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Nutrition and Hydration Guidance



Endurance activities require continuous muscle contraction, which means the body requires constant production of ATP when running. ATP synthesizes in many different ways in your body, some systems being more efficient and faster than others. Endurance training (like running) and appropriate pre / post-meal nutrition aids in the body’s ability to produce ATP at a rapid rate during exercise and will aid in repair/recovery. 


There are three macronutrients essential to running and recovery:



During exercise the body will use forms of carbohydrate, fats and protein. To that end, it is important to replenish these macronutrients after exercise. Not only to increase your athletic performance but also to help you in your day to day activities - like learning.




Carbohydrate intake is critical in ATP synthesis, cell repair and other functions within the body. So, it is important to eat enough of this macronutrient before and after exercise. The timeline of your post-exercise meal or snack is important too, as the body is more willing to absorb carbohydrate in the hour preceding a run. To that end, eating a carbohydrate rich snack within 30 - 60 minutes of your run will optimize the replenishment of glycogen in your muscles and therefore will help you recover better. 


The amount of carbohydrate an athlete should consume varies on training time and intensity. In general, however, it is recommended an athlete consume around 5 - 7g/kg of carbohydrate per day if training lasts for 30 - 60 minutes. For longer training sessions, an athlete should consider consuming between 7 - 10g/kg of carbohydrate per day. 


Examples of carbohydrate rich snacks: 


  • Banana, Apples, other fresh fruits 

  • Bagel

  • Whole Grain Bread/Toast 

  • Oatmeal




Fat intake is an important part of an athletes diet. Fats hold a tremendous amount of energy compared to carbohydrates and protein, and can be used to produce ATP. In fact, after about an hour of running, your body will rely on fats within your body for energy because the glycogen in your muscles will be depleted by that point. So, it's important your body has some fat to use when it needs it. 


Consistent endurance training will help your body become even more efficient at using fats as energy. This is one reason (among many others) why we encourage athletes to train throughout the year. 


But aren’t all fats bad for you? No! Some fats are considered good and necessary, like omega-3 and 6 fatty acids (found in nuts, seeds, chia, and some eggs and are very important to brain health), polyunsaturated fats (e.g., soybean oil, tofu, flaxseed) and monounsaturated fats (e.g., olive oils, avocado, nuts). 




Protein intake is critical to many of the body’s processes, including regulatory functioning, immune system, fluid maintenance, and muscle maintenance, repair and synthesis. Getting enough protein in your diet will ensure your body has enough to keep regular bodily processes running while at the same time able to make and/or repair metabolic proteins and skeletal muscles critical to adaptations to your training. 


Like carbohydrates, timing of when you eat protein after exercise is important. Be sure to incorporate some protein in your post run snack, within 30 - 60 minutes after your run. 


The amount of protein an athlete should consume also varies on training time and intensity. In general, however, it is recommended an athlete consume around 1.2g/kg - 2.0g/kg of protein per day. 


Examples of protein rich snacks/foods:


  • Eggs

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Lean meats, like chicken, fish or turkey

  • Tofu

  • Beans, lentils




Appropriate hydration is very important to all functioning within the body. Dehydration can have significant health concerns, so it is important to hydrate throughout the day. In fact, even being a little dehydrated can impact athletic performance by causing fatigue, poor concentration, decreased endurance and power, and more. 


Fluid intake varies based on age, body size, activity level and other factors. Generally speaking, an athlete should drink about 2.5 - 4 liters per day. 

But what does this mean? 2.5 liters = 2.75 Nalgene bottles or large Hydroflasks, 3.5 regular sized Hydroflasks, 5 Swell bottles

Hydration tips


Before exercise: 


  • Wake up and have a tall glass of water, to replace any fluids lost while you were sleeping.

  • Slowly drink about 16 oz of water 2 hours prior to running/exercise, and then another 8 - 16 oz 15 - 30 minutes prior to running/exercise. (Find what works best for you!)


During exercise: 


  • Drink 4 - 6 oz every 20 minutes or so, especially while on a long run or during vigorous exercise.

    • If you don’t have access to a drinking fountain or water, then bring a small hand held water bottle.

    • If your run is going to be about 25 - 30 minutes, then be sure to drink right after you are finished running before you perform strides or any other post-run work.


After exercise: 


  • You will lose water during exercise and it's hard to predict how much, so try to drink 16 - 24oz when you get home from a running practice. Then, drink an additional glass of water or two at dinner time. 

  • If you are thirsty, then be sure to drink because your body is probably a bit dehydrated if you’ve gotten to the point of being thirsty. 


Additional hydration tips: 


  • Eating watery foods (like fruits and veggies) help with hydration too. 

  • Make sure that you are also replacing electrolytes (i.e., sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium). Electrolytes are also lost during exercise through sweat, and it is important your body has enough of these minerals to ensure appropriate functioning of your cells. Being deficient in electrolytes can cause cramping and other bodily function concerns.


  • Here are some strategies to help you replace electrolytes lost after exercise:

    • Eating a variety of foods after you exercise, like a glass of milk (calcium), a banana (potassium) and dried fruit (magnesium) or a salad filled with a variety of leafy greens, beans, veggies and fruits.

    • Adding a pinch of salt to a meal (you don’t need much) 

    • Sports drinks

      • Try to find a sports drink that isn’t high in sugar.

      • An example is having a Nuun tab, which has worked very well for Coach Danielle in the past.

What all of this means? Training AND nutrition are both important factors in your success and health as a runner and a student. Not having enough energy will eventually limit your performance and ability to recover from all the hard work you do while at practice (and in the classroom!). Working a balanced eating habit into your daily routine will reduce fatigue during training, help you recover, and will help you think - which is so important as a high school athlete!


General Nutrition Guidelines


  • Eat a wide variety of foods that include all macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins)

  • Don’t skimp on your (complex) carbohydrates. Carbs = energy. Energy = movement. 

    • What are examples of complex carbohydrates? Fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, sweet potatoes, beans, quinoa, farro, brown rice. 

    • Remember: Athletes should get about 5 - 10g/kg of carbohydrate on a daily basis, depending on the length and intensity of a workout. With that said, try not to overthink it - just make sure not to skimp on the carbs and you will be in a good place! 

  • Make sure you are getting enough protein through a variety of sources. 

    • What are examples of good protein sources? Lean meats, tofu, nuts, combining foods that have essential amino acids (like beans and rice - this is a great way to get carbs too!) 

    • Remember: Athletes should get about 1.2 - 2.0 g/kg of protein on a daily basis to ensure appropriate repair and rebuild from training. 

  • Do not avoid healthy fats. 

    • What are examples of healthy sources of fat? Avocado, nuts and seeds, olive oil. 

  • Snack! Snacks will keep you satiated throughout the day, and will help you have the energy you need for an afternoon practice. Find a snack that works well for you, as this can be highly dependent on how you tolerate food prior to a bout of exercise. 

  • Eat some carbs and protein within an hour of your running or exercise. This will help you replenish your glycogen stores and help you recover more effectively. 

    • What are some more examples of a post run snack? Banana and nut butter, Apple and trail mix, Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich, Turkey sandwich on a whole grain bread with leafy greens. 

  • Limit sugary drinks, like juice and soda.

  • Err on the side of natural foods versus processed foods. 

  • Stay hydrated! 


Pre-race Guidelines


  • Find out what foods you can tolerate before a run during practice. Everyone is different, so it can take some experimenting on what foods work well for you.

  • Focus more on carbohydrate intake over fat and protein on race, and limit high fiber foods. 

  • Eat a carbohydrate (e.g., pasta, rice, sweet potato) rich, easily digestible meal the night before your race. Be sure to include some protein and some veggies too. 

  • And don't forget to hydrate! (See above)


  • Pre-race ideas: 

    • Toast, banana and nut butter (and water!)

    • Bagel, nut butter, apple slices (and water!) 

    • Sandwich (with chicken or turkey), fruit (and water!)

    • Eggs, toast, orange slices (and water!)

Further exploration: 


What is ATP?


Human Metabolism and Nutrition, Part 1


Human Metabolism and Nutrition, Part 2


The Functions of Carbohydrates


Protein Metabolism During Exercise


Performance Nutrition for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald

  • Contact Coach Danielle if you want to borrow this book! 


Coach’s favorite cookbooks and recipes: 


  • Run Fast. Eat Slow., Shalene Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky


Curious about any of these books? Contact Coach Danielle and she can send you her favorite recipes from each! 


Don’t cook yet and are nervous about starting? That’s okay! The key to learning how to do anything is simply to try, be comfortable with failure (I know I’ve burned several things...and continue to do so), and have fun. And, starting now gives you a heads start after high school. You can impress all your friends with dishes when they are just learning how to boil water. 

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