New runner - Need help on diet

I wonder if anyone can help me - I am a first time runner training for the Reading Half Marathon. I want to know the best type of diet I can follow to enable me to get the best out of myself - I also want to lose weight! I sometimes go out for a run (well jog in my case at the mo!)and ache pretty much straight away and other times I can go for miles before getting tired, I stretch for approx 15 mins before each run - I guess my diet has a lot to do with it. Has anyone got any great tips that can help me out?


  • Are you following a training schedule? There is a great deal of debate about the benefit of stretching cold muscles, personally I usually stretch only after running, unless I am doing speedwork and then I stretch after warming up.

    With regard to dieting, you have to eat properly in order to run well.

    Good luck with you up coming Half Marathon.
  • Everyone has their good and bad days. Sometimes I can go for about 45 minutes (a minor miracle, believe me) but other days I can barely do ten. I'm sure it's the same when you get achey - sometimes there's no apparent reason to it.

    Try writing down EVERYTHING you do in a day, not just your running. Also note down everything you've had to eat. When you have a good day running, look at what else you done and eaten, and do the same for bad days. You'll soon work out what's helpful and what's a hindrance. We could all give you tips, but we don't all work the same way!
  • Thanks for your messages. I will do what you suggest and write everything down - maybe then I can pinpoint what I'm doing wrong (and right)! I am following a training schedule at the moment for the 1/2 marathon and want to continue with running after it, so this hopefully should give me a helping hand!
  • Hi Clare,
    You are doing right by having a structured programme to follow. Dont forget to fuel the system to keep you going. I know this is going to sound biased and Ems is right, our systems work differently but I swear by malt loaf! Before a run, during (the new Go bars are handy for this and taste better than energy gels) and certainly after the run. Best of luck it sounds like you are in the right direction.
    Malt Loaf!
    .....I run therefefore I eat malt loaf......
  • Mmm yes, malt loaf has lots of energy and would probably be very good for you if it wasn't EVIL!

    Some rugby player friends swear by Jaffa cakes - they're much nicer. Yum!
  • Malt loaf rocks. Jaffa cakes ARE rocks. But we've had that debate on these Forums many times before...

    Clare, the training you do is far more important than your diet, provided you eat enough and have a good variety of foods including plenty of starchy carbohydrates, lean meat (or meat substitutes), fruit and vegetables, and a bit of dairy. If you're training for a half-marathon, you should be running over 20 miles a week - easily enough to be able to afford a few indulgences (mine is chocolate).

    Good luck! Might see you at Reading.
  • And remember to eat enough (of the right stuff of course). When I first started running I simply didn't eat to compensate the energy output and felt fatigued when out running. I kept a food diary for a week and realised I shold have been taking in about about 300-500 calories more a day than I was. Whilst you say you would like to lose weight, try not to think about that aspect as much otherwise you'll be frustrated if one week you weigh yourself and you haven't lost anything (Loose/tight clothes are a better indicator or loss anyway as weight can fluctuate quite a lot in us girlies)
  • That's right, JP. A girl can't run on vapour. It may take some time for weight loss to start - those long runs, where you have to switch to using fat as fuel, are the key (although total mileage, and speed sessions, help too), and the ability to reach that distance and to switch smoothly to fat-burning instead of conking out when the glycogen starts to run low doesn't come instantly.
  • Thankyou Velo, and I agree that you shouldn't fall into the trap of thinking everyihtng wil fall into place by next Wednesday and youll be giving Eva Herzagova a run for her money (pun unintended). I have introduced speed work a lot more into my sessions (a lot in the gym with the dodgy weather we enjoy here) since the new year, and it got off the stubborn couple of pounds I put on over the Christmas splurge.
  • I don't think you need to change your diet - a healthy diet is a healthy diet whether you run or not. If you get up to 30-40 miles a week plus then you can start looking at it more seriously.

    I'm going to disagree a little bit with some previous advice and say unless you are going out for a long run - at least an hour - then you don't need to eat anything to give you energy. If you eat more because you are running you wont lose weight - keeping your eating the same but exercising more is the key. Jaffa cakes are a good source of available energy but not exactly healthy eating.

    The exception to that would be if you are running first thing in the morning then jaffa cakes, malt loaf etc come in handy to get something inside you thirty minutes before you go out. If you are just going out for maybe 45 minutes before work or something I find a cup of coffee works fine. Best not to run straight after a meal.

    I think that for the race itself (or for very long runs of maybe 90 minutes plus) my advice is inadequate because you may need to look more seriously at hydration and eating enough carbs in the 48 (or at least the 24) hours before.

    Also I'd agree that stretching after your run is probably in line with current advice - if you do your first mile slow as a warm up instead that should suffice.
  • Oh and congratulations on entering a half mara. It was about this time last year I decided to enter the Robin Hood with 3 friends - two never did it but one other and myself have kept it going and got quite keen - we both ran previously but only up to about 6k a couple of times a week. The woman I ran it with surprised herself by coming in mid 1.30s in the end.
  • It's when people who don't do any significant exercise but feel tired all the time start ploughing into Lucozade Sport and "power bars" to give them "energy" that I realise just how sneakily the advertising for these products has expanded the target consumers.

    The more I train, the longer I can keep moving without adding any immediately-available carbohydrate to what I've got stored. I notice that after a month or two without running I start to feel hypoglycaemic after two or three miles of walk/run.
  • That is, alas, "expanded" in both the demographic sense and the abdominal girth sense.
  • Hi All, Thanks for all your messages they have definately given me "food for thought"!! I have been doing the training required and am doing in the region of 20-25 miles per week in prep for the HM. Hope to see some of you there! (I'll be the one near the back going at a snails pace!! - but I will be glad I've done it, and will improve with time!!) Thanks again!! Happy running!
  • i am looking for a sample diet sheet for 1 week.i need to lose weight while i run and would be grateful for any help.i can follow the 1 week plan and work out for myself how to daily diet at the moment is this

    breakfast-- porridge w/banana
    lunch-- baked potato w/filling
    tea-- steak salad

    treats-- natural yoghurt/fruit
  • i am running 4 times a week for 30-40 mins each run
  • ok mr mcquire that actually doesn't sound like your enough to me! but then again i am not a nutrition expert. but i eat more than that most days!! someone who knows more than me will probably be along soon to help you out
  • Alan - do you eat the same thing EVERY day?

    Are you bored with it yet? I could never ever do that.

    I've followed a Scottish Slimmers Weight Management Plan for more than 4 years now and have had an amazing amount of success.

    Breakfast for me is one of four different cereals with fruit (banana one morning, diced apple another, raisins another). Obviously with skimmed milk.

    Mid morning snack is normally more fruit (apples or plums).

    Lunch - Jacket Potato some days, wraps with salad and some wafer thin ham, etc.

    Again, mid afternoon snack of either fruit or possible horror of horrors - a Snak A Jack or similar :)

    Tea (normally quite late evening - about 8:00pm) - Chicken / Turkey / Pork / Beef with loads of veg (fresh or frozen), couple of new potatoes.

    Followed by yoghurt.

    I used to plan, plan, plan all the time but you get to a point where things start to come naturally.

    Others have already said though, get your body fit, and the diet will follow naturally. Your body does tend to tell your brain what sort of food it requires - sweet or savoury, etc.
  • Also - just a thought as well, a lot of sensible eating isn't necessarily about what you're eating but how you prepare it.

    Not deep frying but grilling, etc.

    If your cooking mince, dry fry it and pour away the fat. You'll be amazed at how much fat comes from 450g of mince.

    Jeez, the list is endless.
  • Hi Paula,

    First thing I would say is if you new to running the sort of distances your doing are way to high, the fact that you say the running is killing you seems to reinforce this.

    More infomation would help in making an informed comment like how often you run, what you currently eat, how much weight you wanted to lose, how far you run etc.

    Make sure you are having rest days as well.

    Bert Brown Bear

    P.S. easy on the CAPS :-)
  • Hi everyone,

    I started exercising a year ago when I agreed to do a long charity bike ride (85m). I'd become a lardy dad - didn't really eat that much but sedentary lifestyle generally. I was shocked at how unfit I was when I started cycling but I have kept at it, did the ride easily and then started running with the aim of doing the GNR this year and then the FLM? Have lost 2 stones and feel great but my weight has been stable for 8 months despite exercise++.

    I found a website called when I started exercising and this has a calorie/diet calculator and I found this a great motivation. Unfortunately it does cost approx £9/month but well worth it I think as a kick-start. As a general rule if you eat 500kcal/day less than you burn you'll lose 1lb/week and 2lb/week if you eat 1000kcal/day less. Don't try to have a greater deficit than this.
  • Hi all. I got some advice a few years ago that has helped me enormously in this regard. A doctor friend told me that it's far better to be fat but fit than thin and unfit. (There was an article not long ago in one of the Sunday supplements about the difficulty of using measures like BMI to assess health - Jonny Wilkinson is defined as overweight by this measure, while Martin Johnson is officially obese! I'm not going to tell him...)

    Seriously, I know plenty of people locked into a tyrranical diet programme, who still feel hungry and lousy the whole time, can't shift the weight, and hate themselves as a result. I was trying to shift some pounds, but diets made me miserable, so I started running instead. I'm still over 17 stone, but I can run a 10k in under 55 minutes, and will get under 50 minutes next year. I find the weight doesn't matter if you're feeling fit, and the mood boost you get from a long run followed by a pint of Guinness and a bacon sandwich far exceeds the potential benefits of a bowl of lettuce leaves!

  • Here here Fruit bat!

    FP x
  • thanks all for the helpfull comment what a great forum this is ,
    very helpfull comments from all
  • Dear All

    I am a new runner (2 weeks) and I am following a Schedule for a 10k in November (Abbey Dash, Leeds). Does any body know of any running clubs i can join in the next four weeks before the horrible dark winter nights draw in.
    I live in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
  • Fruitbat - Agree completely

    What no-one seems to talk about or remember is that there are generally accepted to be 3 different body types and try as you might - if you are one you can'improve' your body but you will not change its 'type'.

    Off memory they are :-
    mesamorph, ectomorph and some other kind of morph!

    Basically (not in the above order)
    - very thin
    - very round
    - a muscled athletic build

    I think these descriptions are held to be the extremes but the principles are there and i am sure you can picture people you know who would fit each 'type'.

    Paula - Slow down, take it easy to start with - you may have a history of endurance sports may mean you can run before you can walk (pun intended!) but you are using those (very fit) muscles in very differnet ways - not least becuase of the pounding weight they will need to adapt to take.
  • Hi Erica, Do you mean the Leeds Abbey Dash this November? image
  • 3 years old....
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