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Five Common Runner Nutrition Mistakes

Updated: May 14

Training for a race is no easy feat. You put in months of training, dedication, stamina, and mental toughness to get to the start line. Get the most out of your training with proper nutrition. It’s one of the most powerful tools you have as a runner. 

Check out five of the most common nutrition mistakes I see runners make.  

Under eating the first half of the day. Mornings can be hectic, especially if you’re a morning runner. Many runners fail to eat enough and eat balanced meals with carbohydrates, protein, fat and fiber at breakfast and/or lunch. This can lead to craving sweets by mid-afternoon or overeating at night. 

Failing to practice your race day fueling plan.  Just like you train your legs and body to run a specific distance, your stomach is a muscle and can be trained to digest energy gels, chews or food while you run. This is key if you want to feel energized and avoid stomach problems, muscle cramps, headaches and nausea on race day. 

Poor hydration. Staying hydrated is more than just drinking water. Your body needs a balance of fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. During a long run, most runners will need anywhere from 250 to 1,000+ mg of sodium PER HOUR. You can assure you get the balance by carrying an electrolyte beverage or taking salt tablets/capsules with water.

Using food as a reward. Have you ever told yourself, "I just ran 5 miles so I deserve to eat a donut." Food doesn’t need to be used to justify or reward a behavior. It’s simply fuel for your body and important for your mental wellbeing. Focus on eating foods you enjoy mindfully. 

Trying all the fad diets. Restricting calories, cutting out whole food groups, or limiting the time of day you eat (i.e. not eating before a morning run) can hinder performance and increase risk of losing muscle mass. Work with a Registered Dietitian who specializes in helping runners to feel confident with knowing how to eat for your training.

This article originally appeared in the The Connection, TCM's weekly e-newsletter. Subscribe here.


Kristy Baumann, RD, LD, is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in working with runners. She is one of the team of Motion Experts TCM has gathered to help its subscribers and participants get the most out of their running. Have a question for Kristy: [email protected], Instagram: @marathon.nutritionist or website:


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