The Importance of Nutrition and Rest for Runners

“You know you’re addicted to running when your least favorite workout of the week says ‘rest’!”

I am at the tail end of training for the Memphis Full Marathon.  Last weekend I was set to do 18 miles.  You would think that being a seasoned runner, I wouldn’t make dumb mistakes.  Ha!  Think again.  I ended up having one of my worst (if not the worst) training runs ever.  That week had been very busy so I hadn’t been to the grocery store. Yes it was one of those weeks where we frequented Wendy’s and Subway after a zillion practices with my kids. (No judging please…it was just one of those insanely busy weeks.) I realized the day before that we were out of peanut butter.  Which if you know me at all, you know is rare.  I love peanut butter and often have three kinds in my pantry so this was a rarity. Well I meant to grab some on Friday because peanut butter is a staple for me before a long run and every marathon I have ever ran.  It is packed with calories and provides both protein and carbs, yet it doesn’t sit heavy in your stomach.  The calories last a while.  I woke up at 4:30 Saturday and realized there was none so I ate a 90 calorie granola bar and off I went.

Peanut Butter a Runners FriendTen miles in I knew I was in trouble.  I had a stomach ache and my energy was diminishing.  I tried to drink water and sip Gatorade but I was past the point of fixing the problem.  I was literally out of gas.  I did push through but it was my slowest pace in a long while and it was not enjoyable at all.  I have never been so empty on a run and it took the whole day for me to feel normal again.  It was just a reminder to me that no one wakes up with enough energy to run or workout for an endless amount of time. Water is great for hydration but it doesn’t give you the energy you need to exercise.  So it was a reminder for me that yes I have done this training time and time again but I am not superhuman.   Without the proper nutrition for energy, you physically cannot sustain that long of a run.  Nutrition is key.Be Smart Eat Smart

Another thing I have learned over time that is important is rest.  I have been waking up to run or go to the gym for an average of 6 days a week for the last 15 or so years.  I can’t say enough how much it helps my mood and my energy level.  The only problem with that is when I don’t get up to exercise, I usually feel guilty and lethargic.  So I always have to remind myself that there are real benefits to taking a day off from exercise.  Here are the biggest reasons that I have learned to be okay with taking a rest day.

  1. Your muscles need time to grow, heal, and repair.
  2. Never taking a day off can lead to overtraining and mental burnout.
  3. While a good amount of exercise can help you sleep at night, never resting can actually cause sleep issues.
  4. Rest is important in injury prevention.


Both of these things, nutrition and rest seem like things that someone who has ran for years should have down to a science.  The truth is though that is not always the case.  We all need reminders and we need to change things as necessary depending on how we feel.  Eat hard, run hard, rest hard.  You have to do all three in order to make it work!

1 thought on “The Importance of Nutrition and Rest for Runners”

  1. Almond butter is a great substitute if you cannot have peanut butter, but it is more expensive. Thanks Stephanie, good blog

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *