Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

Fueling Running Success Tips

Fueling Running Success

Fueling running success means you must have attention to detail. Like a car, a runner who wants to operate at his or her most optimum potential needs their particular set of fuels.

They needs the right combination of carbs, proteins and fats to fuel his running. I know everyone's body is different. My wife almost entirely organic foods while she is training and it seems to work best for her.

You may be a vegetarian that doesn't eat meat but supplement your diet with other foods high in iron such as spinach, beans and nuts.

Each of these food groups has a specific function to fulfill in the body. Getting the right amount and mix of these important nutrients is the right step onwards to success in your sport.


The primary fuel for exercising muscles and for high-intensity exercises are carbohydrates. The athlete's body needs around 50 to 65% carbohydrates in his or her food intake to support training.

Lacking enough carbohydrates causes the body to under-perform and cannot burn fats as effectively as it should during workouts. It should be the staple of your diet before, during and after each exercise, including intervals throughout the day.

Carbohydrates abound in such food as whole grain breads, pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, corn, beans, and low-fat dairy products.

These days, many people make do with easily digestible carbohydrates from sports drinks or gels. Consult your sports nutritionist for the exact amounts of your carbohydrates requirements.

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Proteins are important because they build and repair muscles, ligaments, and tendons ñ all essentials in becoming a strong athlete.

You can get your proteins from such sources as egg whites, poultry (with the skin), fish, ground turkey or chicken breast, lean ground beef, game meat, nuts, tofu and soy milk and low-fat dairy products.

They are more important after workouts than before or during. This is because proteins help the body repair itself after strenuous activities like exercises and workouts.

Studies have shown that chocolate milk taken immediately after a long run or workout is even better then sports drinks and is packed with protein.

The more you run (or train as an athlete) the more you need proteins to a point. Your needs depend on how many hours a week you run, or if you are trying to lose body fat or if you are lifting weights.

I would also highly advise you to take an iron tablet daily. I have said this in numerous posts and will continue to bring up because this is probably one of the most neglected practices runners are not paying enough attention.

It means a lot to me because I don't want to see other runners, who have all the motivation money can buy and yet not produce the results they deserve on account of something they can control like keeping their iron stores high within their body.

You lose iron through sweat and foot strike hemolysis, meaning every time your foot strikes the ground you are bursting red blood cells diminishing the amount of oxygen capacity your body possesses.

Taking a 65mg iron tablet on a daily basis will keep your iron and blood ferritin levels high and guard you against becoming anemic like I was back in 2007, without knowing.


The last food group, fat, helps sustain prolonged exercises at lower intensities. Our bodies have enough stored fat to fuel prolonged exercise.

However, fat is difficult to use for quick energy. This is why carbohydrates are the choice fuel during most exercises.

That being said, if you can train the body to utilize fat as its primary fuel source and conserve carbohydrates during your racing you will offset the effects of the ‘wall' and not experience it at all.

You will only be able to do this by training at higher speeds for gradually longer periods of time. This form of training is extremely taxing, but that is why running times that your seeking, which you know are hard, are difficult to attain.

Running easy has its purpose for overall general fitness and recovery runs but to run fast, the body has to be stressed, have proper rest between, then stressed again.

Athletes need about 20 to 30% of calories from fats. Healthy sources of fats include fatty fish (salmon for omega 3 fatty acids), nuts and natural peanut butter, avocado, olive oil, and canola oil.

Unfortunately, most people get too much fat in their diets. What is worse is that too much of these fat come from unhealthy fats (saturated and trans-fats from sausages, burgers, French fries, donuts, sweets and many more).

How many Kenyans would you think eat these forms of food while training in the high altitude of Ngong Hills or Kapsabet? 0

It is fine to enjoy fatty foods from time to time but to if you want to be a better runner, lose weight or drop time off your personal best you have to keep these forms of foods in check.

Correct Balance

For an athlete, achieving the right balance of these three all-important food groups is the first step to fulfill your potential. Your day-to-day diet had to be adjusted accordingly to support your training.

Since everyone is different from the next person, it is important that your diet is suited to your exact personal body needs.

Remember, running (especially competitive running) can be as strenuous as any other energy use-intensive sports. Your body fuel should not be taken lightly.

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