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How to Fuel for Your Runs

Fueling for your runs is a highly individual process, with different strategies working for different runners. While there is no universal formula, there are common practices that can help improve your performance. Many runners overlook their nutrition, but those who focus on it often see significant improvements.

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist. This article is based on my experiences and discussions with other runners over time. Today, we will focus on fueling for everyday runs, leaving pre-race and race fueling for a future article.

Factors Affecting Fueling

Fueling depends on when you run and the type of run you're doing. A 32-kilometer workout with marathon-pace intervals in the morning requires different fueling than a 20-minute easy run in the afternoon.

Morning Runs

If you run early in the morning, your energy levels and glycogen stores are typically high, assuming you have a balanced diet. For runs shorter than 45 minutes, you generally have enough stored glycogen to complete your run without additional fuel. This applies even to faster runs like tempo runs or intervals.

For longer or more intense runs, pre-run fueling is essential. I find that two bagels or toast with honey and a protein spread work well. You might also try sugar-rich fruit. Eat 2–3 hours before your run to allow time for digestion.

After your run, it's crucial to refuel to aid recovery. Eating within 30 minutes post-run helps your body absorb nutrients and speeds up recovery. Focus on proteins to rebuild muscles and include sugars to replenish glycogen stores.

Afternoon Runs

For afternoon runs, plan your meals based on your run time. I typically run between 5 and 7 p.m. Start with a light breakfast to top up glycogen stores, such as fruit or oatmeal. For lunch, eat moderately with a balance of carbohydrates and proteins—rice or pasta with chicken or fish and vegetables works well. A small snack 2–3 hours before your run can help maintain energy levels.

Post-run nutrition for afternoon runs mirrors that of morning runs. Have something ready beforehand and eat your last meal at least three hours before bedtime to ensure proper digestion and recovery.

During Runs

For runs shorter than 45 to 60 minutes, you generally don't need to refuel during the run. For longer runs, like a 10-15 kilometer tempo run or two-hour long run, gels are a convenient option. They come in various carbohydrate levels and consistencies, so experiment to find what works best for you.

There are numerous fueling strategies, and it's essential to figure out what suits your body. Each runner's body reacts differently to the nutrition consumed during runs and the amount of carbohydrates, usually in the form of sugar, that can be processed.


In conclusion, fueling is highly individual. While general guidelines exist, experimentation is key to discovering the best fueling strategy for you.