Your body needs adequate fuel from food to power your muscles and keep you energized while running. But what and how much each runner needs depends on the length of your run, the timing of your previous meal or snack, and your body’s own, unique digestion. If training for a longer distance run use long training runs to try out new foods (gels, chews and hydration mixes).

An optimal diet for runners, and other endurance athletes, in weeks prior to a long race (such as a half marathon, or longer), should be roughly 50-60% carbohydrate, 20-25% protein, and the balance from fat. The few days before can be used to carbo load by increasing the amount of carbohydrate.

In general, focus on easy-to-digest carbohydrates, which provide a quick source of energy. Carbohydrates break down in our digestive tract the fastest (as compared to foods rich in protein or fat) and therefore fuel your muscles and brain at the start of your run. Avoid foods high in fat or fiber, which require more time to digest, and may lead to unwanted stomach cramps while running.


If you’re running for less than an hour, grab a small, carbohydrate-rich snack about 30 minutes before your run. Good suggestions:

–Low fat or fat free yogurt with berries
–Graham cracker squares (3)
–1 Ounce pretzels or animal crackers
–Low fiber cereal (less than 2gm fiber) with skim or 1% milk (lactose free if needed)
–English muffin or 2 slices of bread with jelly


For runs lasting longer than an hour, your body may require more food. Pre-run snacks should contain a small to moderate amount of protein, which helps provide longer-lasting energy, and may require more time to digest. Aim to eat this snack about 1 hour before running. You may also bring gels or chews to consume along the run. Some races may provide these, but it is advisable to train with them on long training runs to avoid digestive surprises during the event. Good suggestions:

–Banana with peanut butter or bagel with peanut butter
–Deli turkey and 1 slice of low-fat cheese in a whole wheat wrap
–Steel-cut oats mixed with skim or 1% milk and topped with berries