In preparation for our 10th Annual Long Island Race, Lindenhurst, NY on Nov. 18th, we’re sharing a 10 Week 5k Training Series for beginners. Whether you’re joining us at our Long Island Race or you are signed up for another upcoming 5k, we want to help you get the most out of your training.  This post was written by Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer, Katie Henry, RD, ACE CPT, ACE WMSC and will discuss tips for beginners on how to best prepare your body for a 5k race.

Congratulations on your upcoming 5K!  You now have about 10 weeks to train to run your best possible race yet!  This may be your first, or maybe it’s your 50th.  Either way, there will be a beneficial information in this post for everyone! My name is Katie Henry, and I am a personal trainer and the in-house registered dietitian with b3 Wellness.  We are so excited to be able to partner with Hope for the Warriors and spread a little bit of our passion and knowledge with you!

There are two parts to training for a 5K; exercise and nutrition.  We will discuss each to get you 100% ready for your race. Click Here to download your 10-week training packet.   There are three strength based workouts and other days of cardio.  I have added specific exercises (along with picture demonstrations) that are perfect for cross training with running.  Including strength training into your routine will help you become stronger and faster by utilizing muscles and movements that aren’t trained with running alone.  Follow this guide (as you are able), and you will be more than prepared to crush that 5K and even more if wanted!  It is important to note that there is more to training than just exercise.

While exercise may be the primary part of training; nutrition is an incredibly important, highly under-utilized tool that can make a huge difference if you invest in it. How much you eat, when you eat, and what you eat all impact your performance.  This post will discuss some basic tips on how to best prepare your body for the race.

When you are eating for a performance reason (running a 5K) instead of an aesthetic reason (losing 10 pounds), the focus should be more on what you are consuming as opposed to how much.  This leads us to macronutrients or “macros”.  That term is thrown around a lot these days, so I want to explain just a little bit about them.  Macros are the specific nutrients that are required in large amounts.  They are water, carbohydrates (carbs), protein, and fat.  All, except for water, are responsible for contributing calories to the foods we eat.

Each macro has a different impact in our body, so they are required in different amounts for different goals.  Carbs are the primary source of energy for our body, especially the heart and brain.  Protein is the basic building block for every cell and helps facilitate every chemical reaction that occurs within our body.  Fat is a backup source of energy and is required for absorption of certain nutrients.  How does this impact the various goals you may ask?  There are endless variations, and it is a very individualized process.

ChartBlog                  While I can’t provide specific numbers for each one of you at this time; runners should typically consume around 45-55% of their daily calories as carbohydrates, 25-35% as protein, and 20-25% as fat.  Add those percentages together, and it should total 100% of your recommended calories.  This ratio will provide plenty of energy (carbs) for your training while still allowing the capability of building muscle (carbs & protein).  Again, these numbers do vary drastically based on sex, age, previous activity level, previous intake, goals, and medical conditions.  It may take a trial and error period, but I recommend starting with this ratio and working from there.

I know this can be somewhat intimidating, but there are certain ways that you can improve your ratio without having to count and measure every piece of food you consume.  Overall, try to focus on fueling your body.  This means a large variety of whole, fresh foods.  If you try to limit the number of processed foods you consume and instead focus on whole foods; you will have much more energy for your workouts, stay full longer and promote fat burn.  See the list below for some healthy options for each macro category.  Stick with a variety of these, and you will be doing your body good!

Carbohydrate foods

Protein foods Fat foods
(focus mostly on green, leafy veggies)
Lean meats Oils
(variety with a focus on mixed berries)
Poultry (chicken and turkey primarily) Nuts
Quinoa Eggs Nut butters
Brown rice Fish (salmon, cod, herring, etc.) Avocado
Whole grain bread Nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc.) Fish
Oatmeal Beans Eggs
Water: Try to consume at least 80-100oz/day for women and 100-120 oz/day for men

To help put that into more of a plan, here are some meal ideas for you:

Breakfast ideas:
–  Overnight oats with nut butter, fruit, flax seeds, and honey
– Whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana with hard boiled eggs on the side
–  Protein smoothie with dairy, fruit, greens, and protein powder
**If adding protein, use either whey, hemp, pea, or other vegetable-based powder
–  Vegetable omelet with fruit on the side

Lunch ideas:
– Tuna and rice with vegetables on the side
– Whole grain sandwich with grilled chicken breast and vegetables with fruit on the side
– Spinach salad with salmon
– Chicken salad lettuce wraps with fruit and vegetables on the side

Dinner ideas:
– Stuffed bell peppers with lean ground turkey
– Whole grain pasta with turkey/chicken meatballs and vegetables on the side
– Salmon with quinoa and vegetables on the side
– Grilled chicken with sweet potato fries and mixed vegetables

Feel free to substitute some of your own favorites, just try to make sure they follow a similar structure (all meals should consist of protein, carbs, and fats)! Now that you have an idea of what your typical meals should look like, I want to provide some basic tips to implement as habits.  These are small details that help to improve metabolism, performance, and recovery throughout the day.

  1. Consume breakfast within 30 minutes to an hour of waking
  2. Consume majority of carbs before dinner time
  3. Have protein, carbs, and fat with every meal/snack
  4. Eat the protein-based food first as protein makes you feel full quicker than carbs and fat
  5. For intense workouts, consume a carb heavy snack about an hour beforehand and a mix of protein and carbs within half an hour following
  6. The higher carb meals should be consumed on long run or heavy strength training days
  7. The lower carb meals should be consumed on rest and/or low intensity days

I know this has been a lot to cover, so I hope those tips help to simplify everything a bit.  While nutrition tends to be an underrated part of 5K training, it can help to significantly improve your performance.  Ensuring you have enough energy, hydration, and nutrients in your body will enable you to have the best possible outcome during your race.

One last tip I have for you is to try out myfitnesspal or USDA’s SuperTracker.  These are apps and web pages that allow you to track your daily food intake.  It will tell you exactly how many calories, macronutrients, and micronutrients are in each item you enter. This is a great way to not only hold yourself accountable, but also to learn more about the foods you consume daily.

I will be following up in a few weeks with more tips for your 5k training as we get closer to race day.  If you have any questions or need specific diet/exercise recommendations, please feel free to email me at and I would be more than happy to help!

I want to sincerely thank you for allowing me to be a part of your experience and I wish you absolute success on your journey!

If you would like to sign up for one of our upcoming Run For The Warriors® races, check out our race schedule. For more from Katie Henry visit

Blog Picture2Blog Picture1