Having been heavily involved in sports most of my life — baseball, swimming and martial arts — I jumped into competing in triathlons following my 30th birthday after realizing it was a great way for me to stay in shape.

I have completed over a half dozen triathlons, with more in the pipeline, and I know firsthand how important it is for competitors to provide their bodies with the best fuel possible, especially the night before the big race.

Often, athletes will go out the night before to get their pre-race meal at a local restaurant, but you’ll have much more control over exactly what is being put into your body if you prepare your own food at home. In addition to being more conscious about the nutritional content of the food you’re consuming, preparing your own meals the night before can also be a fun and relaxing experience to enjoy with your fellow competitors.

The recipes I have crafted are budget-friendly, the ingredients are easy to find in any local grocery store and are very clean in regards to nutritional value. Simple and easy is the way to go before putting in some serious mileage on the pavement. Also, don’t forget to wash these delicious dishes down with plenty of water.

Marathon Meal: Grilled Chicken With Olive Pesto Salsa Genovese

Serves four

4 pieces of 8 oz grilled chicken breasts served with salsa Genovese (recipe below)

Salsa Genovese:
1 gallon of green olives, pitted, rinsed and pulsed in a food processor

2 bunches of mint, stemmed1 bunch of rosemary, stemmed

1 bunch of basil, stemmed

5 cloves of garlic, peeled3 lemons, juiced

1 cup of capers, drained and rinsed1 cup of pine nuts

Olive oil to cover

Instructions: Place all the ingredients except the olives in a blender and puree till smooth, then fold together with the olives. Season to taste with salt and pepper, serve over chicken breasts grilled or baked in the oven.

More From AskMen.com:

Ab Foods

How To Prepare For A Marathon - Part I

How To Prepare For A Marathon - Part II

Top Foods for Men

Nutrition Solutions For Training Problems

Marathon Salad: Whole grain and Wheat Berry Salad

Serves four

1/2 cup wheat berries

1/2 cup barley

1/2 cup wild rice

1/2 cup quinoa

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup white raisins1/4 cup dried apricot

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped

Salt and black pepper to taste

Wheat berry and whole grain salad instructions: Cook all grains separately with water or chicken stock. Drain and cool to room temperature. Toss with remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Serve with grilled chicken, turkey breast or lean fish such as snapper or halibut.

These simple, nutritious and flavorful dishes are easy enough for any athlete to prepare before a big event. The point of preparing these dishes is to have the energy to complete the race, not spend the night before racing around.

Remember: no fuel, no engine!