Training for the i-Run Pigs 5K: Start your running diet plan now

24 Jul

There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about what your diet should be while you’re training for a 5K. Too many of the wrong kind of calories and you won’t have the energy to walk, much less run.

lehigh valley iron pigs i-run logoEast Penn Foot and Ankle Associates is sponsoring the Iron Pigs i-Run 5k and Piglet run, September 16th  at Coca-Cola park in Allentown. All proceeds benefit Iron Pigs Charities.

This is the second part in a series on how to get in shape for this race. Read part 1, Training for the i-Run Pigs 5K: Lessons for first-timers.

If you started the running/walking plan outlined in part1, you might have found that your appetite is now changing. This is because your body is demanding different types of fuel than it previously needed. Your energy stores (fat) may be declining, your need for quick bursts of energy (sugars) has increased and your muscles are asking for nutrients to help them grow (protein). Listen to your body and you’ll soon be a lean, mean running machine.

We aren’t going to deal with “diet” in the sense of losing weight here. That will undoubtedly happen as you exercise and if you follow these menu suggestions. With this plan you’ll lose weight while building muscle, which will be a very satisfying experience in many ways. This also is not the kind of diet that marathon runners follow – their diet is much higher in calories and carbs. But they’re training to run 26 miles, so their bodies have different requirements than someone who’s training for a 5K.

Menu tips for 5K training
  • Say no to fast food. Even though you can find a lot of protein at fast food restaurants, it’s usually cooked or served in a way which adds lots of empty calories, and the protein is of low quality
  • Don’t eliminate all fats: a little bit of olive oil on a salad is okay, and nuts are an excellent protein-rich snack
  • Protein is an excellent way to satisfy your hunger and it’s much more effective than a carbohydrate. If you’re eating lean proteins, you’ll be content with fewer calories.
  • Don’t skip meals – your body may jump to starvation mode, which creates a ravenous appetite and you’ll want to devour tons of simple, high sugar carbs, which is bad for you. Eat regularly and eat slowly.
Menu Plan for 5K training

(courtesy of  the Running Bug)

Breakfast (choose one):

  • wholegrain cereal like oatmeal with some ground nuts and fresh fruit with milk or plain yogurt. Provides complex carbohydrate and protein
  • oat-based cereal like muesli with no dried fruit. Add fresh fruit like plums, pears, kiwi or banana and plain yogurt with soy or almond milk.
  • hard boiled egg with wholegrain or rye bread, plus fresh fruit as above
  • rye bread or wholegrain bread topped with 100% fruit spread. Small bowl of plain yogurt, fresh fruit as above
  • fresh fruit salad (pineapple, pears, berries, kiwi, plums, apples) with low-fat plain yogurt and nuts or seeds


  • a large salad with 4-5 different salad vegetables and green leaves
  • plus a portion of protein (whitefish, chicken, egg, beans and lentils, tofu, hummus, feta or cottage cheese)
  • plus brown rice or wheat-free pasta
  • and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and lemon juice


  • a sandwich made from rye, pumpernickel or wholegrain bread and eaten ‘open’ (one slice of bread)
  • top with hummus or tahini
  • add protein such as fish, chicken, egg, beans and lentils, tofu, hummus, feta or cottage cheese
  • add plenty of salad vegetables


  • chunky vegetable soup
  • plus some wholegrain, rye or pumpernickel bread
  • plus some feta or cottage cheese or some beans added to the soup for a useful source of protein.


Base around:

  • all kinds of vegetables
  • plus a serving of carbohydrates (brown rice, couscous or other grains, wholewheat pasta or one boiled potato in its skin)
  • plus some protein (fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils)
  • for dessert: fresh fruit with plain Greek yogurt or nuts and seeds

Snacks: mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack options

  • 1 piece of fruit with a few almonds
  • Plain Greek yogurt with one teaspoon of sunflower seeds or 5-6 brazil nuts
  • low fat cottage cheese with raw vegetables
  • vegetable crudités with hummus
  • Plain Greek yogurt with an apple or pear

While this menu may be called “bird food” by some, it will pack the nutrition your body needs to train for a 5K. Your fat stores will decrease, your muscle will increase and your hunger will be satisfied. Just watch.

See you September 16!

If you have a history of heart disease, obesity or lung ailments, please check with your physician before training. The i-Run pigs 5K also includes a walk, so if you’re not fit to run, you can still participate.

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