Nutrition for Running
Melissa Murray, RD CDE
October is a prime month for races. You’ve worked hard training all summer, and now want to
ensure your nutrition is on point for race day! The right balance of nutrition is an important
contribution to how you feel during a run as well as in recovery after. The guidelines below will
help to keep you feeling your best on your runs and races!
- Carbohydrates & water are the most important macronutrients prior to a run, as this is
the main fuel source for your muscles (bread, crackers, fruit, granola bar).
- Keep it low in fibre & fat, so that it’s easier on your digestive system. Include some
easy-to-digest protein to keep you full (hummus, peanut butter, yogurt, etc).
- Aim to have a meal 3-4 hours before or a snack 30-60minutes before your run.
During a Run:
- For runs under an hour, all you need is water. Have 3-4 sips every 15-20mins.
- Runs lasting an hour or longer, fuel is beneficial (gels, chews, or natural) to keep your
muscles supplied with energy and replace your electrolytes. A good rule of thumb is a
gel every 40-45mins.
- Some people find gels containing ginger easier on the stomach (found in some maple
gels) or relying on sports drink to re-fuel. Your muscles need about 30gm of
carbohydrate per hour of activity (roughly the amount in 1 gel).
- Optimal recovery occurs when refuelling within an hour after your run.
- Aim to have protein + carbohydrates at this time to replace what you’ve lost + help with
muscle recovery & repair.
- Some people find it easier to start with a liquid (ie. smoothie) as the circulation may not
be back to your digestive tract yet.
Tips for Race Day:
- Practice whatever you want to do on race day in your long training runs, even down to
the flavour of Gatorade offered in the race (if you plan to use it). Do not try anything new!
- Consider the timing of your breakfast before the race compared to long runs. You may
want to bring a banana, crackers or an extra gel with you to top up before the race starts.
- Don’t forget to refuel within an hour after the race, and celebrate!!
Interested in learning more about fuelling your body prior to or during activity? Visit Melissa at
Trilogy Physio, West Toronto location (416-232-2343) or follow her @healthy_me.l