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Fuel for the Long Distance Runner!

You’ve signed up a long distance run!

This is such a great event and a big challenge!

Nothing beats the excitement of lining up on race day!! But the fun part is in preparing your body for the challenge. Stepping outside of your comfort zone and seeing what your body and MIND is truly capable of.

By now, you have probably started training your body. BUT there is MUCH more to success in longer distance running than just running!

Fuelling your body well in your both your training and your race is going to mean the difference between feeling flat, heavy and slow OR having a great race and recovering well.

As a seasoned Marathoner, I have tried a lot of things nutritionally in my training. There are some runs where I have literally cried because I felt so exhausted and some runs that I absolutely cruised through.

This is where NUTRITION IS KING!

Fuel the Ferrari for Success!

Whether you are a first-time runner, or a seasoned athlete, the way you fuel your body is just as important as your training runs.

Just like a car, your body needs high octane fuel for training and for a successful race.

Just like you wouldn’t put diesel into your Ferrari…. The right fuel for your body makes a

HUGE difference in both your training and race day performance.

Long distance runners need a high aerobic capacity, strong focus, endurance and strength for their races.

For successful training and racing, our ultimate nutritional goals will be:

  • To Sustain Energy

  • Boost Performance

  • Speed up recovery

  • Preserve muscle mass

So how do we nail our nutritional goals for optimum performance and recovery?

  1. Focus on nutrient timing

If you are training early in the morning, begin fuelling your body the night before.

The longer your runs are, the more attention you will need to pay to these meals to get the outcomes that you’re going for!

Aim for a meal slightly higher in carbohydrates, with quality protein and a small amount of good fat.

Some good ideas might be:

  • Chicken / Lean Meat with Brown Rice and Veggies

  • Chicken / Lean Meat with Mashed Sweet Potato and Veggies

  • Stir fry with rice or noodles

  • Spaghetti Bolognaise

By including quality Protein and Carbohydrates in your pre and post work out meals you will be able to smash your training goals and recovery faster; meaning you can give more in your next session!

The day of a long Training Session

Any training sessions over one hour, really need to be fuelled well.

Ideally aim for a meal 2-3 hours prior to your session. Depending on the time of day you are training, this may be unrealistic.

The closer time is between eating and training, the less time your body will have to digest your meal. To avoid stomach upset, if you have a shorter space before your session, aim to eat meals that easy for your body to digest.

Pre-Training Snack Ideas 1-2 Hours Before Training:

  • Small portion Oats with Banana and milk

  • Peanut Butter and Banana

  • Peanut Butter on Toast

  • Small Baked Potato with Salmon

10 minutes before you run – My hot tip!

If you are training first thing in the morning and don’t have time for breakfast, I have found it really effective to have half a banana or 2 dates as I am lacing up my shoelaces!

This light snack that is high in simple carbohydrates really does the job to help fuel my faster training runs, before I can get home for a proper breakfast. Being a super small morsel, this doesn’t affect my tummy running, but gives me energy to run faster in my training.

If you are somebody who regularly trains in the morning without eating, this might be something for you to try!

Training Session Longer than 1 Hour

If your training session is longer than 90 mins, you may need to fuel your body while you are training.

Pay attention to how you are feeling in your sessions to judge this. If all of a sudden, you are running out of steam, you may need to take an additional energy source to sustain your runs.

Aim for around 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour.

Some portable ideas for easy snacks are:

  • Jellies (these could be homemade)

  • Raisins

  • Small honey


This is one of your MOST important meals of the day. Do NOT skip this one!

Fuelling your body after your training session allows your muscles to recover faster, supports your immune system and your energy! Allowing you to feel more energetic in your next session.

Aim to eat within 60 minutes of finishing training.

Your post workout meal will ideally contain both quality protein and carbohydrates to restock and refuel your body.

Aim for a combination of both Carbohydrates and protein to replace the energy stores in your muscles and help to support and rebuild your muscles. Aim for a ratio of roughly 3:1 Carbohydrates to Protein.

Great post training snack ideas include:

  • Omelette or Eggs on Toast

  • Chicken Wrap with Salad

  • Yogurt with fruit and nuts

  • Sweet potato with Salmon

  • Protein Shake with Banana

Practicing for Race Day

Now is the time to start practicing what to eat for your race day. Start thinking about the foods that are really fuelling your body to race. Don’t leave anything to chance on the day.

If you are planning to use gels or electrolyte drinks on the day, begin to practice your training using the same gels and fluid that you will use on your race day. REMEMBER, if you are using Gels to drink water with them to avoid a stomach upset.

Spice up your training!

For a faster run. Spice up your training. Don’t just focus on longer training runs. To increase your race speed, mix your up training with some interval sprints and resistance training.

For a spicy road run, I like to use power poles as sprint measures! Play with it, you might try sprinting at an all-out pace for 3 poles, jog for 1. Repeat for 3-5 kilometres.

For speed a runner needs to focus on more than just strength in their legs. Runners use their whole body, especially their core. For a time-efficient workout, focus on a full body workout using exercises that incorporate the larger muscle groups, with a big focus on your core.

Some examples of this are Squats, Push Ups, Rows and Hovers.


The lead up to races is always so much fun! Take the pressure off yourself, Fuel well and ENJOY THE JOURNEY!!!!


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