Stocking up on carbs the day before a big race can make all the difference between a glorious sprint finish and a horrible meltdown, with a mixture of slow and fast energy release being the key. That’s why the plan below features plenty of healthy carbs with every meal and snack to top up your endurance-boosting glycogen levels throughout the day, including the chicken and mushroom risotto recipe provided by Michelin-starred chef and duathlon champion Alan Murchison.

‘Endurance athletes rely heavily on carbs, which can lead to a boring, repetitive diet,’ says Murchison. ‘To mix things up, I’ve used a pasta called orzo in this risotto instead of rice. It’s shaped like a large grain of rice and has a soft texture that complements the mushrooms – plus it cooks in less than ten minutes, leaving you plenty of time to train.’


Porridge oats with milk and honey provides a mixture of slow and fast-release carbs and metabolism-boosting iron.


Baked sweet potato with tuna offers high levels of carbs and heart-healthy betacarotene.


Chicken and mushroom risotto (serves 4)


  • 4 chicken breasts, diced
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 250g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 350g orzo
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 250g chestnut or shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 2tbsp crème fraîche
  • 3tbsp fresh parmesan, grated
  • 1 small bunch of fresh tarragon, finely chopped

To make

Heat half the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the diced chicken breast. Sauté for four to five minutes, then set to one side.

In a separate pan, gently cook the onion and garlic in the butter for three to four minutes over a medium heat until soft, then add the mushrooms and cook for a further five minutes.

In another pan, simmer the orzo in 400ml of chicken stock over a medium heat for nine minutes until soft, then drain.

Mix the orzo and the chicken with the mushroom mixture and heat gently over a low heat for three to four minutes.

Stir in the crème fraîche, parmesan and tarragon, then remove from the heat and serve.


Oranges and blueberries are packed with energy-giving fructose as well as immunity-boosting antioxidants and vitamin A.

Alan Murchison is executive chef at L’Ortolan in Berkshire