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Right Foods, Right Times

Eating at the right times is crucial to ensure that you keep your body adequately fuelled for optimal running

You have been following your schedule, you have been eating all the 'right' things, yet you sometimes feel lethargic, ill or bloated when you run. The reason for this could be the timing of your meals. 'What you have, when', can make a difference to how you run and how quickly you recover.

We often fit in runs around our busy lives so the following two programmes will show you how to plan your meals and snacks to optimise your training.

The after-work run



Some carbohydrate (cereal, porridge, toast) with some protein (milk, yogurt, egg) and fruit. Your carbohydrate stores will be low in the morning. If you miss breakfast, you are likely to feel very hungry later and to grab an unhealthy snack that will make you feel worse when the sugar rush wears off.


A mix of slow release (low GI) carbohydrate (wholemeal pasta, basmati rice, wholemeal bread) some protein (cheese, fish, beans, chicken, meat) and vegetables. This meal is your main fuel for your run. The protein helps lower the GI, slowing the release of energy.


Afternoon snack

About 1 - 2 hours before your run, an easily digested, high carbohydrate snack such as a bowl of cereal or toast. This is to top up your carbohydrate stores.


Have dinner within two hours of your run (if not possible, have a sandwich or smoothie). This is when you absorb the carbohydrate best, helping you recover faster. By having carbohydrate and protein together, the carbohydrate uptake into your muscles is more effective.

The morning / weekend run


The night before

Should contain carbohydrate (pasta / bread / potatoes). If your dinner is early, try and have another high carbohydrate snack for supper.


You need some carbohydrate at this meal but this can vary from a bowl of cereal and toast if you are running 3 hours later or an isotonic sports drink or banana if you have only half an hour to spare! The less you plan to eat here, the more important the night before is for fuelling.


This post run meal should be had within 2 hours (or have a snack if your lunch is not planned for over 2 hours). You may not be hungry at this meal as exercise can blunt your appetite. If so, have a small snack and then another mid afternoon.

Baked potatoes

Mid afternoon snack

If you are hungry, have some carbohydrate and protein such as a bagel and tuna, a jacket potato and beans or chicken sandwich


This meal has the least impact on your running, especially if the next day is a rest day. Choose something you enjoy!

During your run

Jelly Beans

On a run of over 90 minutes, you need extra, quick acting carbohydrate during your session. Try dried fruit, jelly sweets, sports drink or gels. Have small amounts every half hour or so.

Article by Nathalie Jones.

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