Nutrition Basics for 5K Runners
Training to run a 5K? Here is some helpful nutrition information for you during your training and on race day.
- If it’s been more than 4 hours since your last meal, you might want to eat a small snack 1-2 hours before your run. Think of a piece of toast with peanut butter, an apple or banana, or a granola bar. Try not to eat anything greasy or heavy.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! A well hydrated runner will have less cramps, fatigue AND will burn more calories in each run! After your morning dose of caffeine, switch to water for the rest of the day. Ditch the soft drinks completely.
- Drink a glass of water in the hour before your run. During your runs, if you feel thirsty, stop at a water fountain or carry a water bottle with you. A good rule of thumb is to drink about 1/2 – 1 cup per mile.
- After your run, try to eat a small snack/meal within 45 minutes to help aid your body in refueling and recovery! Best post workout combos is a low fat chocolate milk, Greek yogurt with fruit or a protein smoothie.
On Race Day
- Wake up at least 2 hours beforehand to have time to eat, drink, and use the bathroom. Stay away from high-fiber foods the morning of the race.
- The rule of thumb for racing is “never try anything new on race day.” Stick to foods you know will sit well with you on race morning. Toast, bagel, a waffle, or fruit with peanut butter are all good choices. Don’t forget your water or Gatorade!
Doing Your 5K as Part of a Weight Loss Plan?
Is your 5k a part of a larger plan for losing weight? Great! Running is a wonderful way to burn calories, and races are fantastic motivators to stick to an exercise plan! Here are some weight loss basics for a new runner:
- Start a food log. Journaling your workouts and what you eat will help you reach your goals in half the time!
- Running burns approximately 100 calories per mile, no matter what your pace. So if you run 3 miles per day, 5 days per week, you can burn 1,500 calories.
- Eat smaller more frequent meals throughout the day to help boost your metabolism and reduce fatigue.
- Be careful not to reward yourself for a good exercise session by splurging on more food.
If you feel hungry throughout the day even though you have eaten nutritious meals, drink a glass of water and reassess your hunger. Sometimes we feel hungry but it is actually just thirst. If you are truly hungry, eat a healthy snack like veggies and hummus or some yogurt. Keep in mind that exercise isn’t a free pass to eat unlimited food. Food is fuel!
- Couch To 5K: A 6-Week Training Plan
- Last Minute Tips to Help You Finish Your 5K, Half-Marathon, Marathon Strong
By Kelly Devine Rickert, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN
Registered Dietitian/Health Coach, Franciscan WELLCARE