Meal plans for runners

If you’re taking on a challenge this year, be it a 5k or a marathon, getting your training diet spot on will help you go that extra mile. Sports nutritionist James Collins works with elite athletes from Team GB and Arsenal football team to hone their diets for sporting excellence. Here he shares an example training plan, which you can tweak and build on to help you reach your goals…

Running - training meal plans

There are several key elements of nutrition it’s important to consider to maximise performance. For endurance training, your calorie intake should reflect the total volume of training, which is known as ‘periodising’ the training diet. Your plan should typically be divided into three, depending on the volume of training on that day.


What to eat on rest & easy training days1. What to eat on rest & easy training days
Find out what your balance of protein and carbs should be on rest and low-intensity training days and recipes to help you on your way...
What to eat on rest & easy training days



What to eat on normal training days2. What to eat on normal (moderate-intensity) training days
A moderate increase of macronutrients on these days will help boost energy and will help muscles recover. Our recipes suggestions will help you to get all the nutrition you need on these days...
What to eat on normal training days


What to eat on heavy training days3. What to eat on heavy training (high-intensity) training days
On heavy training days you'll need to pay close attention to hydration levels and up your carbohydrate intake. Make sure you're eating the right kind of carbs with our recipe suggestions...
What to eat on heavy training days



How to use the nutrition plans

Training plans

There are lots of free training plans for different abilities and distances available online from trusted sources such as BupaRunner's World and The Virgin London Marathon. To give you an example, a typical week’s training for a half marathon will resemble the following towards the end of your training schedule. We’ve marked which diet plan you should be following that day in relation to the volume of training you’re undertaking.


Example training plan
 Monday Tuesday WednesdayThursday Friday SaturdaySunday
Training:Rest30 minsRest1hr 30min30minsRest2hrs
Diet:Plan 1Plan 1Plan 1Plan 2Plan 1Plan 1Plan 3


More training & nutrition tips for runners

  • Now you've perfected your training nutrition, make sure you eat right in race week with our marathon meal plans and top race day foods.
  • Get to grips with eating before, during and after running with our guides.
  • Our marathon nutrition hub will teach you how to hydrate properly, carb-load and even how Mo Farah fuels for training.  

    James Collins is a leading sport & exercise nutritionist. Currently head nutritionist for Arsenal Football Club, James was lead nutritionist for the England football team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He also advised Team GB teams and individuals for the London 2012 Olympic Games, and now towards Rio 2016. James sees clients at his Harley Street clinic, The Centre for Health and Human Performance in London. For more information, visit:

Are you training for a race this year? What have you found most challenging and do you have any top tips to share with other runners? We'd love to hear from you below...

Comments, questions and tips

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Cherry Smith
15th Aug, 2014
Great post!
sarahfairlamb's picture
26th Mar, 2014
Wanted to share this article, but the links are either entitled 'not allowed' or just a generic link to BBC Good Food. Shame :(
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