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A Healthy Balanced Diet for a Track Runner

By Ryan Biddulph

Track runners require a diet that is tailored to their specific caloric needs. Sprinters engage in short interval, high intensity exercise, which burns more calories in a shorter time. Distance runners focus on long interval, lower intensity cardiovascular activity, which requires a steady flow of calories.

Sprinter Diet

In a article, Nancy Clark, RD, MS, notes that runners need quality foods as a spark plug for energy. A sprinter should consume a high protein, moderate carbohydrate diet. Good protein sources are chicken, turkey and salmon. Carbohydrate sources are oatmeal, whole grains and sweet potatoes.

Distance Runner Diet

A distance runner’s diet should focus on complex carbohydrate sources and fats for a slower burning fuel source. Good carbohydrate sources are whole wheat spaghetti and bananas. According to, lipids, or fats, are an ideal fuel source for later stages in long distance running events after glycogen stores have been depleted. Consume fats such as olive oil and flax seed.

Meal Timing

Give yourself adequate time to digest a pre-workout meal. Consume meals at least 60 to 90 minutes before running.


Remain hydrated by drinking at least nine to 12 cups of water a day. Pre-hydrate by drinking water before your workout, which prevents cramping during physical activity.

Pre Workout Meal

Eat lightly before running to prevent bloating and to optimize your workout. Consume a light carbohydrate, moderate protein snack to provide a steady flow of nutrients for your exercise session.

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