When training for a 5K, trail run, or half marathon, what you eat is as important as what you do.

How to Fuel Up for a Fitness Challenge

Whether you’re planning to run the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon 10K and 5K next weekend or participate in another running event in the coming months, you need to be in tip top form. And that means learning about the best way to fuel up, both for the short and long haul. And surprise, surprise, times have changed, and some of these strategies may go against what your high school coach told you years ago!

Here’s what the experts currently say about youshould you change your diet when you’ve got an event coming up.

1. Eat breakfast. Everyday, not just when you have time. Balance whole grains with protein; think toast with peanut butter or granola with yogurt.

2. Systematize your eating. Base your meal planning around the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate system, which starts with half the plate filled with fruits and vegetables. Divide the other half equally between protein and whole grains.

3. Make water your default drink. Not tea, not juice, just water. Eliminate the added sugars and dehydrating caffeine that come with sweet teas, spritzers, and even sports drinks. And of course just say no to soda.

4. Eat every few hours. Hunger is not your friend; low blood sugar can sap your energy and sideline your training and going too long without food tends to trigger overeating.

5. Track Your Progress. Still not sure if you’re eating right? Use the USDA’s My Plate Plan to figure out a diet plan tailored to your needs and get personalized nutrition advice.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.