The Healthy Runner

Stay Healthy and Full of Energy for Athletes/Runners

Importance of Iron and Ferritin levels for Energy

Studies show that eating sufficient amounts of iron and supplementing if necessary can help increase your ferritin levels. Runners need higher ferritin levels because of the role of ferritin in energy production, so runners need to ensure they consume enough iron to keep their ferritin levels healthy.  –

Signs of Iron Deficiency



Shortness of Breath

Heart Palpitations

Dryness hari/skin

Foods that decrease Iron

Dairy, Coffee and tea taken an hour before eating

Foods that Increase Iron and Improve Ferritin levels

Spinach, legumes.beans.chickpeas

Liver, Red Meat * Sardines

Brown Rice, Chia Seeds, Raisins, pumpkin seeds

Black Strap Molasses (add to tea or smoothie)

Other foods that improve the ability of athletes:

Foods rich in Vit C (oranges…helps enhance iron absorption, strawberries, red pepper)

Electrolytes (coconut water)

If taking supplements use a food source:

Mega Food  Garden of Eden

 Robyn Jill, LMT CCMT Family Nutrition Coach  805-320-7956


Smoothies, breakfast, snacks

Post Running Smoothie

1 banana

1 C vanilla yogurt (can be dairy free)

1 Tbsp honey

½ tsp freshly grated ginger

1 navel orange peeled

¼ C yogurt

2 Tbsp frozen concentrate OJ

¼ tsp vanilla extract

Ice cubes

*Ingredients to add iron and help iron absorption

Blk strap molasses …Fresh Spinach….Chia Seeds

*Optional….Coconut water

Chia Seed Pudding

1 C Chia Seeds

1 C fresh organic Strawberries

1 C coconut milk

Blend and soak over night

Breakfast Porridge

Quinoa, raisins, pumpkin seeds , Maple syrup (or honey)

Mix together add hot water, soak overnight

Protein Balls

1 C nut butter (i.e. almond, peanut, sunflower)

1 C Honey (or less)

1 C rice Crisp cereal

2 Tbs Chia seeds

Mix together roll into balls…put in fridge or freezer

Roll in choc chips, coconut flakes

The following are recommendations on proper Sleep, Nutrition and Hydration, all of which will give your body the fuel for an awesome cross country season!

Additionally here is an article on training in the heat:


  • Adequate sleep allows you to be more alert and focused on schoolwork and gives you the ability to train hard
  • Teenagers need AT LEAST 8-10 hours of sleep a night
  • Your muscles, tendons and ligaments are repaired while sleeping, allowing your body to recover from training
  • Going to bed and waking up around the same time every day establishes a routine for quality sleep
  • Avoid using phones, iPads, computers & TV’s before bed as the light disrupts the process of falling asleep
  • Avoid caffeine after 2 – 3 PM


Three “macronutrients” we get calories (energy) from: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats

1. Carbohydrates: Stored as glycogen in muscles and liver

o “Bad carbs” = simple carbohydrates, seen in table sugar, candy, sodas; eat in moderation!
o “Good carbs” = complex carbohydrates, seen in whole grain breads, vegetables, beans, oatmeal; these

should constitute the bulk of eaten carbs
2. Protein: Important for repairing muscles and other tissues after exercise

o Beans, fish, meats (also good sources of iron)
3. Fats: Used as building blocks in cells throughout the body

o “Bad fats” = trans fats, hydrogenated fats, saturated fats, seen in baked/fried foods; eat in moderation! o “Good fats” = monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, seen in oils like olive oil, in peanut butter, and fish; these should be the bulk of eaten fats Suggested daily intake:

  • Carbohydrates: 45-65%
  • Proteins: 10-30%
  • Fats: 25-35%
  • 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables

A runner who is ~150 pounds will need to consume anywhere from 2,500-5,000 calories a day! You’re growing, exercising, and working hard every day at school, so eat when you’re hungry!


Weight loss occurs during exercise due to loss of water through sweating o Losing 1-2% of your body weight can negatively impact performance! o 3% or more can increase the risk of a heat-related illness occurring

  • Urine that is pale yellow (like lemonade) is a sign of proper hydration while dark urine (like apple juice) is a sign of dehydration
  • Steer clear of sodas and sweetened juices as they contain a lot of simple carbohydrates (“bad sugars”)
  • Daily recommended is ~2.5 – 3.5 L per day
  • Have a water bottle with you throughout the day to continually drink from, and for after running
  • Make sure to drink when you’re thirsty but don’t force yourself to drink uncomfortable amounts of water


  • Iron deficiency is becoming much more common in both female and male endurance athletes, and can directly affect athletic performance.
  • All athletes are encouraged to get a blood test before season to determine their base levels for: Hemoglobin, serum ferritin and hematocrit.
  • Always ask for a copy of the blood test results, because what is in the “normal range” for a sedentary person is not the same as the “optimal range” for an athlete.
  • If there is a deficiency, this is not a “quick fix”, it can take 4 – 8 weeks to increase levels and notice a performance improvement. If blood tests reveal that there is a deficiency the form of iron, ferrous bisglycinate, is more easily absorbed and gentler on the gastrointestinal tract.
  • For any questions and further clarification, please consult with the coaching staff.