The Ultimate 10K Race Day Nutrition Guide

Race your heart out without spilling your guts

Sep 30, 2011
Outside Magazine

Pre-Race Fuel    Photo: Vancity Allie on Flickr

You’ll most likely be racing for an hour or less, but that doesn’t negate the need for proper nutrition. Presenting a simple strategy from New York City runner, registered dietitian, and sports nutrition specialist, Lauren Antonucci.

Pre-Race Dinner
Don't overload on carbohydrates, or you’ll risk feeling stuffed and sluggish in the morning  Eat as much as you normally would, substituting a few extra carbs for your usual fish or salad if you want. Try loading 50 to 75 percent of your plate with complex carbs like pasta, potatoes, quinoa, or, Antonucci’s favorite, pancakes. Then fill in 25 percent with lean protein like chicken, turkey, fish, or eggs. A small amount of fat—olive oil on your pasta or the yolks from the eggs—should finish off your meal. If you must have your salad or veggies, keep the portion small, as this meal should be low in fiber. 

Aim to take in 16 to 24 ounces of fluid. It's best to get in come carbs by drinking a sports drink, but at least drink water. If your stomach can handle solid food race before a run, gor for it. Solid breakfast ideas include toast with jam, a bagel with peanut butter, oatmeal with a banana, or even a salted baked potato. As for caffeine? Antonucci recommends decreasing your usual caffeine dose by 50 percent (unless you’ve honed your caffeine intake at previous races, like Rea has). Your pre-race excitement combined with excess caffeine could force an inopportune pit stop.

What you take in during the race depends entirely on race conditions. If it’s hot or you're running at altitude, you may need fluid. Go by thirst. Otherwise, Antonucci says, you should be able to make it through without refueling.

“Respect the 10K,” Antonucci advises, especially if you’re new to the distance. It is an endurance event, so you need to refuel properly to aid muscle recovery. Try to drink something within 30 minutes of finishing. A recovery drink with protein and carbohydrates, like Gatorade’s G Series Pro 03 Recover shake or Endurox R4 powder dissolved in water, is a good place to start.

Recovery may take a week or so and lead to some hobbling across the office. If it does, don’t worry. That medal prominently dangling from your bulletin board will eliminate any need for an explanation.

Want more info on proper sports nutrition? Contact Antonucci at