Top nutrition tips for runners

Yes, No, maybe: why is getting nutrition right for runners so hard?

Being an experienced Dietitian, and having run for over 10 years I have learnt a lot about nutrition and performance and hope to share this with you in my blogs. These blogs will focus on different elements of nutrition, where I will translate complex nutritional science into easy understandable practical information you can apply to your running life to help improve health and performance.

I thought I would start off with my 7 key tips I have learnt over the decade, I feel these are the fundamental nutritional aspects every runner needs to understand in order to get the finer detail right…

1. Timing of meals is very important

Figuring out what time to eat your meals in conjunction with your running can be a challenge in itself. Often, people find them questioning do I eat something now… or will I be doubled over with cramps? The timing of pre and post-run nutrition is key to enhance performance and aid recovery. A general rule is to try and eat a snack one to two hours before, and eat as soon as you are able to post-run.

2. Hydrate!

Hydration is key, dehydration in athletes may lead to fatigue, headaches, muscle cramping and it can even slow you down! And sorry to inform you caffeinated drinks and alcohol is not classed as hydrating your body.

3. Eat carbohydrates

LOVE THY CARBS, at the minute we are in a generation of fad dieting and there is a craze amongst the general public and runners to take carbohydrates out of their diet. Carbohydrates are essential to fuel our body and runs.

4. Eat protein

Protein is 100% an essential ingredient to everyone’s diet. Protein helps to aid growth and repair of muscles.

5. Don’t run on empty

Running on an empty stomach can cause low blood sugars. These can make you feel tired, lightheaded, dizzy and will affect your effort during the run it will often make you want to cut your run shorter or even make you go slow.

6. Stick to what you know- practice practice practice

It’s a good idea to find what works for you and stick to that. Tried and tested meal options you know works so why change it? Everyone is different, and there may be certain foods that you know your body cannot handle with before a run for me it’s a curry …

7. If you are unsure about nutrition seek advice from a TRAINED health care professional, for example, a registered Dietitian or sports nutritionist.

Anna Hardman
Anna Hardman is an Advanced Dietetic Practitioner, with over 10 years of experience delivering nutritional education, advice, and support to a wide range of different client groups. Anna has worked alongside the media such as The Telegraph and The Guardian debunking nutritional myths. She has produced an article which has been published in Complete Nutrition, as well as being a presenter on an expert panel at BAPEN.