For runners food is more than just nutrition – it is fuel. What and when we eat and drink before and after our runs not only impacts our runs, but it changes depending on how far and long we run for. In this blog I will be referring to short distance runs as runs that range anywhere up to about 10km or any run that takes about an hour or less or complete.

Get the timing right.

Timing our food intake correctly is essential for our short runs. We do not want to eat immediately before we run as it could leave us feeling heavy or full and create cramping or stitches. However, running on an empty stomach may affect our energy levels, resulting in us hitting a wall early, i.e. fatiguing. The exact timing will vary from runner to runner and it will take time for every runner to figure out exactly what timing works best for them. However, in saying that, as a general rule, consuming a small snack or meal 30 to 60 minutes before a run may be the most ideal timing.

Examples of some foods a runner could have before a short distance run:

  • Fruit
  • Yoghurt
  • Avocado
  • Oats or oatmeal
  • Whole Grain bread, pasta or quinoa

Consume the right nutrients.

Carbohydrates are a runner’s best friend! Even for short distance runners. Music to your ears right?! This is because our bodies work most efficiently when we consume the right type of carbohydrates, which are whole grain carbohydrates. Protein is also essential fuel for runners. As we know protein helps repair tissue damage and promote tissue growth within our muscles during our runs.

Stay Hydrated.

As a runner it is very important to be hydrated all the time. We need to drink before we run and after we run. Drinking during a short run may not be necessary for everyone though. This may depend on how much you sweat. When hydrating before a run it is recommended to drink small amounts regularly, two to four hours before your run. After a run, we need to replace and replenish lost fluids immediately.

Article by: Tammy Mond, Nutrionist

** Disclaimer: These tips are just a general guideline that may help short distance runners. Remember every runner, and every run is different. It may take some trial and error to figure out what is best for you and your runs.