You’ve trained for months, pushing your body to new limits and distances. All those early morning runs and weekend-long runs have led up to this moment — your first 10K race. Your heart is pounding just thinking about crossing that finish line. But before you can achieve your goal, you need to fuel your body properly and separate yourself from the 20% of runners that underfuel.
What you eat the night before and the morning of the race will determine whether you crush your personal best or hit the wall halfway through. This guide outlines what to eat before running a 10K to help you curate a meal plan that works for you!
Eating Before a 10k Summary
Below, we have added a summary of what to eat before running 10k to help you learn what's to come in this in-depth nutrition plan:
Carb Loading: The night before your 10K, aim to consume 6–8 grams of carbs per kg of body weight to maximise glycogen stores for optimal performance. Choose complex carbohydrates like whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and potatoes for a sustained energy release.
Hydration: Drink sports drinks like HIGH5 ZERO to stay hydrated leading up to the race, ensuring your body performs at its peak. Avoid overeating and consuming foods high in fat or protein that can hinder digestion.
Pre-Race Meal: On race morning, eat a balanced meal of carbs, protein, and healthy fats 2–3 hours before starting. Opt for oatmeal with berries, eggs, or a banana with nut butter to fuel your run without weighing you down.
Sports Drinks: During the race, keep your energy levels up and maintain hydration by drinking sports drinks. These will help replenish electrolytes lost through sweat and keep your glycogen stores topped up for continued performance.
Nutrition for Body Weight: Tailor your pre-race nutrition to your body weight, focusing on the right foods that provide both quick and slow-releasing energy, ensuring you have the fuel needed to achieve your personal best in the 10K.
Carb Up the Night Before Your 10K
If you’re wondering what to eat before a 10K+, carb load like there’s no tomorrow. Your muscles need fuel, and carbs are the perfect pre-race meals to increase your energy levels.
For the perfect energy boost, aim for a meal high in complex carbohydrates like:
- Pasta: Whole wheat penne, spaghetti or linguine are excellent options. Top it off with a tomato-based sauce, veggies and a lean protein like chicken.
- Rice: Brown rice will give you long-lasting energy. Have it with stir-fried veggies, tofu and teriyaki sauce.
- Potatoes: Baked potato, sweet potato, or hash browns are perfect for carb loading. Top them with chilli, beans, salsa or grilled veggies.
A solid 10K requires fuel; you’ll need around 6–8 grams of carbs per kg of body weight. So, if you weigh 75 kg, shoot for 450 to 600 grams of carbs total for your pre-race dinner and snacks. Gorge on good carbs, and get ready to crush that course! By properly carb-loading the night before, you’ll have the energy to start strong and finish even stronger.
Hydrate Well Leading Up to Your 10K
You need to properly fuel your body on the night before your 10K. Once you’ve had a balanced, carb-heavy meal that provides the energy you’ll need without weighing you down, fueling for running should be your next goal. However, you should be prepared weeks before the race day.
Follow these hydration tips for the best performance on race day:
- Stay hydrated: In the days leading up to your race, drink plenty of water to ensure you’re fully hydrated. This will give you an edge, allowing your body to perform at its peak. Have an extra 250 to 500 mL with dinner each day, and continue sipping water up until bedtime. Preferably, you’ll want to add HIGH5 ZERO to your water bottle; they’re specially formulated for athletes and provide you with the essential nutrients to thrive.
- Don’t overeat: While carbs are important, don’t overdo it. Eating too much, especially foods high in fat or protein, can make it difficult for your body to digest food properly and may cause stomach issues during the run.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine: Skip a glass of wine or beer with dinner. Both alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate you and interfere with your sleep. You need all the rest you can get to ensure you wake up energised on race day.
- Have a small snack before bed: If you have an early start, have a light snack like a banana, granola bar or yoghurt 1 hour before bed. This provides extra fuel for your muscles overnight and prevents hunger pangs that might interfere with your sleep.
These tips on what to eat before a 10K race will ensure you’re properly fueled and ready to achieve your personal best. Now get to bed — you have a big day ahead! With the right preparation, you’ll wake up feeling hydrated, energised and excited to conquer that 10K.
What to Eat Before a 10K Morning Run
Curious about what to eat before a 10K run? Fuel up with the perfect balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats. Skip the sugary cereals or pastries and instead opt for a hearty, nutritious breakfast.
Here’s a list of some recommended foods to eat before a 10K:
- Oatmeal With Berries: A bowl of oatmeal provides the slow-burning carbs you need for endurance. Top it with antioxidant-rich berries like blueberries or strawberries for natural sweetness, extra nutrition and bursts of flavour.
- Eggs: Eggs are a runner’s best friend. Fry or scramble a few eggs for a hearty dose of high-quality protein. The protein in eggs helps build and repair muscle. Plus, eggs contain lutein, which is great for eye health and may even improve your running performance.
- Banana With Nut Butter: Bananas supply your body with potassium and more carbs for energy. Spread on some almond or peanut butter for healthy fats and extra protein. Nut butters also provide magnesium, which helps with energy production and bone health. For more detailed insights into the fundamental strategies of meal planning and hydration that can enhance your running performance, explore our guide on pre-run nutrition essentials.
Coffee: Have a cup (235 mL) of coffee before your run for an energising caffeine boost. Caffeine can improve your endurance by releasing more fatty acids into your bloodstream to be used as fuel. It also activates your central nervous system, making you feel more alert. You should also endeavour to pack up some Energy Gel Aqua Caffeine in a gel belt during the race for a continuous boost of energy. For more information, check out our marathon nutrition plan.
With the perfect balance of carbs, protein, and energy gels, you’ll feel fully fueled and ready to run strong for the full 10K distance. Don’t forget the importance of hydration; you’ll always need an Electrolyte Drink a few minutes to the track.
Should I Run the Day Before a 10K?
While you may exercise or run the day before your big 10K race, understand that it’s not the time to push yourself with an intense workout as you need enough stored energy. Take it easy on your legs and rest up for the challenge ahead.
Here are helpful tips to set you up for the day before your 10K race:
- Keep it light: Stick to some easy activities like a 30-minute walk or casual bike ride. This will loosen up your muscles without taxing your energy stores. Save your energy for the race; you’ll need it! A light yoga or stretching session can also help you unwind both mentally and physically.
- Carbo-load: Rely on high-carb, high-energy foods to fuel your body. Pasta, rice, potatoes, and bread are all great options. Have an extra serving at dinner to boost your muscle glycogen stores. Also, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or an electrolyte drink like HIGH5 Energy Drink.
- Get plenty of rest: Aim for 8–10 hours of sleep the night before the race. Late nights or restless sleep can impact your performance, energy level, and motivation. Establish a relaxing pre-bed routine like a warm bath, gentle yoga, or reading a book. Mentally preparing for the race will also help calm any pre-race jitters so you can sleep soundly.
- Set out your gear: Lay out everything you’ll need for the race the night before running — shoes, clothes, bib, timing chips, and electrolyte tablets or drinks. This avoids any last-minute scrambling on race day morning and ensures you have everything ready to go. Double check you have extras of important items like shoelaces, safety pins for your bib, and a change of warm clothes for after the race. Most runners also prefer to pack what to eat after running the night before and a gel belt along to keep their refuelling gels.
3 Tips for Race Day Nutrition and Hydration
The night before your big race, you want to fuel your body properly with the right foods, so you have the energy to push through those final miles.
Here are 3 important nutrition tips for a 10K run:
- Focus on complex carbs.
- Add in lean protein.
- Avoid high-fat fibre.
1. Focus on complex carbs.
Complex carbohydrates are different from simple carbohydrates in their structure and the way your body processes them. Complex carbs, found in foods like whole grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables, are composed of longer chains of sugar molecules. This complexity means your body takes longer to break them down and absorb them, providing a steady, prolonged release of energy.
This means complex carbohydrate intake provides sustained energy, helping to prevent the mid-race energy slump that can come from the rapid ups and downs of blood sugar levels. By loading up on complex carbs, such as whole-grain pasta, rice, potatoes, and legumes, two nights before the race, you’re giving your body a store of slow-release energy to draw upon.
2. Add in lean protein.
Ensure to add a carefully measured portion of lean protein to your pre-race meal plan. You can get protein from chicken, fish, eggs, or nutrient-rich Greek yoghurt. The importance of protein lies in its ability to aid in muscle repair and provide a sense of fullness, preventing unnecessary snacking. It’s advisable to target an intake of 1.2–2 grams of this vital nutrient per every kilogram of your body weight. To learn more, check out our guide on what to eat before a run.
3. Avoid high-fat or fibre intake.
While fat and fibre are part of a healthy diet, avoid them in the 12 hours before your race. High-fat or high-fiber foods can be difficult to digest and may cause stomach upset during the run. Processed foods are known for containing high fats, so you’ll want to avoid them before running a 10K.
On race day, stick to the foods you know work for your body; this isn’t to time to experiment with anything new! Eat a mix of carbs, protein and healthy fats 2–3 hours before the start. Most importantly, drink plenty of water or electrolyte drinks up until 2 hours before the start of the race to ensure you’re well-hydrated for the challenge ahead.
HIGH5’s Top Products for Fueling Your 10K
Running a 10K is good for you, and HIGH5’s sports nutrition products are designed specifically for endurance athletes like you. Before your 10K race, fuel your body and mind with our scientifically formulated gels, drinks and bars.
Slip a few Energy Gel packs into your pocket for an instant burst of energy during your run. The gel contains carbohydrates for fuel, electrolytes to replace what you sweat out, and caffeine for an extra kick. At just 40g, they’re easy to carry and consume on the go.
Energy Drink With Protein (4:1)
For your pre-race dinner, whip up a batch of Energy Drink 4:1. This drink provides the ideal 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein to store fuel in your muscles for the big event. Simply mix the powder with water for a citrus-flavoured fuel that goes down easily. The essential nutrients will calm your nerves so you can visualise achieving your goal.
Within 30 minutes after finishing your 10K, eat a Protein Recovery Bar. Packed with 50 g of protein, carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients, these bars will help repair aching muscles and restore depleted energy stores. The banana vanilla or chocolate flavours satisfy your taste buds while the nutrients get to work. Go for it; you’ve earned this treat!
With HIGH5’s customised products formulated for endurance athletes in your arsenal, you’ll fly through your 10K feeling strong and focused. Our cutting-edge formulas provide the specific nutrients you need before, during and after your run for maximum performance and recovery. Now get out there and show that course the stuff you’re made of! You’ve got this, runner!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to run a 10K?
On average, a 10K run—measuring 6.2 miles—takes 50–70 minutes for most runners, while more advanced runners can complete the run in under 50 minutes. Overall, it depends on the runner’s musculoskeletal health and fitness.
What should I eat before a 10K run?
Before a 10K run, consume a light meal of complex carbohydrates like whole grain bread or pasta, coupled with a bit of protein and hydration.
Should I eat a banana before a 10K run?
Yes, eating a banana before a 10K run is beneficial. Bananas are easily digestible and slow the absorption rate of sugar in the bloodstream, making them an excellent snack prior to a workout. You may enjoy bananas alone or combine them with a great protein source, such as peanut butter or yoghurt.
Should you take water on a 10K run?
While it depends on individual needs and weather conditions, generally, it’s advisable to stay hydrated during a 10K run. Many runners prefer to take advantage of water stations along the route, but carrying a hydration pack of ZERO Electrolyte Drink tablets is a great option.
You’ve trained for months, and now the big day is here. You’ve studied every inch of the course, and your gear is ready. The only thing left is fueling your body, and you now know what to eat before running a 10K.
On the night before your race, treat yourself to a perfect pre-race dinner to give you the energy that will last for miles — complex carbs, lean protein, and healthy fats. As you take each bite, visualise yourself crossing the finish line strong and imagine the cheers of the crowd pushing you up that final hill. But don’t forget the essentials — whip up your gear with essential Energy Gels and Electrolyte Drinks from HIGH5. And if you’re preparing for a half marathon, check out this guide on what to eat.