Meal plans for runners

Whether you're taking on a 10k or marathon this year, get your training diet spot on with our nutrition plans that you can tweak and build on to help you reach your goals…

A woman eating a healthy meal after a run

Running a marathon is a great time to improve your overall nutrition to support your training and race performance. By applying some performance nutrition principles to your daily meals, you can fuel your body correctly in order to help you get fitter, and perhaps, also reduce your body fat along the way.

Eating properly around your training can be daunting, so we’ve included some tips and meal plans below for guidance. Like training, good nutrition is also about building confidence – both in preparing different meals each week and seeing how food can affect your training. 

Our recipes provide a ‘food-first’ approach to meet your daily nutrient targets. Sports nutrition products (such as drinks or gels) can help support your preparations towards the race itself. 

Many of these recipes are nutrient-dense (meaning they provide a range of nutrients, including important vitamins and minerals) to keep the body healthy as your training increases. 

There are several key elements of performance nutrition that are important to consider to maximise your performance. The main focus with endurance training is to match your daily fuel intake to the volume of training – this is known as 'periodised' nutrition.

This means that what you eat should be different depending on your training demands for that particular day – there will be some trial and error to learn what feels right for you. 

Getting your fuelling right on different days means that you can have sufficient energy during training, whilst also reducing body fat (if that is your goal) over the course of your training programme.

Plan 1: What should I eat on rest and easy training days?

Two women running outdoors
Easier days require less carbohydrates to fuel your training. Our rest & easy training day meal options can help you prioritise protein, fats, and mixed vegetables over carbs on easier days, plus how to incorporate 'fasted training' into your routine.

Find out what to eat on rest & easy training days.

Plan 2: What should I eat on normal (moderate intensity) training days?

A runner stretching her hamstrings

Carbohydrate is the body’s primary fuel for endurance training, so as training volume increases you need more to keep your stores topped up. Our recipe suggestions for normal (moderate intensity) training will help you to get all the nutrition you need on these days.

Find out what to eat on normal (moderate intensity) training days.

Plan 3: What should I eat on heavy (high intensity) training days?

A woman running on a track outdoors
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 high-intensity training days recipe suggestions.

Find out what to eat on heavy (high intensity) training days.

How to use the nutrition plans

There are lots of free training plans for different abilities and distances available online from trusted sources such as Runner's World and The Virgin London Marathon.

To give you an example, we've included a beginner's week training plan from The Virgin London Marathon, from week 11 of your training. 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

 MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
TrainingRest10 min easy run, 5 x (5 min interval run, 2.5 min easy run), 10 min easy runRest40 min easy runCore & stretchingRestRun a half marathon
Meal plan1211 or 2112 or 3

More training & nutrition tips for runners


This article was last reviewed on 22 January 2018 by sports nutritionist James Collins.

James Collins is head of nutrition at Arsenal Football Club. He’s worked with some of the world’s best athletes over the last decade within Olympic and professional sport. His Performance Nutrition principles are now helping everyone to look, feel and perform better each day. Find out more at: www.jamescollinsnutrition.com.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact  your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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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sarahfairlamb's picture
sarahfairlamb
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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