Eat Better, Run Better

By: Jan Dowell, MS, RD, CSSD

You eat, you run. End of story?

What would happen to your running performance if your nutrition base was stronger? Your food choices may help you reach your running potential. Try these tips to go beyond calories to build a strong nutrition base:

Choose foods that are fresh (or minimal processing). This provides a natural nutrient mix that usually cannot be matched with processed foods.

Choose foods that provide some type of nutrition for the same calories. For example, 100 calories of yogurt provides protein for rebuilding muscles and calcium for strong bones. A one hundred calorie pack of cookies may provide the same carbohydrate fuel, but few other nutrients a runner needs.

Be sure to eat “real” food when you’re not out on the running trail. Gels and sports drinks are important carbohydrate fuel during training, but they don’t contribute to your nutrition base for the rest of your busy day.

What about vitamin supplements? The key is that supplements are for filling in nutrient gaps, not replacing a whole foods diet. Supplements have their purpose, but don’t depend on them to improve your running performance without a real food base.

You eat better…you run better...what a story!

Jan Dowell, MS, RD, CSSD is a Board Certified Sports Dietitian and a runner. Get more nutrition and hydration training tips from Jan at