Event-Specific Track & Field Nutrition

If you're a Track and Field athlete, check out this comprehensive post from STACK expert Scott Cappos to find nutrition advice for your event.

Track Runner Rehydrating

Track & Field includes several events, and so the nutritional needs of T&F athletes vary. But regardless of your event, the benefits of feeding your body well are numerous. Good nutrition will optimize your training program; promote consistency in performance; enhance recovery after workouts and events; maintain or gain (if desired) weight; reduce risk of injury and illness; and give you confidence to face competition.

Below, I provide basic guidelines for all track athletes, plus sample meal plans. Look for your event (endurance, sprinting, throwing) and follow your specific meal plan.

Basic Nutritional Guidelines for T&F Athletes

  • Eat small meals every two to three hours
  • Meals should include protein and complex carbohydrates
  • Stay hydrated with at least eight ounces of water per hour, depending on climate conditions (you may need more if it's hot out)
  • Eat post-workout meal within 30 minutes
  • Never skip meals

Sample Track & Field Meal Plans

Guidelines

  • Pre-workout meal = three hours before practice or competition
  • Pre-workout snack = one hour before practice or competition
  • Post-workout snack = within 30 minutes after practice or competition
  • Post-workout meal = six hours following practice or competition
  • Evening snack = Two to three hours after last meal

Endurance Events

  • Pre-workout meal: 16-20 ounces of water, lean meat on whole grain bread, fruits and nuts
  • Pre-workout snack: Five to 10 ounces of water, low-fat granola bar
  • During practice or competition: Six ounces of water per 20 minutes of activity; six ounces of sports drink per hour; energy liquid gel for sessions over two hours
  • Post-workout snack: Fruit, granola bar, chocolate milk or yogurt
  • Post-workout meal: Lean meat or grilled fish, vegetables, whole grain pasta, rice or bread
  • Evening snack: Fruit, cheese slices or chocolate milk

Endurance Nutrition Tip: Decreasing fiber and protein intake pre-workout can help reduce stomach discomfort during long training sessions. Liquid meal supplements or shakes are good alternatives.

Sprinters, Hurdlers, Jumpers

  • Pre-workout meal: 16 ounces of milk, beans and/or lean meats on whole grain bread, fruits and nuts
  • Pre-workout snack: Eight ounces of water, low-fat granola bar and fruit
  • During practice or competition: Eight ounces of water per 20 minutes of activity; eight ounces of sports drink with electrolytes per hour
  • Post-workout snack: Fruit, yogurt and granola bar; pretzels or bagel with peanut butter; or 16-ounce meal replacement bar with protein and carbohydrates
  • Post-workout meal: Lean meat or grilled fish, vegetables and whole grain pasta, rice or bread
  • Evening snack: Fruit, cheese slices or chocolate milk

Sprint, Hurdler and Jumper Nutrition Tip: As speed and power athletes, you need to consume adequate calories with a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates.

Throwers

  • Pre-workout meal: 16 ounces of chocolate milk, beans and/or lean meats on whole grain bread, fruits and nuts
  • Pre-workout snack: Eight ounces of milk or protein shake, granola bar or fruit
  • During practice or competition: Eight ounces of water per 20 minutes of activity; eight ounces of sports drink with electrolytes per hour
  • Post-workout snack: Fruit, yogurt and granola bar; pretzels or bagel with peanut butter; or 16-ounce meal replacement bar with protein and carbohydrates
  • Post-workout meal: Lean meat or grilled fish, vegetables and whole grain pasta, rice or bread
  • Evening snack: Fruit, cheese slices or chocolate milk

Throwers Nutrition Tip: Achieve weight gain by eating more breads, fruits and nuts and full-fat dairy products.

Food Groups With Sample Choices

Meat, Poultry & Fish
95 percent Lean Ground Beef, 95 percent Lean Ham, 95 percent Lean Ground Turkey, Boneless Chicken Breasts, Turkey Breasts, Lean Sliced Turkey Breast, Lean Sliced Roast Beef, Tuna in Water

Bread, Cereal, Rice, Pasta
Multi-Grain Bread, Oatmeal, Pita Bread, Spaghetti Noodles, Whole Grain Cereal, Whole Wheat Bread, Low-Fat Granola Bars, Whole Grain Bagels

Beans, Nuts
Baked Beans, Black Beans, Pinto Beans, Chopped Walnuts, Unsalted Roasted Peanuts

Dairy
Whole Eggs, Egg Whites, Egg Beaters, Skim Milk, Low-Fat Yogurt, Low-Fat String Cheese, One-Percent Cottage Cheese

Vegetables
Asparagus, Broccoli, Carrots, Celery, Green Beans, Peppers (all colors), Mushrooms, Russet Potatoes (with skin), Spinach, String Beans, Sweet Corn, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes

Fruits
Apples, Bananas, Cantaloupe, Grapefruit, Grapes, Oranges, Peaches, Pears, Pineapple, Raisins, Watermelon

Great Nutrition Reads for Track and Field Athletes

10 Rules For Sports Recovery For Athletes
Build Muscle: Three Nutrition Tips
Pre-Workout Snacks To Help You Achieve Maximum Results
Post-Workout Foods: The Secret to Getting Bigger, Stronger & Faster
How Protein & Carbs Work Together To Build Muscle

Photo:  drnicholasshannon.com


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: TRACK & FIELD | ATHLETE MEAL PLAN | TRACK