3 ways to improve your nutrition for better running

Even if you generally eat well, taking a closer look at your diet may lead to performance gains.


by Jenny Hadfield
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I’ve seen runners shatter their personal best times by simply keeping an eye on what they eat. Like training, it’s more than just following a standard, generalised programme.

As you train, you begin to identify how your body reacts to various workouts and plans, which allows you to calibrate your training according to what works for you. The same is true for nutrition. What works for one runner may not be the best for another. For instance, I coach one runner who is very low in iron and another that runs too high in iron. If they both followed the general recommendation to eat more iron-rich foods, it would help one and might hurt the other.

The key is to take steps towards identifying the foods that nourish your body and begin to develop your personal nutrition plan. Here are three ways to personalise your nutrition to improve your running performance.

Take inventory

It’s easier than ever to track what you eat. Many use apps to take inventory of what they eat to gain a big picture on all the nutritional variables including fat, carbohydrate and protein percentages; frequency and portions; and sugar and fibre. Setting yourself up with an account and investing a month in tracking everything you eat allows you to view your nutritional performance just like your runs, and seeing is understanding. You’ll be able to determine what tweaks you can make to improve, whether that’s eating more to fuel performance and recovery, getting in enough protein, or cutting out added sugars.

Hire a personal nutritionist

Like working with a personal trainer, meeting with a sports nutritionist can improve your performance because you’ll get a plan based on the demands of your training and life schedule. The nutritionist builds a nutritional program that supports your body so it can recover optimally and maintain a healthy weight. One of the most common mistakes runners make is under-fuelling, especially when they are trying to lose weight during the season. Getting personal guidance helps you avoid the many pitfalls of tweaking your diet and risking poor recovery and performance.

Consider visiting your doctor

If you’ve taken steps toward improving your diet and you’re not feeling or performing better, you may have a deficiency. A standard blood test can indicate whether you’re low in iron, calcium or other key nutrients. A nutritionist can help you rectify these problems.

Whether you’re trying to make performance gains or attain more energy and vigor in life, it all boils down to the old adage that we are what we eat. When you focus in on improving and customising your nutrition, greatness happens.


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