Dietitian Recommended Meals for Distance Runners!

Happy Friday! Today I'm really excited to bring you a new post full of meal ideas perfect for distance runners from Sam Abbott, MS, RD, LDN.

Sam is a Registered Dietitian, a triathlete, a dog mom, a makeup lover and my favorite nutrition blogger. Seriously you need to follow her on Instagram @GGNutritionCo for meal ideas. Sam posts Instagram stories almost every day showing what she eats, how long it takes to make and why it's healthy! I hope you enjoy this post from her!

Sam's Favorite Meals for
Distance Runners


Hi, friends! I am so excited to be guest posting today for Kristina! Today, I wanted to talk about some of my favorite dinner ideas for distance runners.

Before I get to my favorite meals, I thought it might be good to review a few things related to nutrition and distance running. Nutrition is super important when it comes to endurance sports. Our body needs plenty of calories and carbohydrates to optimize our athletic performance, and endurance athletes also have increased protein needs. So a well-rounded diet should be your jam if you’re a distance runner.

I am generally a mindful eater, but I become a lot more aware of making appropriate nutrition choices whenever I’m training for an endurance event. This means creating meals that are full of fiber-rich carbohydrates and contain a bit more protein than I would normally consume. I also like to consume lots of fruits, vegetables, dairy and whole grains as these are all natural sources of electrolytes (and are generally just healthy!).

Here are some examples of my favorite dinners that would be great for distance runners. I’ve tried to include a variety of meals for ya!

Surf and Turf Paella


If you follow my blog then you know I love recipes from Clean Eating magazine. You actually don’t have to have a membership to access most of their recipes online.

I love this recipe for a “paella” because it uses quinoa . Pretty unique! Quinoa is a great grain because it doesn’t take that long to cook (about 10 minutes) and it’s a great source of plant-based protein and fiber. 

So this dish was a pretty labor intensive meal when I first made it, but it seems like a piece of cake now that I’ve made it several times. It’s a favorite in our house home.

A few tips to make this take less time- I use all shrimp (purchased frozen) instead of a mixture of chicken and shrimp.

I use garlic powder if I don’t feel like chopping fresh garlic. I also use whatever veggies I have on hand. If I don’t have anything fresh then I just throw in a bag of frozen vegetables at the same time I use the shrimp.



I put this in caps because I love pasta. It’s inexpensive and a regular in my meal rotations.

Here are some tips for making a nutritious pasta for distance running:

  • Noodles: look for noodles that have higher amounts of fiber and protein. You will notice that whole wheat pasta has more fiber and protein than white pasta. I have been playing around with different pastas from Trader Joe’s because they have an inexpensive variety to choose from.
  • Protein: opt for something that is 90% lean or greater if you’re adding meat. I prefer lean ground turkey. Sometimes I use chicken breast. When I am using a bean-based pasta that is much higher in protein than your traditional wheat pasta then I’m less inclined to add a meat.  I’m loving the Trader Joe’s red lentil pasta right now- 13 grams of protein in ¾ cup!

  • Vegetables: pasta is a great time to sneak in some vegetables, even if you don’t normally love them. I like tossing in a handful of spinach into my sauce while it’s cooking. It wilts easily in the sauce and I feel like you can’t even taste it. Other pasta-friendly veggies include onion, peppers, and mushrooms.



Smoothies are my go-to meal when I want “a little something”, need to replenish my carbohydrate stores and take in some protein, but I’m really not feeling like a large meal.

My smoothies usually consist of cow’s milk, greek yogurt, frozen fruit and spinach.

Ground flax and chia seeds are my typical add-ins.

I usually use cow’s milk as my liquid base just because it has more protein than other liquids.

I also like to use greek yogurt for the same reason. If you don’t like cow’s milk or yogurt then you would likely need a protein powder to meet your increased protein needs for a smoothie dinner.

I recommend trying Vega One or the new Bob’s Red Mill line.

Greek Salad with Chicken from Zoe’s

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 8.38.07 PM

I included this salad because I wanted to keep it real with you… even though I’m a dietitian, I don’t cook all of the time!

There is a Zoe’s right down the street from me, and I sometimes walk there after a long workout.

There are a few things I really like about Zoe’s greek salad in terms of endurance training when compared to other types of salads.

The first is that there is a potato at the bottom of the salad and it comes with pita slices.

Hello carbs! I’m not sure who first thought to put a potato in a salad but that’s a pretty genius idea to me.

The second is that the chicken on top is a great source of protein. I obviously love all of the vegetables, and the feta cheese and their greek dressing are both good fat sources as well.

"Your Body Needs Plenty of Calories"

I hope you found these meal ideas helpful. I also want to reinforce that distance running is not the time to try to diet, eliminate carbohydrates or deprive your body of nutrients. Your body needs plenty of calories and nutrients to perform well and recover from long runs.

I hope these meals gave you some examples of how to incorporate a well-rounded diet into your distance running regimen!

Any questions for Sam? Leave them in the comments below!
(Now's your chance to get free advice from a Registered Dietitian!)

Follow Sam on Instagram @GGNutritionCo for more meal tips and ideas!



  1. June 16, 2017 / 10:34 am

    I love that you included a healthy eat out option 🙂 I try to make good choices even when I go out, because this gal can;t handle cooking all the time.

    • Kristina
      June 18, 2017 / 7:02 pm

      I’m glad Sam did too! I used to just have whatever when I went out but I’m trying to get better about making healthy restaurant choices 99% of the time.

    • June 19, 2017 / 6:16 am

      Hi Karen! Something I have seen with most of my clients is that they are not interested in cooking at home or even finding easy-ish meal options to cook at home. I’m the same way some evenings! So I thought it was important to include a meal eating out. I try to go veggie-heavy when I’m eating out, but then I have to make sure there are some good-quality carbs in there if I’ve worked out!

  2. June 17, 2017 / 6:43 am

    These all look great! Smoothies are my favorite but my blender broke and now I need to wait for it to get fixed!
    For some reason this post didn’t show up on Bloglovin until Saturday morning even though it looks like it went up on Friday! Very strange.

    • Kristina
      June 18, 2017 / 7:03 pm

      Oh hmmm I wonder if it’s because I used a new plugin to mess with the blog post layout. Hopefully that doesn’t happen again – thanks for the heads up though!

  3. June 17, 2017 / 8:05 am

    We put sweet potatoes in our salads sometimes. ?

    • Kristina
      June 18, 2017 / 7:03 pm

      Sweet potato goes with everything IMO!