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Fuelling Your Ultra Running Journey: A Nutrition Guide

Fuelling Your Ultra Running Journey: A Nutrition Guide

Ultra running is a sport that pushes the limits of human endurance and requires carefully planned nutrition to ensure peak performance and sustained energy levels. Whether you're a seasoned ultra runner or just starting out, understanding how to fuel your body properly during training and on race day is essential. We will delve into the key principles of nutrition for ultra running and provide practical tips to help you achieve your best performance.

Prioritize Balance

A well-rounded, balanced diet is the foundation of any successful ultra running journey. Focus on consuming a variety of whole foods that provide a range of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) as well as micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, and hydration into your daily meals.

Carbohydrates: The Energy Powerhouse

Carbohydrates are your body's primary source of fuel during endurance activities. Aim to consume complex carbohydrates like whole grains, sweet potatoes, and legumes, which release energy steadily and sustainably. Before a long run or race, increase your carbohydrate intake in the days leading up to it to maximize glycogen stores. During ultra events, consume easily digestible carbohydrates such as energy gels, chews, and drinks to replenish energy levels.

Protein for Recovery and Repair

Ultra running places significant stress on your muscles. Protein plays a crucial role in repairing and rebuilding muscle tissue. Include lean protein sources like chicken, fish, beans, and tofu in your meals to aid in muscle recovery. Aim for a balanced intake of protein throughout the day, rather than relying solely on post-workout protein shakes.

Healthy Fats for Sustained Energy

Incorporating healthy fats into your diet can provide sustained energy during long endurance runs. Sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which help support cardiovascular health and reduce inflammation. They also aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. However, you may want to be mindful of portion sizes as fats are calorie dense.

Hydration: Key to Performance

Proper hydration is critical for ultra runners to maintain performance and prevent dehydration. Develop a hydration plan tailored to your body's needs. During training and races, consume fluids regularly, including water, electrolyte-rich drinks, and even coconut water.

Electrolyte Balance

Sweating while running can lead to the loss of vital electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. These minerals play a key role in maintaining proper muscle and nerve function. Consider supplementing with electrolyte tablets or consuming electrolyte-rich foods before and after running, like bananas, oranges, and leafy greens to maintain electrolyte balance.

Train with Nutrition

Practice your nutrition strategy during long training runs to determine what works best for you. Experiment with different food and hydration options to find the right balance but avoid trying anything new on race day!


Nutrition plays a significant role in your success. Prioritize a balanced diet, focusing on complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy fats, and proper hydration. Tailor your nutrition strategy through trial and error during training to find what works best for you. Remember, every runner is unique, so it's essential to listen to your body and adjust accordingly. With proper nutrition, you'll be well-equipped to conquer the challenges of ultra running and achieve your running goals. Happy running!

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