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Tips & Techniques to Get You Back to Full Strength

Fuel Your Run: Part 1- Build a Strong Foundation

Denise Smith 
March 12, 2020
Fuel Your Run: Part 1- Build a Strong Foundation

Hear from our friend, Rachael Costello, registered dietitian and nutritionist, on how food can be used to fuel your run.  She will be doing a blog series series for us to help our runners learn how timing and certain foods can help keep gas in the running tank!

Fuel Your Run: Part 1- Build a Strong Foundation

Appropriate nutrition has a direct effect on your performance as a runner.  Each runner has different needs, depending on their age, gender, size, and mileage.  However, all runners can benefit from the following recommendations directed at building a healthy body:


  1. Choose variety.  Our bodies crave variety.  This is related to the fact that different foods provide different nutrients.  By choosing foods from all five food groups ( fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and grains) and also choosing different foods within those food groups (for example within the vegetable group choosing green, orange, and yellow vegetables), we supply our bodies with a diverse set of nutrients.
  2. Choose whole foods including lots of plants.  By limiting our intake of processed foods, we fuel our bodies with food in the form it was meant to be consumed.  Plants contain phytochemicals that may help fight cancer and heart disease, in addition to fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  3. Be balanced. Overconsumption of one nutrient can be detrimental.  By balancing our macronutrients appropriately we allow each nutrient to be used as it is intended.  Normal ranges for macronutrients are Carbohydrates 45-65%, Protein 10-35%, and Fat 20-35% of our daily caloric intake.  Ranges are provided because each person has individual needs.
  4. Hydrate. You may be a pro at hydrating on race days and long runs.  But are you hydrating on rest days? Water is the best fluid in many situations. Electrolyte replacement beverages have their place, but you should understand when to use them over regular water.
  5. Be prepared. Meal planning is your friend.  Planning meals in advance is the best way to ensure you consume a varied diet.
  6. Use supplements sparingly.  Do not be swayed by fancy packing, great marketing and empty promises of improved performance. Often these supplements are expensive and unnecessary. Ideally, you will consume all your dietary needs through food.  There are situations when supplements can and should be used, but food should be the first line of defense.
  7. Listen to your body.  If you are hungry, you should eat.  In the same breath, if you are satisfied, you should stop eating.
  8. Consult a professional. If you have medical conditions or other nutrition questions, you should call on the help of a registered dietitian.  These nutrition professionals have the expertise and experience to provide personalized scientific-based nutrition therapy.


By following these guidelines, you will build a strong foundation of healthy eating habits which will give your body a head start in improved performance.  Once you have developed these habits, you can begin to focus on targeting the more specific needs your body may have in relation to your running regimen.


Stay tuned for Part 2: Fuel for Performance

-Rachael Costello MS, RDN, LDN, registered dietitian nutritionist, practices in Algonquin, IL.  For more information, visit

Denise Smith
Meet the Author
Denise Smith graduated from Marquette University in 2002 with a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy and has been a certified running technique specialist since 2014. She is a consultant for multiple local middle and high schools and instructs courses in Kinesiology at McHenry County College. Denise also travels the country as part of the Pose Method education team with a lecture series on injury prevention and treatment along with the running technique certification course.