You are right to recognize that as your mileage increases so too should your food intake. A basic rule of thumb is that for each mile, caloric needs can increase by 100. That isn’t a lot of food, but by the time you’re putting in longer training runs, it can be very significant.
Since carbohydrate fuels the miles, great power foods to add more of include whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and barley; fruits; beans, and potatoes (sweet or white); and milk and/or yogurt. As you add miles, do not skip on protein or healthy fats but do add on carbohydrate. Here are a few suggestions:
If you’re already eating oatmeal for breakfast, add some raisins, dried cherries, and nuts on top. Include 8 oz of orange juice and round out with some Greek yogurt for your protein punch.
For lunch, increase your brown-rice stir fry serving from three-quarters of a cup to one and a quarter cups (cooked), and have a fruit salad for desert. Or instead of a turkey sandwich, go for a turkey wrap (more carbs). If a salad is your go-to lunch, mix in corn, peas, and beans to up the carbohydrate.
Try a lager portion of potatoes or noodles with dinner and round out with fruit juice instead of water.
The idea is not necessarily to load with carbohydrate but rather to systematically increase your intake with each meal, staying stocked and consistent.
Remember too, that if you are putting in more miles, your intake during your runs should increase as well, and your recovery strategy should include more carbohydrate. This will offset help you avoid needing to consume really large amounts carbs at any one time.
Heidi Skolnik is a sports nutritionist at the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at Hospital for Special Surgery. She worked with the New York Giants football team for 18 years and has served as a consultant to professional teams for 25 years, as well as to Olympic, collegiate, high school, and recreational athletes. She is the author of Grill Yourself Skinny (Creative Homeowners, 2013).