As runner’s we often track just about every conceivable statistic in an attempt to compare our runs to previous efforts, and of course to improve. Less common though is the action of tracking what food we eat. Here’s what you’re missing out on if you don’t.


Faster racing

We know what our body needs, within scientifically proven ranges, when it comes to protein, carbohydrate, fat, salts and fluids for racing. Tracking your food in relation to these targets means you get the best performance you can on the day. 

For instance you could have put in all the mileage you want in training for a marathon, but if you’re only consuming 20-30g of carbohydrate per hour when study after study has shown we can absorb up to 60g/hour of glucose (not including fructose derived carbohydrate), then you’re missing a trick.


Better recovery

Every run we do damages our muscles a little, and that’s ok, but if your protein consumption is too low, your recovery from that run won’t be tip top. Nearly all of us think of our energy levels after a long run, but if you add in protein alongside those carbs, you’ll come back stronger.

I’ve seen newspapers with attention grabbing headlines about protein and its risks, and some stats thrown around that we consume too much. I’ve been working with people on nutrition since 2012, and have never seen a runner or normally active person consuming too much, only people looking to gain weight who have been suckered by the supplement companies.

Protein may well not need any supplementation for runners, as endurance athletes do best in ranges of 1.4-1.6g/kg of bodyweight i.e. a 60kg runner should be aiming for 84g-96g per day.


Weight management and body composition

We run faster when we’re lighter. Drop that weight from your body fat stores only, and you’re really onto a winner. By looking more in depth at what we eat and the amounts of nutrient we consume, it’s easier to lose weight the right way for performance by maintaining the muscle we need to run, and losing the body fat that slows us down.

Just 5% of our total weight lost as body fat makes us around 3% faster over 3km according to a study in 2017 by National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece. 2Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, United Kingdom.  


So if better recovery, faster racing and more successful weight management are the results of tracking and adjusting food accordingly, and your goal is to run or race faster, the only question is why you wouldn’t do it?


Written by Kyle Brooks, Running Coach based in Norwich, Norfolk