Recipe Blog 2: Pre-race pasta

Preparing the right meal the night before a race is a big task, but this should help you find your way.


Oliver Hinson

The finished product.

Superstition is a huge part of an athlete’s life. The belief that a simple act or object makes us play better, while faulty, is still effective. The placebo serves as a confidence booster, and it has been shown to increase performance in a number of cases. Whether it be a certain garment, activity, or other ritual, these superstitions are incredibly important, and one of the most common of these is food. Athletes place heavy emphasis on the meals they eat, and the nutritional needs they need to satisfy are different for every sport. As a distance runner, my lucky meal has never wavered. Spaghetti and green beans have been served the night before every one of my races since 7th grade, and at this point, change is unimaginable. Every runner needs carbohydrates before a big race, and if you haven’t found your lucky charm yet, I’d suggest starting here.

Green beans ingredients (serves two):

These take longer than you may think, so make sure to get them in the oven early. (Oliver Hinson)

1 ½ pounds fresh green beans, ends cut off

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cajun seasoning

1 tsp sea salt

Green beans directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until lightly coated. Spread out over a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. 
  2. Cook green beans in oven for 20-25 minutes or until crisp. Serve with pasta and enjoy!




Spaghetti and sauce ingredients (serves two):

It takes a lot to make something good out of a simple jar of sauce. (Oliver Hinson)

2 servings of spaghetti noodles (only you get to decide how much you really want)

1 24-oz jar spaghetti sauce (any brand is fine);  ¼ lb ground italian sausage

Half an onion, dicedl   1 tbsp olive oil

⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese; ⅛ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1 tsp minced garlic;  1 tsp sugar

½ tsp garlic powder; ½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp sea salt; ½ tsp oregano; ½ tsp dried basil leaves



Spaghetti and sauce directions:

Oliver Hinson
  1. Boil x cups of water in a large sauce pot over high heat. Once boiling, add spaghetti noodles, half of your olive oil, and half of your salt to the water. It may seem unnecessary to season your water like this, but it will help to bring a rich flavor to your pasta. Keep pot on high heat for about 15 minutes, or until your pasta reaches an al dente level of firmness.
  2. At the same time (right after you start to boil your water), in a large nonstick pan, pour in your remaining olive oil, and add your sausage and onions. Cook over medium heat until both are lightly browned. If you don’t do this before adding the sauce, you run the risk of undercooking both ingredients, leaving a bad taste in your mouth (or a disease in your stomach!)
  3. Once the sausage and onions are sufficiently cooked, turn to low heat and add the sauce. Keep simmering for about 15 minutes. While it is cooking, gradually add your ingredients in this order: spices, sugar, fresh basil, parmesan cheese, minced garlic. Garlic burns very easily, something a lot of chefs learn the hard way. Add it about 2 minutes before cooking is finished.
  4. Take your pan off the heat and let it rest for about 5 minutes. The sauce is nearly boiling at this point, so do not serve immediately unless you want to burn the roof of your mouth. Once done resting, serve with spaghetti and green beans (it should go without mentioning that you drain your pasta into a colander before serving). Enjoy!


     Finding that lucky superstition is a hard thing to do. A lot of times, it just comes naturally, and you know when you’ve got something good. If you find yourself lost, though, and you’ve got a big race tomorrow, take this carbohydrate-filled recipe and go with it. Who knows, maybe it will work out for you too.