Fuelling your half-marathon training

Make sure you fuel your training runs more effectively with this advice from elite runner and coach Shaun Dixon.

When it comes to running a race, your training is obviously the most important element behind how well you do. But nutrition is the often over-looked element of good race preparation. Think of your body like a Formula 1 car: there’s only so far or so fast it can go when it’s loaded up with the wrong type of fuel.

Therefore, nutrition should be a key part of your training plan throughout your preparation, and not something you only think about on race day.

When training for a half-marathon to run better you want your body to become a lean, mean, fat-burning machine. It can be very useful during training runs to not use energy gels or drinks, so your body becomes better and more adept at tapping into fat cells to free up energy that can be used to power your running. 

Pre-run fuelling

The best way to do this is to run all steady-paced or easy runs under 90 minutes in length on an empty stomach, so without eating in the hours before you set out. This is much easier to do when doing your training runs first thing, because you wake up in a fasted state from sleeping. This approach is very beneficial, but it makes re-fuelling immediately after your run even more important, because the food you consume will be used to aid muscle repair and recovery. If you do run fasted, then aim to eat a proper meal, containing carbs and a good source of protein, as soon as possible afterwards.

Eat light, run fast

To be really efficient at burning fuel at your faster race pace, it can be a good idea to do your slightly longer or faster training runs after a small breakfast or lunch, so you are not fasted, but don’t have much energy available. Being slightly under-fuelled for this type of run in training should improve fat burning capacity at race pace.

Be clever with carbs

For any training run of more than 90 minutes, to get the most from the session you should take on some carbs in the hour or two before starting. I prefer homemade granola or porridge, or some yogurt with nuts and raisins, perhaps an hour before the session to give me the energy I need to train better.

Follow Shaun on Twitter @LetsGetRunning or visit letsgetrunning.co.uk 

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