Are you stressed out about what you should be eating when training for a race? The good news is there is no extreme diet you need to follow when preparing to run a 5K (3.1 miles). In fact, it boils down to common sense. Simply stated, good nutrition is key to building endurance to finish the race.
According to training experts, diet training and eating the right balance of foods with the right mix of carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits, fats, protein and plenty of water will help make you ready to compete.
The article links above will help you determine how much of each of these components you should consider in your diet right up to the day of the 5K. You will notice that some of the same foods can be found in more than one category.
By some accounts, carbohydrates are the most important element to a training diet as carbs fuel the body. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that we eat an average of six ounces of carbs per day (based on a 2,000 calorie diet). While training for your race, you should consume half of that amount in carbs such as whole grain bread, pasta, cereal. It is not necessary to “load up” on carbs as some suggest.
An article entitled “The Best Food for Runners” published by Runner’s World suggests that veggies such as red and yellow peppers, onions, bok choy and soy beans, as well as leafy greens, will lessen soreness upon completion of the 5k and thus should be included in your training diet. Other vegetables—rich in carbohydrates—including broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and eggplant can also be considered as options on your training menu and on race day.
Fruits contain essential carbs, antioxidants and other vitamins. Oranges are often cited as beneficial to runners as they provide vitamin C and help reduce muscle soreness. Other fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, and grapefruit are also good to include.
Nuts are considered essential for a runner’s diet. Almonds in particular get high praise as they contain healthy fats, proteins, antioxidants and fiber. Cashews and peanuts are also good. Other healthy fats you can add for variety include nut, vegetable and olive oils, avocados, peanut butter, olives, salmon, tuna and cod.
Chicken, fish, pork, yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, peanut butter, seeds, nuts and protein bars are all good examples of protein-rich foods.
Staying hydrated is vital during training and on the day of the run. It is well known that our bodies cannot function without water so drink up.
Northern Illinois Food Bank has two Foodie 5K races fast approaching. Consider participating to help support our mission of solving hunger in northern Illinois. Join us for the May 14 Foodie 5K at Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville and the June 11 race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet.