legs, then add to the pan and heat until golden all over. Remove from the dish and set aside. In the same dish, add the leeks, bay leaf, thyme and

garlic and sweat, with the lid on, for five minutes, until softened. Remove the lid, add the cooked pearl barley and stock, and bring to the boil. Return the chicken to the dish, pop the lid back on and put in the oven for 35 minutes.

In the meantime, make the pesto. Bring a pan of seasoned water to the boil. Add the garlic, then 20 seconds later add the parsley. After 10 seconds, refresh everything in iced water. Drain. Blitz the parsley, garlic, parmesan and walnuts in a blender, adding the olive oil gradually, until you have a pesto consistency. Season and set aside.

When the chicken is ready, remove from the oven and stir in the crème fraîche. Spoon into four bowls with a spoonful of pesto on the top of each.

Recipes and photographs: Dan Doherty / Food editor: Emma Sleight / Portrait photographer: Anders Schønnemann

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