Running is tough, and tough events demand adequate fuelling not only to power you through your training or racing, but also to maximize recovery and ensure that you optimize all of your other physiological processes. In general, the more you train, the more fuel you need!

I’m not going to delve into the relative merits, or not, of high carb vs low carb, high fat vs low fat, suffice to say that your diet must support your training and physiology! Under-fuelling isn’t always obvious at first, and in fact many under-fuelled athletes initially see a temporary bump in their performance, as there is often a corresponding drop in body weight, but it soon catches up to you.

Nagging injuries or illness are a common feature. Our immune system suffers, and frequent infections ensue. Sleep quality will suffer, mood will deteriorate or fluctuate, and ultimately performance will start to falter.

Females may experience menstrual irregularities. Some athletes experience abdominal discomfort and bloating, and these symptoms can lead them to believe they have food allergies, which is rarely the case, but may lead to an even more restrictive diet.

If you’ve ever experienced a stress fracture, this may be an indicator that your diet is not up to par. If you’re training hard and under fuelled, muscle and bone health are sacrificed, and these structures become much more likely to fail under all the stress of running. Hormonal disruption, often associated with menstrual irregularities in females, compounds the problem, causing a decrease in bone mineral density and the subsequent increase in risk for a fracture.

The best advice I can give is to eat regularly, choosing nutrient dense and minimally processed foods as much as possible. Try not to restrict any specific food groups. Eat before and after your workouts. Consume carbohydrates to match the intensity of your workout, and get some high quality protein in after hard efforts to bump start your recovery. Adequate post run carbohydrate consumption will replenish your glycogen stores for the next effort! And don’t shy away from fat, either! Normal hormonal and immune function depends on adequate fat consumption!