I am marathon training again. It took a while to convince myself. Firstly, I didn’t get into the London Marathon next year. Although the chances were pretty slim anyway, I sulked.  Secondly, I ran my first marathon last year in just under 4 hours. I couldn’t quite set myself a new goal that would be appealing: under 3:30 hours would be a tad too ambitious, I guess 🙂 Thirdly, the marathon course of last year’s Dubai Marathon was flat and fast, but boring as hell. Imagine running 21k straight, make a U-turn and run 21k straight back, with not really much to see left and right, apart from about a thousand beauty clinics that are lined up on this road. Fourthly, I am more wrapped up with work than last year, and it will be even more difficult to squeeze in the time to do all this running.

Now what made me change my mind? They changed the marathon route. Start and finish will be at the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building of the world. It’s got some big city atmosphere down there, and I think it will be nice spot to start and finish a marathon.

So I got last year’s 12-week marathon training plan out again, as it worked really well for me. I plan to give you weekly updates of how it is going physically, emotionally, and perhaps discuss food and nutrition-related issues as they come along.

I started training last week. I allowed a warm-up week to increase my mileage and get my body used to a whole lot more exercise than it was used to in the last month or so. Today is my first official day of my marathon training. I ran 10k in the morning.
What can I say after seven days of warm-up and one day of official training? I can feel my energy consumption is going up. A lot. I am hungry. Constantly. In the past few weeks I have been living almost grain-free. I don’t think this is sustainable while preparing for a marathon. While it won’t be a problem to stay gluten-free, I think I will need my bowls of brown rice, quinoa or buckwheat to get some carbs in.

Another way will be legumes. I made a big pot of this Red Lentil Dal last week. It served perfectly for a post-run meal, delivering all the carbs and proteins, while being easy on the stomach. It’s warming and comforting, the perfect autumn meal.
Definitely a keeper that will accompany through the winter months and along my training.

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 tablespoon nut oil
1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup red lentils
2 tomatoes, chopped
2,5-3 cups water
Serve with:
chopped raw cashews
natural yogurt
desiccated or shredded coconut
Serves 3-4

In a dry pan, roast the cumin seeds for a few minutes, until fragrant. Take off the heat and grind the seeds. Set aside.

In a medium sized pan, heat the oil over high heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop. Turn down the heat to medium, then add chopped onion and fry until softened, 2-3 minutes. Now add all the spices, garlic and ginger. Cook until fragrant, another minute or so.

Add red lentils and toss until well coated. Stir in chopped tomatoes. Add the water. Bring the lentil to a simmer, then cook uncovered on medium low heat until lentil are soft, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Serve warm with a dollop of yogurt and sprinkles of raisins, chopped cashews and shredded coconut.


  1. Hi Sandy, thanks for the wishes. For now, I just hope I get through with the amount of training. But in the end, it’s supposed to make me run faster than last time. That’s what I expect. Otherwise I’d be disappointed.
    We should run together one day, and have foodie picnic afterwards, whatcha think?

  2. YAY FOR BRINGING GRAINS BACK IN!!:) good luck with the marathon, I’m so jealous coz I wanna run too but can’t this time 🙁 Ah well, still running and semi-training for fun anyway, so look forward to seeing your running foods.

    G’luck training!

  3. Good for you Anja. Not sure whether I’m going to do 10km but will be cheering you on whatever. These simple red lentils are brought alive with the tomato and spices.

  4. I made this last night and it was great! I can see it being made regularly in our household. Thanks for the recipe.

  5. I LOVE the styling of this photo- inspiring! Of course committing to running a marathon is also incredibly inspiring. As is the recipe… we’ll be trying it soon!

  6. I made this tonight. It was super simple. The spice combo is spot on.

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