Michel Roux Jr’s Better Breakfasts

We caught up with the chef Michel Roux Jr to find out how he’s preparing for his next marathon and what he eats for breakfast to ensure he has enough energy to keep on running…

The Training
My training is going okay but I do struggle to fit it in. Over the years I’ve devised a kind-of get-me-through programme, which includes a long run once a week (for a minimum of 90 minutes) at a good steady pace. I aim to do it every Sunday and if I can do that – I normally start in December – then I’m happy. During the week, because I’m so short of time, I can sometimes only manage a half-hour run two or three times a week – but I make sure each run is high-intensity: hills, sprints and things like that. I make it count – there’s no idle jogging!

The Elite Men
I’ve looked through the line-up and the 2014 field is unbelievable. We’ve got the great man himself, Haile Gebrselassie, who will be running to 30km at world-record pace as well as a host of world-class runners. Whether Mo Farah is in there or not at the finish line, it’s going to be unbelievable. Of course, Mo being there makes it even more exciting. I reckon wherever you are on the course on Sunday 13 April, the spectators will let you know if Mo has won because they will be jumping up and down!
I’m getting all emotional just thinking about it; it’s going to be an amazing day. The London Marathon is always amazing, it’s my favourite running venue and my all time favourite marathon and that’s why I keep doing it every year. But this year it’s going to be even more special because it will be my 20th marathon. It’s a big one, the big 2-0, something to really look forward to.

A balanced diet
Over the years I’ve found that when I start training more intensely, my body knows what I need to eat and what I want to eat. I tend to eat less meat and less fat, although I do love dairy fat and I would never give up my homemade bread and lashings of butter for breakfast. But I do think that it’s important to have a balanced diet. Tradition has it that the night before a marathon I have a piece of grilled fish and boiled potatoes, normally some greens or spinach and a glass of wine. I always have a glass of wine. It’ll be a light white wine but it is only one glass, and that’s important. More than one glass is not so good! I’ve always done it and it’s my 20th marathon and I’ve never broken the tradition!

On race morning
I usually have the same thing for breakfast before a marathon: brown toast, butter and marmalade – and I normally have quite a bit! – plus some black coffee.
I think one of the biggest mistakes that novice runners make is to change their diets and their habits. If you’re used to eating toast, butter and marmalade, stick to it. Don’t suddenly think, ‘Ooh, I think I’ll have a porridge today because I’m going to do a long run’ because your body isn’t used to it. Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.

On carb-loading
I find this easy because I generally eat a lot of carbs – bread, potatoes, rice and pasta – but I don’t overdo it on the carbs because that can leave you feeling lethargic and heavy. It’s common sense but pasta parties the night before a marathon might be fun but there’s not a lot of point to them because the carbs you have the night before aren’t going to make a huge difference. It’s like trying to get that last run in the week before, it’s not going to make much difference. It’s what you do in training in the months leading up to the race that will make the most difference on race day.

On race nutrition
I don’t eat when I’m running but I do take the Lucozade Sport that’s handed out at the London Marathon. I find gels too sweet and sticky but water and Lucozade Sport drinks work very well for me. But another tip is, ‘Don’t over-drink!’ You don’t need to drink at every drinks station. Unless it’s baking hot, you don’t need to drink absolutely everything that’s given to you - I made that mistake once and I nearly fainted.

Roux’s Better Breakfasts
We’re not suggesting you try one of the following breakfasts on race-day morning (unless you’ve tried it in training!), but here are a couple of Michel’s recipes for you to enjoy next time you’re look for a tasty start to the day.  

Toasted Rye Buns with Poached Eggs, Baby Spinach and Crispy Bacon

Serves 4


4 large organic eggs

8 slices of organic ventreche, pancetta or dry cure streaky bacon, very thinly sliced

4 rye buns (recipe below)

200g baby spinach

1 tsp white wine vinegar

Salt, pepper

Put a litre of water into a pan with the vinegar and bring to a rolling boil. Crack the eggs into small ramekins and gently slide each egg into the water. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and poach the eggs for three to four minutes, depending on how runny you like them. Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggs from the water and trim the edges.
Meanwhile, grill the bacon until crispy over a tray to collect the fat. Halve and toast the rye buns. Wash and dry the spinach. For each bun, place some spinach leaves on the bottom half and pour on some fat and juice from the bacon.

Soft Rye Buns

Makes 12-15


600g white bread flour

400g dark rye flour

40g yeast

30g milk powder

600ml lukewarm water

30g fine table salt

1 tbsp caster sugar

100g unsalted butter

8 slices of organic ventreche, pancetta or dry cure streaky bacon, very thinly sliced
Dissolve the milk powder and yeast in the lukewarm water, then add the sifted flours. Put the dough in the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook and gently knead for one minute. Add the salt and sugar. Increase the speed a little and knead for a further five minutes until smooth.

After three minutes, bring the dough from the top of the hook so that it mixes well with the rest, then pour in the lukewarm melted butter and knead until completely amalgamated. Remove the hook, cover the dough with a wet cloth and leave to rise in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes or until doubled in volume.

Once it has risen, knock the dough back, place it on a floured surface and shape into buns weighing 120g each. Put the buns on a baking tray, dust with a little flour, cover and leave to rise again for 20 minutes or until nearly doubled.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Depending on your oven, the rolls should cook in about 16 minutes. Cool them on a wire rack


Serves 6


500g smoked haddock, skinned and bones removed

360g basmati rice

1tbsp curry powder

80g butter

480ml white chicken stock or vegetable stock

A pinch of pure saffron stems

4 bay leaves

2 eggs

4 spring onions

2 mild green chillies

1 bunch of coriander

Salt, pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Melt 40g of the butter in an ovenproof pan, stir in the curry powder and cook gently for two to three minutes. Add the rice, continue to cook and stir until the rice is well coated in butter. Pour in the stock, add the bay leaves and saffron, and bring to a simmer. Bury the haddock in the rice, keeping the fish in large pieces. Put a lid on the pan, place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, but keep the lid on for another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, hard boil the eggs and chop them roughly. Thinly slice the spring onions and chillies, removing the chilli seeds if you don’t want the dish to be too spicy.

Take the lid off the pan and fluff the rice with a fork, flaking the fish at the same time. Add the rest of the butter and check the seasoning before folding in the eggs, chillies, spring onions and chopped coriander. Serve warm.