How To Fuel A 10k Run

Athlete Running with OTE Gel

Whether you’re trying to improve your personal best time or taking on this distance for the first time, thinking about your nutritional approach to fuel a 10k run event will help improve your performance. In this complete 10k nutrition guide, we'll advise you on what to eat and drink to effectively fuel yourself for an epic run. We'll cover:

- What to eat the day before
- What to eat just before a 10km run
- What to eat during a 10k run
- What to eat after your run
- FAQs

What To Eat the Day Before Your 10k

Because a 10k is a relatively short event in comparison to say a marathon, a lot of the nutrition emphasis is put on before and after the event.

The day before your 10k run, there are two areas that need to be considered:

1. Hydration:

Your hydration status is something that can’t be changed quickly. However, it is something that can significantly affect your 10k performance. We would suggest sipping on an OTE Hydro Tab little and often in the day and hours leading up to the event. The hydro tabs provide electrolytes which will promote rehydration. This means that by the time you get to the start line, dehydration will be one thing you don’t have to worry about.

We would also recommend avoiding alcohol the day before a 10k. Not only is alcohol dehydrating, but it can also disrupt your sleep and energy levels.

As little as 2% loss of body weight through dehydration can negatively affect your 10k run, so don’t let this be the thing that lets you down on the day.

To gauge how hydrated you are the day before, keep an eye on the colour of your urine – it should be a pale, straw yellow colour.

2. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are an important part of your diet – your body relies on carbohydrates as its dominant energy source, especially when you’re pushing your body to its limits. Our body can store a limited amount of carbohydrates, so it’s a good idea to make sure these stores are full when stepping on the start line.

This doesn’t mean eating mounds more pasta than usual, but simply making sure carbohydrates make up 50-60% of each meal in the day before the 10k. We would also recommend tapering down your activity level. The combination of low-level exercise and a good percentage of carbohydrates will ensure you replenish your energy stores, without necessarily eating more!

Foods like pasta, rice and potato-based dishes are good to eat the day before your 10k. Just steer away from high-fat and high-protein foods as these can take longer to digest and leave you feeling tired.

What to Eat Just Before a 10km Run?

Most 10km events are scheduled for the morning, and this may well mean an early start. Textbook would advise consuming a meal three hours before the event. This allows your food settle in the stomach. Something like a simple bowl of porridge with a banana and some honey would be a great slow-release high-carb option.

If timings don’t allow you to eat three hours out from the race, then the closer it gets to go time, reduce the amount that you eat.

Something like an OTE Duo Bar is a great option to eat one hour out from the 10km run. It’s designed to be light on the stomach but also provide you with 40g of all important carbohydrates.

If you’re really chasing a fast time – say around 45 minutes – a caffeine energy gel may be the right energy gel for you. We recommend taking it around 20 minutes before the 10km, during your warm up. The benefit of caffeine before the start of a short, sharp event like this is that it lowers your feeling of perceived exertion (how hard you think you’re trying). This means you can usually dig that little bit deeper! No wonder it’s likened to rocket fuel!

Don’t forget about the importance of hydration before the race! Sipping little and often is key to how you should fuel a 10k run.


What to Eat During a 10k Run

The beauty of doing all the above correctly is that you should now be in the best possible situation to get through the 10k without needing to necessarily take on fuel during. Our body can usually complete 90 minutes of moderate to intense exercise without needing to refuel. But the higher the intensity, the quicker you will burn up those carbohydrate stores.

For those aiming to complete a 10km in under one hour, fuelling during the run shouldn’t be necessary. For those pushing hard but taking a longer period of time, it may be worth considering taking an energy gel to consume at around 45 minutes. An OTE Energy Gel will give you a quick release of energy along with electrolytes to replace salts lost during sweating.

What to Eat After 10k Run

If you have fully emptied the tank, expect to be feeling a bit worse for wear at the end and the legs already starting to ache. It’s at this point recovery nutrition is most important. Try to consume something within 30 minutes of finishing that ticks off the three ‘R’s of Recovery’.


  • Rehydrate – Take  in some fluid.
  • Refuel – Replenish those energy stores
  • Repair – Provide protein to help your muscles.


This is where something like an OTE Recovery Drink comes into its own. It can tick off all three ‘R’s of Recovery’ whilst feeling like a post-event tasty treat. Just mix one sachet, or two heaped scoops, with 300ml of water to make an easy to consume drink that will get you well on your way to optimal recovery.

Kick starting your recovery in this way will help reduce muscle soreness and get you back on your feet and ready to train again sooner.

10k Run Fuel FAQs

Do you need to fuel during a 10k?

Nutrition for a 10km run is important, but you don’t necessarily need to fuel during the 10k itself. In most cases, you don’t need to eat anything during a 10k run. Many people are able to complete a 10k in under 90 minutes, even if you’re new to running, and we can typically sustain moderate to intense exercise for this long without refuelling.

Should I take energy gels for a 10km run?

If you are pushing hard in your 10k are expecting to take longer than 90 minutes, you may choose to take an energy gel around the 45-minute mark.

If you are a seasoned runner aiming for a super speedy 10k time, you may want to have a caffeine energy gel about 20 minutes pre-race.

Do you need to carb load before a 10k?

You don’t necessarily need to ‘carb load’ before a 10k, but we would advise that carbohydrates make up 50-60% of each meal in the day before your 10k. At the same time, if you focus on having a more restful day doing low-level exercise, your energy stores will be replenished and ready to go for your run.

Do I need to drink water during a 10k?

We would advise drinking water during your 10k run, sipping (not gulping!) every 10 to 15 minutes. This is especially important if you are running in challenging conditions, for example in intense heat.

If you are running in a 10k event, there may be water stations on route, negating the need to carry your own bottle. Research where these are before the event.

Of course, don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated in the lead-up to the 10k, particularly the day before and the morning of.

Completing a 10k run is a big accomplishment, especially if it’s your first attempt, and a great way to challenge yourself. Knowing how to fuel for a 10k is half the battle, and eating the right foods before and after the event will make the run and recovery that much easier.

Now go and get yourself ready for your 10k with our delicious, naturally-flavoured energy and recovery products. We have so many flavours of hydro tabs, energy gels and recovery drinks to try, including a variety of tasty vegan-friendly options.