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FOOD For Beginner Runners
FOOD FOR ... Running Episode 15628th September 2023 • She Runs Eats Performs • Runners Health Hub
00:00:00 00:49:58

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How to nail foundational nutrition for your easy short runs and for overall great health and well-being! Get this RIGHT and it’ll help you feel energetic and strong, get it WRONG and you may experience fatigue, poor recovery and be prone to injury. Listen today if you are beginner runner or if you are a beginner to nutrition for running.

We are sharing some of the typical questions and the dilemmas that beginner runners face and will  also give some foodie suggestions for meal plans too. We’ll be outlining some key nutrition advice and tips for easy short training runs.

A BIG thank you to our Show Sponsor AMAZING JANE ACTIVE WEAR. Please use discount code RHH10 for 10% off ALL purchases at



Who is a beginner runner?

They may be totally new to running or perhaps they’re building up to their first 5k or 10k race. This level of nutrition plan is great for any runner doing shorter duration runs of under 90 minutes. Every beginner runner has a different entry level when it comes to fitness, body composition, confidence and how they eat every day. Their goals for running, health, body composition and nutrition will vary too.


 The KEY Nutrition Principles a beginner runner or a beginner to nutrition for running should consider:

·      Choose quality nutrient dense food and ingredients

·      Use our easy training athlete plate

·      Eating 3 meals a day at regular intervals and avoid grazing on snacks

·      Eating a rainbow of colourful of non-root starchy vegetables at each meal

·      Following this approach 80% of the week makes it a sustainable plan

Download Athletes Easy Training Plate Graphic


The 2 Nutrition and fuelling mistakes that beginner runners make:

·      Under Eating

·      Over Eating

Most people will unintentionally under eat … but if they do that over a period of time, they may experience fatigue, lack of energy during a run, poor recovery and also there is a potential for muscle loss.

Those who overeat may think they need extra food to fuel short distance running, when they don’t need to. A healthy everyday food plan is usually enough to sustain short distance easy running. T

They may also be eating extra as they feel hungrier, this may be a result of their body adapting to their new exercise routine.

If you eat more than your body requires you may gain weight or if one of your running goals is to lose or maintain weight this may not be achievable.


(12:13) Typical Questions from Beginner Runners

 What do I need to eat when I go on a short easy run?

As a beginner runner you will be running short easy distances. So normal healthy every day eating will be sufficient to sustain easy distance running. A supportive habit to develop is to eat 1-2 hours before you run, you’ll be adequately fuelled and that timing will give your digestive system time to work so you’re not running on a full stomach. It is important that you follow a healthy food plan as we’ve described earlier.


Is fasted state running good for weight loss?

Fasted state running means running early in the morning before you have eaten breakfast. This is not something to do at any other time of the day. You should only run in a fasted state for easy runs below 90 minutes.

 If your schedule allows, try to run/walk in the morning before you eat. This may encourage the body to use fat as fuel and support a positive body composition, but this will depend on your food choices following your run and throughout the remainder of the day!!


Since I started running, I'm so hungry all the time and can't stop eating? How can I get my appetite under control?

As a beginner runner your body is getting used to doing some extra exercise and that is probably why you’re noticing changes in your appetite. Our TOP advice is to follow our steps of eating 3 meals every day and choose foods following the EASY training plate.  Eat this way consistently and your hunger pangs and cravings will disappear. Another TIP is to ensure you are well hydrated - often dehydration can lead to cravings/hunger pangs.


Hydration TIPS for beginner runners

Take a similar approach as to food and ensure you are optimally hydrated throughout the day – sip water throughout your day – 1.5-2L per day is general guidance

You may not need to sip water during a short easy run, however if you are a beginner, it may be a good idea to practice carrying water and sipping whilst you run.

Have a glass of water before a run and one afterwards. The amount of water you consume will be affected by your sweat rate and the climate.


I follow a low carb diet and I'm worried that I'll have to carb load to run longer distances - what can I do? I'm scared of carbs!

We truly get this "fear", it's a common one. It's important to eat small portions of complex carbohydrates with each meal and that should be enough to fuel easy short running distances.

·      Eat ¼ plate of complex carbohydrate at each meal (decrease portion size for weight management)

However, remember when your distances and durations increase it’s vital that you increase carbohydrate intake in line with your energy expenditure.


What should I eat after a short easy run?

If you are running a short distance/duration we’d suggest following your normal meal pattern following plate balance. You don’t need to eat immediately after your run.

 If you were run a longer distance over 90 minutes, we’d suggest having a Quick Release CHO snack within 30 minutes of completing your run and follow that up with a meal or snack within 2 hours including complex carbohydrates and protein in the ratio of 4:1. 


How do I prevent muscle soreness?

General advice for DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) to build up training gradually, do warm up and cool down exercises, keep moving and have light activity in between running sessions. Self-myofascial release techniques like foam rolling can help alleviate muscle tension and promote blood flow to aid in recovery. Nutritionally we’d advise following an anti-inflammatory food plan and to eat sufficient protein. If you don’t recover within 2-3 days, then rest and seek advice from a sports injury specialist/physiotherapist.


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 Our nutrition advice for Joanne.

Joanne is 52, she has a partner and 3 teenage kids, she works full-time, and is peri menopausal. She has been doing a 5k park run every Saturday morning and has decided it’s time to train for a 10K race.

Joanne is short of time … like most women … she wants to know what to eat before and after her park run and she’ll be doing one longer run each week to build her up to 10k and that is on a weeknight after work and before dinner. She doesn’t have any particular dietary requirements other than … food has to be easy to make and be family friendly.

We talk about Joanne’s Saturday Park Run and give some advice about eating before and after Joanne’s evening run.


 Our nutrition advice for Marianne.

 Marianne is a beginner runner, is in her mid 50’s. She is a nurse and works shifts in a hospital and is a vegetarian. Marianne’s challenge is choosing and making packed meals to take to work so she can follow a healthy food plan on workdays. We share suggestions on packed meals to help Marianne hit being on a healthy food plan to support her health and running. 


Key Take Aways

1.    Eating Enough … but no more than you require for the level of activity you are doing. Having 3 meals a day and following plate balance will support you in this.

2.    Eat ¼ plate of protein at every meal. Protein is essential for muscle repair and recovery.

3.    Choosing complex carbohydrates and eating ¼ plate portion size at each meal-time will help fuel easy short distance running. Focus on whole grains, starchy vegetables and fruit.

4.    Eat a rainbow of vegetables – this will support your immune system, digestive system and provide vitamins and minerals required for energy production.

5.    Hydration is important – stay hydrated throughout the day and practice siping water during your training runs.

6.    Eat meals at regular intervals – ideally 4-5 hours apart. Time an easy to digest pre run meal 1-2 hours before your training run.


Download our FREE E book TOP Running Snacks and Nutrient Timing to Fuel Peak Performance


Related Topics:

Nutrition Basics for ALL Runners

Athletes Plates in Practice

Nutrition to Solve DOMS


The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.

A BIG thank you to our Show Sponsor AMAZING JANE ACTIVE WEAR. Please use discount code RHH10 for 10% off ALL purchases at

​Also, when you're ready, here are FOUR ways that we can help you:

1) Join Easy Nutrition For Healthy Runners HUB. Please join our FREE private facebook group for education, tips, inspiration with like- minded female runners.

2) Get our Easy Nutrition For Healthy Runners Online Programme. As a THANK YOU, please use COUPON CODE POD to get 33% discount off the full price which brings the price to £199. 

3)Find out if you are the right fit for our Healthy Woman Healthy Runner Programme. Please book a free Discovery Call.

4) If you love our FREE stuff but need more help and would like to find out which of our services would be best for you. We’d love to have a short informal (no obligation) chat to see how we can help you. Book a free call here.

We love to hear from our listeners - what are your nutrition and running goals, challenges and successes, please drop us a line at


Best Wishes and Happy Running!

Karen and Aileen 

This podcast uses the following third-party services for analysis:

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