Eat it

Pre-Race Pizza Party

What you eat the night before a race is super important. This is a lesson I learned the hard way when I ran the Beaverton Half Marathon in 2019. Hello, I’m celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey (I’m not).

I’d only been running ‘seriously’ for a couple of years when I signed up for Beaverton, and I assumed ‘carb loading’ would be the best thing to do. The night before the race, I put on a nice shirt and took myself to one of Portland’s preeminent Italian restaurants: Café Tristezza Marrone. There I scarfed down three serves of their Spicy Creamy Four-Alarm Lobster Fettuccini (which was sub-fucking-par and the chef should hang up his spatula and get a job delivering fucking pamphlets because I’m celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey), and on my home, I stopped in at a late-night diner and had two chocolate milkshakes and a large bowl of steamed broccoli (absolutely abominable; that diner should be bulldozed and the proprietor dragged behind a fucking horse). ‘That ought to do it,’ I said, as I climbed into bed with 500gms of licorice and a bottle of Dr. Ass-Blaster’s Max-Lax™. ‘I’ll probably win this thing now!’

I won’t go into the details of what happened the next day, but suffice it to say I, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey (not really), am not allowed in the state of Oregon anymore. Since then, though, I figured out what to eat before a race, and I want to share it with you now so you don’t get hosed across the state line by the Portland Fire Department, too.

The thing to eat before a race is pizza.

The carbohydrates in pizza (and pasta and rice, etc.) load your muscles and liver with glycogen, which is your energy fuel. If you go light on carbohydrates, you’ll quickly become fatigued and want to have a lie-down, so if you’re training for a race, carbs need to be a part of your diet—keeping your glycogen stores stocked is the only way to keep moving. With that in mind, here is my world-famous, patented, not actually Gordon Ramsey’s Pre-Race Pizza Pie.

What You'll Need

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pizza sauce (just the supermarket stuff)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Pepperoni (or meat substitute if you’re a complete coward)
  • An onion
  • A handful of sliced mushrooms
  • One cup of penne pasta
  • Half a brain, for chrissakes


1. In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes a bit frothy.

2. Next, get a large mixing bowl and combine the flour and salt. Make a little crater in the center and pour in the yeast mixture and olive oil. Stir until it becomes all doughy, like dough... which is what it is, you Muppet. Wake up!

3. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5-7 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and leave it somewhere warm for an hour or so. It’ll be ready when it doubles in size.

4. Preheat your oven to 475°F (245°C).

5. Cook your penne and set it to one side. If you need detailed instructions for that, get out of my fucking kitchen. You are a disgrace.

6. Once the dough has arisen, flatten it out with your fists (I’d like to flatten you out with my fists) and roll it out on a floured surface to your desired thickness. Grow up.

7. Now move the rolled-out dough to a pizza pan or baking sheet. Spread the pizza sauce evenly over the dough, leaving a small border for the crust.

8. Distribute the cooked penne evenly around the pizza.

9. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over the penne and the sauce.

10. Distribute the onion, pepperoni, and mushroom slices evenly.

11. Place your uncooked pizza in the oven and watch for 10 to 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it. You’d be surprised how quickly things tend to burn in an oven—that’s why they call it an oven, you idiot.

So, there you have it, my world-famous, patented Pre-Race Pizza Pie, which is actually just a regular pizza with some pasta on top. By all means, purchase a frozen pizza and bring shame upon your family, but I recommend having a crack at making this pizza from scratch. It’ll take your mind off the following day’s race, and you’ll sleep better knowing you’re not a complete piece of shit who will never amount to anything. I’m celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey (I’m not). Goodbye.