As a track and field runner, it's essential that you manage your diet. A sound strategy will give you the energy and nutrients you need to maximize your speed and endurance during a race.

Managing your diet can get complicated; however, the best diet for track and field runners is quite simple. Whether you're a sprinter or a distance runner, your diet should consist of a balance or carbohydrates for fuel, protein for muscle repair and some fats for sustained energy and other vital bodily functions.

To optimize your performance, focus on eating clean carb sources. If it can't be grown or picked, chances are you should stay away from it.


Start each morning with a nutritious breakfast to kickstart your metabolism and lay the foundation of energy you'll need for the day.

Two or three eggs with one or two pieces of toast and orange juice
Oatmeal with nuts and berries


Aim to get a source of protein paired with green leafy vegetables.

Chicken breast filet on top of salad piled high with carrots, peppers and cucumbers
Sandwich made with whole-wheat bread, turkey, lettuce and tomato with a side salad

Before Training or Races

For your body to perform at its best, it needs plenty of fuel. However, make sure to keep all snacks light.

One to two pieces of fruit
Granola bar

After Training or Races

In order to recover, your body needs protein and more carbs.

Lean cut of meat with a starch like potatoes
Serving of pasta with marinara sauce and a protein source such as fava beans

Before Bed

Take in extra protein to help your muscles recover while you sleep and have you feeling fresh the next morning.

A 20- to 40-gram protein shake
A quarter cup of almonds

The foods you eat can vary. Just remember: the best diet for track and field runners is a simple one. Keep the carbs clean, and balance them out with protein.

Written By:
Sean Donnelly - Johnson Performance Center at SPIRE Institute (Geneva, Ohio). He studies exercise science at the University of Mount Union, where he has also earned All-American honors in the shot put and been nationally ranked in the hammer throw. 

​​​​​Coaches Corner - Preseason Tips

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