Nutrition for distance events

J Sports Sci. 2007:25 Suppl 1:S29-38. doi: 10.1080/02640410701607239.


The goal of training is to prepare the distance athlete to perform at his or her best during major competitions. Whatever the event, nutrition plays a major role in the achievement of various factors that will see a runner or walker take the starting line in the best possible form. Everyday eating patterns must supply fuel and nutrients needed to optimize their performance during training sessions and to recover quickly afterwards. Carbohydrate and fluid intake before, during, and after a workout may help to reduce fatigue and enhance performance. Recovery eating should also consider issues for adaptation and the immune system that may involve intakes of protein and some micronutrients. Race preparation strategies should include preparation of adequate fuel stores, including carbohydrate loading for prolonged events such as the marathon or 50-km walk. Fluid and carbohydrate intake during races lasting an hour or more should also be considered. Sports foods and supplements of value to distance athletes include sports drinks and liquid meal supplements to allow nutrition goals to be achieved when normal foods are not practical. While caffeine is an ergogenic aid of possible value to distance athletes, most other supplements are of minimal benefit.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Guideline
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance
  • Caffeine / administration & dosage
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iron
  • Male
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Running / physiology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Caffeine
  • Iron