Middle Distance

Middle Distance Runners

  • 800 meters to half-marathon, lasting 2 minutes to 90 minutes

In middle distance running, the main energy source is the aerobic metabolism of fat (50% to 98% of energy).

  • The longer the distance, the greater the contribution of aerobic metabolism.
  • A much smaller amount of energy comes from anaerobic metabolism of glucose (50% to 2%). The aerobic metabolism of fat also requires adequate glucose for maximum efficiency. Therefore, middle distance runners need slightly more fat and slightly less carbohydrates than sprinters.

I would recommend a diet where:

  • 60% of calories come from carbohydrates
  • 15% of calories come from protein
  • 25% of calories come from fat

In this case, the ratio of grams of carbohydrate to protein is 4:1 and the ratio of grams of fat to protein of 0.75:1.

As an example, a 73 kilogram(160 lb) male middle distance runner whose basic metabolic requirements are 3200 calories per day, would have to consume 448 grams of carbohydrate, 112 grams of protein, and 84 grams of fat per day just for the energy they need to go about their daily activities.

You would then have to add to this the number of calories burned per day in training and competition, with protein, carbohydrate and fat divided out in the same ratios, to get their total requirements for the day.

This is a good general diet for any athlete whose competition lasts between 2 and 90 minutes, which encompasses the majority of sports.

It is also the diet recommended by the sports dietitian Tim Wierman in his article “Nutrition for Swimmers: Eat to Win” (Swimming Magazine 2007, Issue 4) and in his course “Eat to Compete: The Athlete’s Sports Nutrition Program”. For competitions in the higher end of this range (greater than 1500 meters or longer than 4 minutes), carb loading for one to four days prior to the competition is recommended in order to avoid depletion of the glycogen stores during competition.

Learn more about Marathon Runners.

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