Meal Plan for a Runner – Long Distance

Long distance running is very much endurance with a high demand on the cardiovascular system. Long distance events range from 5km to a marathon. Training for the events will involve gym work 2-3 times per week and road running for a few kilometres 1-2 times per week, with a longer distance practice just once every few weeks. Longer distance runs are very enduring and are a high demand on energy levels. Following an event no training for a few days is essential to recuperate.

Long distance runners generally do not carry a deal of muscle mass, but will have strong leg tendon strength and excellent fitness. Following a meal plan like the one below will be ideal for a typical week's training, but both pre- and post-event carbohydrate loading is recommended in order to maximise the muscle and liver carbohydrate stores.

Here's a sample meal plan for a long distance runner to follow for a typical training day:

Porridge: 75g oats + tbsp ground linseeds + 250ml skimmed milk + tsp sugar
2 slices granary bread, toasted + olive oil based spread + natural crunchy peanut butter
250ml fresh fruit juice
2-3 oatcakes + 150g cottage cheese or quark
Item fruit
Mug green tea
Sandwich made with granary bread + olive oil based spread with lean ham/chicken or large mackerel fillet
100g mixed nuts, seeds & dried fruit
Mixed salad
Low fat, low sugar yoghurt
2 squares Easy Flapjacks
Large handful mixed nuts
Large banana
Mug green tea
30 minutes pre-training
2-3 oatcakes
100g mixed nuts, seeds & dried fruit
Running / gym training
Sip plenty of water or isotonic drink where possible
Immediately post training
20g maltodextrin + 20g dextrose in water
Evening meal
(45 mins later)
Lean fillet steak or chicken breast or fish + herbs to taste
Boiled new potatoes or basmati rice or dry roasted sweet potatoes or wholewheat pasta
Loads of vegetables
Low fat, no added sugar yoghurt
Unsweetened muesli + 200ml skimmed milk
Item fruit
1 hour pre-bed
2-3 satsumas
Small handful mixed nuts & seeds

The above plan provides sufficient levels of all nutrients, however do bear in mind that the plan is merely a general guide, and there is no mention of portion sizes on purpose so that you can adapt it to suit yourself; remember men will generally require larger portions than women! You must eat a variety of different meats/fish, complex carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables every day, and drink plenty of water. This plan is based around sustained slow released low glycaemic carbohydrates to help provide energy for exercise sessions. Oatcakes and granary bread will top up this slow released energy through the daytime. See our Glycaemic Index Tables for GI values of foods.

Plans for people with illness or medical conditions in no way should override advice provided specifically for you by your doctor, clinical dietitian or other clinician. We advise that you seek the advice of a suitably qualified physician before commencing any exercise regime, following any dietary or nutritional regimen or beginning the use of any dietary supplements, legal or otherwise. The information provided on the Website is intended as information only and does not constitute advice. Therefore, it must not be relied on to assist in making or refraining from making a decision, or to assist in deciding on a course of action.