National Vegetarian Week: Seasonal veg for runners

Rhubarb

Although the humble rhubarb is technically a vegetable, this herbacious perennial is routinely promoted to fruit status and served as a dessert.

The perfect runner’s pudding, rhubarb is rich in calcium, which is essential for healthy bones, Lutein which looks after your skin after routinely exposing it to the elements, and vitamin K, which helps form blood clots should you suffer an injury.

What better excuse do you need to order extra dessert?

Asparagus

A delicacy of the plant world, the appearance of asparagus in the fruit and veg shop heralds the onset of spring. Although its shorter growing season mean it doesn’t come cheap, asparagus is packed with high levels of vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and calcium, so you certainly get your money’s worth.

Runners need lots of iron, as it transports oxygen to the muscles via the blood. Eating foods high in vitamin C, like asparagus, is said to increase iron absorption, so get your hands on some asparagus spears and start running like a pro.

Spinach

In season from March until June, spinach is famed for its ability to restore energy, increase vitality and improve the quality of the blood.

Rich in iron, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and folic acid, Popeye sang its praises with good reason and thankfully you can now buy it all year round.

Also a great source of magnesium, iron and vitamin B2, spinach is perfect runner’s fuel. If Popeye had applied his pectoral power to marathon training, he’d probably have scored a few PBs.

Cauliflower

In season from December to April, cauliflower is the hidden gem of the vegetable world. A member of the brassica family, its tightly packed flower heads, thick central stem and green leaves are packed with antioxidant benefits and it provides an excellent source of vitamin C.

Cauliflower also contains high amounts of vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help decrease inflammation for overtired legs.

Lettuce

Available all year round in a variety of forms, lettuce is the obvious go to veg for a healthy summer side salad.

But don’t dismiss the humble leaf as burger relish. Rich in vitamins and packed with nutrients, it’s a little known fact that lettuce contains a sleep-inducing substance called 'lectucarium', which is great for insomniacs. Snack on lettuce the night before a race and wake up refreshed and ready to run.

Strawberries

Formerly a seasonal fruit, strawberries are now readily available all year round, but they’re at their best in June.

The perfect addition to a runner’s diet, strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K as well as providing a good dose of fibre, folic acid, manganese and potassium.

They also contain powerful antioxidants and are thought to protect against inflammation, cancer and heart disease.

Broad beans

A member of the legume family, broad beans grow in most soils and climates and provide a great source of protein and carbohydrates, as well as vitamins A, B1 and B2.

Low in calories, they are packed with nutrients essential for proper body function and they also contain copper, which plays a vital role in keeping your blood vessels, immune system and bones healthy, so you'll be in perfect shape for a run.

Peas

Low in fat but high in protein, fibre and micronutrients, peas may be small but they’re billed as the best veg for a strong immune system and they give you bundles of energy to boot.

A frozen bag of peas also works wonders for an unexpected running injury.

Courgette

At their best from June to September, during the summer months courgettes grow with wild abandon and allotment owners will be inundated with the versatile green veg.

Rich in Vitamin C and lutein, courgettes are said to aid vision disorders and sharpen eyesight, so feast on this member of the squash family to maintain keen eyesight during your long runs.

Carrots

One of the most versatile root vegetables in town, the mighty carrot is great in sweet and savoury dishes and can be served cooked or raw, so they're perfect for runners as a handy energy snack or in a heartwarming recovery stew.

An excellent source of pro-vitamin A, vitamins C, D, E, K, B1 and B6, carrot is also great for healing, so snack on this tasty sugar-rich vegetable if you’re injured and you'll soon bounce back to health