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Amateur Racing: Smashed Potatoes with Tapenade

By Jiri Kaloc

What’s the ideal breakfast before a big race? Which foods will help and which will be a waste of space in your stomach? The last article in this series will be dedicated to the most important race day meal, the breakfast. If you do it right, you’ll set yourself up for your best performance. Give the recipe at the end a try and see how it works for you.

Breakfast of champions

The main macronutrient you’re looking for in your pre-race meal is carbohydrates. You should focus on slow carbs that keep you energized for a long time. Good options are potatoes, oatmeal, or sourdough whole grain bread. You don’t need too much protein because it digests slowly and can feel heavy. Consider an egg or two only if you have a really long race ahead. Fats can be a good source of energy too, especially because they release really slowly. But you should choose the carbs to fat ratio depending on your usual preferred source of energy.

What you don’t want to eat before a big race are, maybe quite surprisingly, foods that would normally be considered healthy. For example, a big salad with broccoli, beans, meat, and quinoa would be a great recovery meal on a rest day. But it would do the opposite of what you want before a race. It carries a lot of fibre and the protein from meat takes way too long to digest. So keep it simple, use your prerace meal as an opportunity to enjoy some tasty carbs.

Recipe: Smashed Potatoes with Tapenade

The following recipe serves four people and each smashed potato carries 145 kcal, 28 g of carbs, 5 g of protein, and 3 g of fat. It’s ideal as a pre-race breakfast and it tastes amazing. Give it a try and you might end up eating all four potatoes!


4 white potatoes
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
4 tsp black olive tapenade
Salt to taste


1. Put potatoes in a large saucepan with vinegar, bay leaf, peppercorns, and water to cover.
2. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender enough to be pierced with a skewer.
3. Drain potatoes in a colander but do not allow them to cool, or they will break instead of smash.
4. Place a warm potato in a dishcloth on a hard surface. Slowly and gently crush the potato using the palm of your hand. Transfer to a tray. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.
5. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
6. When hot, place potatoes in the skillet and cook without moving for about 5 minutes.
7. Using a wide spatula, transfer potatoes to a plate crisp side down. Spread uncooked side with 1 tablespoon of tapenade, and press it down lightly into the potato.
8. Slide the spatula under the potato and with one quick move, flip the potato over onto the skillet (tapenade side down). Spread 1 teaspoon of tapenade over the potato.
9. Repeat with the remaining potatoes and brown them for about 5 to 7 minutes.
10. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and chopped fresh parsley to taste and serve immediately!

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