runners eating
A Nutrition Guide to Running Written by: VIDA Fitness

By: Jerrick Knippel, RD

Proper nutrition is especially important to enhance your performance for any endurance event. Creating a fueling plan for what to eat before, during, and after the race can create a much better experience. Whether you’re training for the VIDA Thrive 5K or a routine run, fuel yourself for success with these tips!


Having a carbohydrate-rich meal before your run will provide your body with a boost of energy for a strong start to the race.

  • Eat a familiar balanced meal about 2+ hours before your run – aim for about 1/3 of the plate to be carbohydrates.
    • Ex: 2 slices toast + avocado + eggs + fruit
  • If a meal isn’t realistic, get at least 30g carbohydrates with 5-10g protein about 30+ minutes before your run.
    • Ex: apple + string cheese, banana + handful of nuts
  • Hydrate: Hydration helps reduce the risk of developing muscle cramps.
    • Try drinking 24 oz of water an hour or so before your run


Proper hydration is the most impactful to focus on during the run for shorter races. Adequate fluids and electrolytes, mainly sodium, will prevent the onset of muscle cramps and injury.

    • Drink 24oz per hour of exercise, or take sips of water at every hydration station.
    • Zero-sugar sports beverages will provide fluids AND electrolytes.
    • Hydration supplements like LiquidIV, DripDrop, or Gatorade Zero are all great options!

Research also suggests that mid-run fueling is warranted after 1 hour of exercise or is best suited for longer races.


Recovery nutrition helps to take care of your body and allows you to return to your best self to crush the rest of your day. A meal high in protein, rich in carbohydrates, with some form of color within one hour after the race, will give your body the nutrients it needs.

  • Lean protein:
    • After exercise, protein helps repair muscle tissue to keep you strong
    • Nutrient needs are individualized but aim for at least 20g of protein
    • Fish, turkey, chicken, eggs, and products like tofu
  • Carbohydrates:
    • Carbohydrates replenish energy stores after exercise in order to give you fuel for the rest of your day.
    • Nutrient needs are individualized but aim for ¼ – 1/3 of your plates to be carbohydrates.
    • Ex: quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat breads/buns, whole wheat pasta
  • Produce:
    • Fruits and veggies provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help reduce inflammation and muscle soreness.
    • The more color you have on your plate and during the week, the better!
    • Challenge: Try including at least two colors in your meal.
  • Hydration:
    • It’s important to replace the sweat that was lost during exercise to remain your best self.
    • Aim for 24oz of water for every hour of exercise
      • Fruits and liquid foods aid in hydration, too!
    • Salty snacks can help replenish sodium levels.
      • Ex: salted watermelon, pretzels w/ cheese and apples