Sports Nutrition with Coach Dan Reeve

25 July 2020 - By Scott Darney

I have worked with Dan Reeve over the last 9 months and he has helped me learn about fuelling for my marathon training and recovery. As a result I have set various PBs during the Autumn of 2019 and some unofficial PBs in 2020.

Originally from Essex, Dan has over 20 years experience in the fitness industry and his personal achievements include completing a deca-ironman, 5 l’etape du tours, 19 marathons, an ironman and various strongman titles including 5th Strongest Natural U80kg in the World in 2017.

You could say he knows what he is talking about so I was delighted when he agreed to provide us with the article below on the benefits of understanding and implementing nutrition in endurance sports:


Sports Nutrition

Demanding endurance training plans, involving daily or twice-daily sessions require sufficient fuel and recovery strategies to prevent fatigue and optimise training adaptions. Although low body fat stores are pursued by some distance runners in an attempt to benefit performance, severe energy and nutrient restriction can lead tofatigue, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, bone injuries and disordered eating.

Requirements for carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and minerals and fluids vary depending on training phase. An individual’s carbohydrate intake should reflect their daily training load; increasing total carbohydrate and energy intake during high-volume daysand decreasing intake when volume and intensity are reduced (e.g. easy, recovery days).

Nutrient dense carbohydrate rich foods (such as wholegrain breads and cereals, starchy vegetables, fruit, dairy) should be prioritised to meet fuel demands, however there may also be a need to include additional carbohydrate rich foods/drinks (e.g. sports drinks, energy gels) around training to improve performance during heavy training loads. Strategic intake of carbohydrate rich foods/drinks soon after training will aid rapid muscle glycogen repletion, particularly if training twice on the same day. Including protein rich foods throughout the day assists to build new muscle protein and red blood cells as part of the repair and adaptation process.

Gastrointestinal upset during hard runs is common. Many runners often prefer to run on an empty stomach, with the pre-training food/drink eaten well in advance of the session. Low fibre foods or liquid meal supplements before hard training sessions may also help reduce concerns.

Hydration needs

Endurance athletes should aim to drink enough fluid each day to replace losses.Fluidneedsare influenced by factors that drive fluid losses such as temperature, sweat rate, exercise intensity, duration and altitude. It is not necessary or practical to replace all fluid losses during a session/race, but rather aim to replace ~150% of the fluid volume lost over the ~4-6 hours following the session.

Eating before a run

The main factors causing fatigue during competition are fuel (carbohydrate) depletion and dehydration. Storage of adequate muscle fuel (glycogen) is required to ensure runners can complete their events at desired intensity.

For longer distances (half marathon and further), carbohydrate loading over the 24-48 hours before the event can help to increase glycogen stores, improving fuel availability during the event. Consuming low fibre foods, reducing high protein or high fat foods and using compact liquid carbohydrate foods over the last 12-24 hours before the event can help to reduce the risk of stomach upset during the race.

The pre-event meal is a vital opportunity for a final top up of glycogen stores and to optimise hydration levels. For an early morning race, where time is scarce, a light, low fibre carbohydrate-rich snack can be eaten 1-2 hours before the race.

Some suitable pre-event light snack ideas include:

  • Whey protein+ muesli bar
  • Peanut butter on toast
  • Crumpets with banana + honey
  • Creamed rice

A later racetime might allow for a larger meal 3-4 hours before the start of the event, followed by a small snack or carbohydrate containing fluid closer to the race start. These meals should be practised in training before a long run.
Some suitable examples include:

  • Porridge with milk and fruit
  • Rice or pasta dish
  • Sandwich or roll with lean salad filling
  • Banana smoothie

Eating and drinking during competition

As the race distance increases there is an increased need for additional fuel (carbohydrate) during the event. For half marathon or longer events, having 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour is recommended to prevent muscle fatigue and to maintain pace and cognition. These should be easy to digest carbohydrate-rich options with minimal fat, fibre and protein as these slow down digestion. Sports foods such as gels, energy chews, sports bars and sports drinks are suitable choices and easy to carry on the run course. Consuming a standard 6% carbohydrate sports drink at aid stations located throughout an event will help to meet carbohydrate and fluid needs simultaneously.

Some triathletes/runners vary their carbohydrate food/drink choice at different stages of the event, and many use cola drinks in the later stages of the race for the additional benefit of caffeine to aid performance. Experimenting during long training sessions that simulate race day or during lead up events will help determine the ideal plan for an individual.

Recovery nutrition

High-intensity training sessions, races or long runs deplete glycogen stores so consuming a carbohydrate-rich meal/snack soon after finishing will help to maximise recovery. In addition, the recovery meal or snack should include 20-25g of high quality protein to aid with muscle repair. Including healthy fats will also help to reduce inflammation. Fluids (predominantly water) should also be included to rehydrate and replace sweat losses. Nutrient-rich whole food choices should be prioritised and athletes with a low energy budget should aim to time their training sessions around meal times so that they can use main meals to promote recovery after training.

Some recovery food suggestions include:

  • Tuna, avocado and salad sandwich
  • Poached eggs on toast with side of veggies
  • Yoghurt with muesli with nuts and fresh fruit


Practice test-fuelling and fluid strategies during training to ensure you are comfortable with eating food and fluidwhilstriding/runningand from aid stations.


If you would like to learn more about how nutrtion can aide your training and performance, Dan provides various personal coaching programs from nutritional coaching and education, personal training and mentorship as well as specific 10k and sprint triathlon to marathon and ironman training programs.

You can learn more about Dan on his website and his social media platforms listed below:

Website | Instagram | Facebook


  1. Bill Smythe says:

    Great article and good to be reminded of things I know but always seem to forget once I start the race.

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