• Proper nutrition is essential for long distance running success. It fuels your body while you’re running and allows you to recover from training sessions at the fastest possible rate. Keep reading to learn how to put together the perfect nutrition program for long distance running.

    Basic Nutrition Plan

    When you’re training for a long distance run, there are some basic dietary guidelines you’ll want to follow to maximize your performance in the weeks leading up to the big race and these are outlined in the section below.

    1. Calories: Eating the right amount of calories is essential when you’re preparing for a long distance run. If you eat too many calories, you’ll gain weight and feel sluggish and this will have a negative impact on your running performance. If you don’t eat enough calories, your body won’t have the energy it needs to perform at its peak during training sessions.

    To calculate how many calories you need when getting ready for a long distance run, use a BMR calculator and then add 100 calories for every mile you’re going to be running. For example, if the BMR calculator says you need to be consuming 2,000 calories per day and you’re going to be running 20 miles that week, you’ll need to add 2,000 calories to your weekly intake and consume around 2,300 calories per day. 

    1. Carbohydrates: Once you know how many total calories you’re going to be eating, you then need to work out how many of these calories are going to come from carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. 

    Carbohydrate are your body’s preferred energy source and since you’re going to be covering lots of miles when training for a big race, you’re going to need more carbs than usual to keep your energy levels high.

    For the best results, make sure that between 50% and 60% of your daily calories come from carbohydrates. Also, try to make sure that the majority of carbs you eat come from starchy sources such as bread, pasta, potatoes and rice. These carbohydrate sources release the energy into your body at a slower rate than sugary carbs and this makes them ideal for long distance running. 

    1. Protein: Protein builds, maintains and repairs all the cells in your body. It helps your body to fully recover from each training session and this enhances your overall results. To ensure that your body has enough protein when preparing for a long distance run, aim to get minimum of 30% of your calories from protein. 
    1. Fats: Fats are a nutrient that many runners neglect but they have countless benefits when it comes to your running performance. Not only do they allow your body to produce energy more efficiently when you exercise but they also keep your heart and lungs healthy which maximizes the supply of oxygen throughout your body when you run. To make sure that your body gets all the dietary fats it needs, consume between 20% and 30% of your daily calories from fats. 
    1. Water: Staying hydrated keeps your energy levels high, helps your muscles contract smoothly while you’re running and protects against dehydration. To ensure that you stay hydrated, drink at least 8 glasses of water each day. If you get bored of just water, you can also mix up your intake by consuming coffee, fruit infused water, smoothies, tea, water rich fruits (such as strawberries and watermelon) and water rich vegetables (such as cucumber and lettuce).

    Before A Long Distance Run

    For the last meal you eat before each long distance run, you’ll want to increase the amount of carbohydrates you’re consuming to 70% of your total caloric intake while also slightly reducing the amount of protein and fats you’re consuming to 15% of your total caloric intake. Doing this will provide you with the extra energy you need just before you hit the road.

    To get the most out of this meal, eat it a couple of hours before you run. This will give your body time to start processing the carbohydrates and releasing them into your bloodstream for when you start running and also prevent any bloating or feelings of fullness while you run.

    The Final 3 Days

    During the final 3 days before the big race, you’ll want to adapt your intake of carbohydrate, protein and fats in the same way as above and ensure that 70% of your total calories come from carbohydrates, 15% of your total calories come from protein and 15% of your total calories come from fats. This will help to maximize your energy levels in time for the run ensure that you don’t get tired mid-race.

    During The Run

    When you’re running, there are a few nutritional tips you can follow to improve your performance. First, you should aim to drink around 500ml of water for every hour that you run. However, it’s important that you listen to your body and drink more water if you feel dehydrated or drink less if you feel overly hydrated. Second, after the first hour you should start drinking sports drinks to replenish the electrolytes in your system. Finally, after the first 30 minutes of running, you should try to consume between 30g and 60g of fast acting carbohydrates each hour. These fast acting carbohydrates can come from energy bars, energy gels or sports drinks.

    After The Run

    What you eat after each run is just as important as what you eat before and during the runs. Once you’ve finished running, you should eat a meal within 30 minutes and this meal should consist of 70% carbohydrates, 15% protein and 15% fats. This is the optimal amount of macronutrients for recovery and will allow your body to quickly recuperate while also keeping your energy levels high after you run. 


    By following the recommendations within this article, you’ll feel more energized and be able to perform at your peak during long distance runs. So adapt your diet today and maximize the results you get from your long distance running preparation.