It's not an easy feat to run 13.1 miles, nor is it easy to train to run those miles. All that running — upward of 20 to 30 miles a week —means that your body needs consistent, nutritious fuel on a daily basis.
If you don't pay attention to your meal plan while training for a half-marathon, a couple things can happen. You could bonk out during the middle of a long run because you've completely run out of energy in your muscles. You could experience what's affectionately known as "runner's trots" and not be able to finish the run because you desperately need a restroom.
However, if you stick to a solid meal plan, you'll find training for your half-marathon much easier to accomplish.
Read More: Example of a Runner's Diet
If you go for your run early in the day, make breakfast a light meal so your stomach doesn't get upset during your run. Stick to a piece or two of whole-grain toast topped with peanut butter or an egg, so you have some complex carbs as well as a source of protein. You might also consider a fruit and vegetable smoothie, made with a banana, spinach, coconut water and a little protein powder.
If you find a meal combination that works well for you, stick with it — particularly when you get close to the half-marathon. The night before or the morning of the race is not a time to explore new food combinations.
If you don't plan to run until later in the day, then your breakfast can be much more substantial. Competitor.com suggests two or three scrambled eggs cooked in coconut oil for a solid combination of healthy protein and fat. Add a cup of coffee, as the caffeine can boost your athletic performance.
Lunch and Dinner
Again, you will want to adjust the size of your meals depending on when you're doing your training run. If you're an afternoon or evening runner, lighten up your meals, eating the pre-run meal about an hour or two before your workout. A light, healthy lunch before a run might consist of a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread with an apple and baby carrots. At dinner, 4 ounces of chicken breast, brown rice and sautéed vegetables can give you the energy you need without upsetting your stomach.
If you don't plan to run soon after your meal, you can add in some fats to improve satiety. Add avocado to your sandwich or pair it with Greek yogurt at lunch. At dinnertime, add some cheese to your vegetables or exchange that chicken for a fatty fish such as salmon.
When you finish a half-marathon training run, your body will need refueling within 30 minutes. If it's a lighter day — say, 6 miles — a healthy snack such as an apple with peanut butter will suffice. For long runs of 10-plus miles, follow it up with a mini-meal that contains all three macronutrients. You might chow down on a tuna sandwich or a hearty green smoothie. If you're close to a regular meal time, you can use that to refuel.
Read More: Running 101: What to Eat Before a Race