5 healthy eating rules for runners

This content has been created in collaboration with New Balance.

Every runner is different, but some nutritional tips and tricks are universal. Whether you’ve stepped up your training plan and found yourself feeling hungrier than ever before, or had to abandon a long weekend run after food-induced stomach cramps, these diet rules from New Balance ambassador and fitness blogger AJ Odudu (@ajodudu) will help you perfect your plan.

1/ Hydrate

It’s easy to underestimate how much you need to increase your water intake when you step up your training. And when it comes to pre-race days staying properly hydrated is even more important.

“On average we’re meant to drink 2-3 litres each day, but for regular runners I’d recommend 3-5 litres,” says Odudu. You don’t need fancy apps or tech to keep yourself on track. Buy a one litre bottle of water and experiment with consuming between 3 and 5 litres. There’s an obvious bathroom-based way to check you’re properly hydrated. We’re far too refined to spell out.

2/ Embrace carbs

While we’re not suggesting switching your diet to a menu of pizza, bread and pasta, there is a reason even the greenest new runner is aware of the concept of carb loading. It works.

You power your runs using your glycogen stores. Which, for the most part, are derived from carbohydrates. “People who are exercising to lose weight often try cutting out carbs, but that’s when you need them the most,” says AJ. “Don’t you dare put down the sweet potato!” And get your fill of brown rice and porridge, too.

3/ Snack right

Preparation is everything. Run more and you will snack more. So to avoid grazing on biscuits and crisps, you’ll need to have some healthy options to hand.

AJ adds snacks rather than extra meals when her training is at an all time high. “I might have 10 almonds straight after a workout, then a protein shake and then a meal,” she says.

At the start of your working week stock up on fruit and nuts and store them both at work and at home. Snacking on a handful of nuts with a piece of fruit provides protein for muscle repair and development and natural sugars for an energy boost. Beats those bourbons every time.

4/ Eat long before your start time

When you’re training hard every meal is important. But the last meal before your big race is by far the most crucial.

AJ avoids coffee and eats four hours before the start of the race – both good rules of thumb. But, of course, every body is different.

Over the course of your training regime, experiment with your final fuel up before long runs and find what works for you. It’s a delicate balance between ensuring you’ve eaten enough to power you through your whole race and avoiding any unscheduled toilet stops.

5/ Don’t try anything new on race day

Experimentation is for early in your training programme. On race day, stick to what you know and use the nutritional tactics that have served you best. Free jelly beans being handed out at the mile eight water stop can seem a good idea at the time, but if you’ve not eaten them during training it’s not worth the risk. Even if you really like the red ones.

New Balance Toughest Opponent is a story about the battles we have within ourselves. The niggling mind games that play out between our ears that make us question whether to run that extra mile, to lift that heavier weight, or to go forward and push harder, faster and stronger than we did the day before. Find out more at: http://www.newbalance.co.uk/TougestOpponent.

You are your toughest opponent.