What To Eat To Fuel Your Run

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You run – no matter which event or the distance, every participant is simply putting one foot in front of the other. It’s easy to think that all runners need to eat and drink the same way – but this isn’t the case. There are several key differences that can make or break your big day, so we thought we’d go over some of these so that you can prepare as well as possible and enjoy your Great Run experience!

General Diet

Let’s start with something that is key for everyone. Eating the right foods will support your training and help you get fitter faster, but what are the ‘right foods’? Research has constantly shown us that natural, unprocessed foods are what we should all be basing our diet on. Additionally, eating the most colourful diet possible is another way to be healthy as the nutrients in different, natural foods show themselves in different colours. You can’t out-train a bad diet, but a good diet will boost your training!

Before the event

As your Great Run might be from 5km all the way up to a half-marathon you will have differing nutritional requirements. If you expect your run to take less than 90mins, you don’t need a huge increase of carbohydrates in the days beforehand. Longer than this however and eating a few more carbs can help to sustain your energy levels. You are generally better off with light meals and snacks that don’t leave you feeling too full in the run up to the event.

CLIF Bars are designed to meet this need and are perfect to nibble on as you make your way to the start line.

During your run

Providing you have subscribed to a balanced diet in the run up to the event you should have 75-90mins of energy stored up for your run. Again, it’s useful to think about how long your event will take to complete and your perceived level of effort. If you are exceeding the above time or running at a higher intensity than usual you might want to take on board some energy during the event.

Quick release carbs are the best way to refuel and are available in various formats: drinks, gels and CLIF Bloks.

CLIF Bloks are fruity chews designed to be eaten every 10-15mins during exercise and provide working muscles with a continuous supply of energy to help sustain your level for longer. They are available in a range of flavours including some with caffeine which is known to improve endurance sport performance.

After the race (or training for that matter!):

How well we recover is largely governed by the stuff we eat and drink, so if we want to recover well we should try to make sure that our recovery food & drink are as good as possible. In general, you will have burned through some energy in the form of carbohydrate and fat, sweated out fluid and sodium and also used some protein. Therefore, these are the things that you need to replace remembering that the longer or more intense your event (or training session) the more you will have used.


The 30 mins immediately after a race/training is known as the ‘golden window’ for recovery, it is key to replenish the body during this period but often tricky to source something appropriate. CLIF Builders bars are perfect for this occasion and deliver the optimum blend of protein and carbs to kickstart recovery until you can sit down to a decent meal later on.

In summary:

Eating and drinking well before, during and after your Great Run is really important, so make sure you take time to get it right.

Great Run have collaborated with nutrition sponsor CLIF Bar to offer all runners an exclusive ‘Training Pack’ including all the above products to support your training. Check out the offer below!

Bag yourself £15 RRP of nutrition for only £8! (Plus P&P, Limited Stock). Claim your pack here.

The ideas and suggestions written above are the opinions of Joel Enoch, an award-winning triathlon coach for the Hartree JETS, 9-time GB Age-group triathlete, 2 x Great Swim/Run winner and CLIF Bar’s paid nutritional ambassador in the UK.  This article is provided for general educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or care. The contents of this article are not intended to make health or nutrition claims about Clif Bar & Company products. Always seek the advice of a Doctor or other qualified health provider before beginning any physical fitness or health and nutrition related activity.  @ClifBar #feedyouradventure @joel_enoch (twitter) @tricoachjoel (Instagram)

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