Fuel Your Run for the Women’s Mini Marathon

By planning your nutrition and hydration, you can run the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon to your best ability.

Mini Marathon participants

Running a 10K is often a new runners’ first try at putting a number on and racing against others. But whether it’s your first time doing this 10k or if it’s a push for a PB this year, looking after your nutrition before, during and afterwards can make it a much more pleasant experience.  This means practising some of your nutrition strategies weeks before the actual race.

Nutrition for your 10K training runs:

If you’re running 10K during your training sessions you need to be thinking about when and what to eat around it. If you are looking to run at a good pace, i.e. with your heart rate above 65% of your maximum, you need some carbohydrate in your system at the start. Regardless of what time of day you run, try and have a carbohydrate snack two hours before your run if you want to run at your best performance and then a combined carb and protein snack or meal after your run. You’ll also need to make sure you rehydrate well afterwards. Some snack ideas could be any of the following;

  • x 2 oatcakes, banana and yoghurt
  • x 2 large breadsticks and 1 – 2 tablespoons hummus
  • A fruit pot, yoghurt and granola
  • cereal bar and a piece of fruit

Eat a normal dinner the night before race day and ensure that you have some starchy carbohydrate such as rice, pasta, or potato in this meal.

Hydration during training runs:

It actually takes the body 2 weeks to become fully hydrated, so if you’re not a great fluid drinker now’s the time to try and improve at drinking more – otherwise when it comes to race day, you will start the race dehydrated and half way through your race you may feel the running becomes a struggle.   Increasing your fluid intake during training is a good opportunity improve your habits. Use the 30 – 35ml/kg guide for fluid requirements and try to spread your fluids out throughout the day.   A good indication of being well hydrated is that your urine is straw-coloured.

Race Day Nutrition:

You need to bare in mind that the Mini Marathon doesn’t start until 2pm.  This means you’ll need to plan your day a little. The night before race day make sure you are well hydrated before bed. Avoid alcohol, which can cause dehydration and deplete your muscle glycogen stores.

Breakfast: Wake up and have your usual breakfast around 8/ 9am. This should be mainly carbohydrate based as your liver glycogen (carbohydrate) stores decrease over night.  Have normal breakfast foods that you’re used to such as toast & cereals.

Healthy pre-race snack

Light Snack / Early Lunch:  Then have a snack or early lunch 2 – 3 hours before the race at about 12 noon. This will help top up your muscle glycogen levels, which is the stored energy in your muscles and liver.  Don’t have this snack too late as this could cause stomach cramps early on in the race. Good examples include;

  • a wrap, bread or white roll with chicken or fish
  • Tuna and pasta salad
  • Jacket potato with cottage cheese
  • Crackers and cheese and a banana
  • Jam and peanut butter sandwich with a piece of fruit

If you have adequately fuelled your body the evening and morning before the event, you should have enough stored energy in your body to run your 10K without requiring any extra fuel during the run.

Race Day Hydration:

Because the Mini Marathon isn’t until 2pm you will need to ensure that you keep well hydrated all morning.  Aim to drink 500ml-1000ml of fluid in the build-up to the race; ideally as 500ml over 2-3 hours at breakfast and 500ml in the build-up to the event.

During the race there will likely be hydration stations or carry your own water bottle.  If it’s going to be a very hot day, you might need electrolyte replacement from the electrolyte tablets like NUUNS or High5 electrolytes which you can buy in great outdoors or running type shops.

Post Race Recovery Nutrition:

After training or racing over long or short distance the body will be in a state of depletion.  The aim replete energy stores in order to prevent the following;

  • To reduce fatigue
  • To reduce the risk of injury
  • to reduce soreness the next day

The capacity of your muscles to absorb and store nutrients is increased in the 30-60 minutes post-exercise, so it is important to replace carbohydrates within 30 – 60 mins.  This can be done with “real food” such as carbohydrate e.g. banana and crackers or yoghurt and fruit or cereal bars and milk, however this is not always possible or palatable immediately after a race. So something like a liquid snack that contains carbs, protein and electrolytes like chocolate milk would be ideal.  Once you have had an easy to reach carbohydrate based snack, then aim to go for a decent late lunch that combines carbs and protein and also have a good dinner again that evening with protein and carbs for maximum muscle recovery.

Post Race Hydration:

Ensure you continue to drink water throughout the evening until your urine is running clear.  Some amateur runners weigh themselves before and after running and for every 1kg weight lost, you will need to replace with 1.5L fluid over the evening.



caffeine and coffee
Caffeine can help enhance performance when running

If you are an experienced 10K runner and really want to push for a PB it might be worth thinking about taking caffeine before your run. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, so ideally you should be a regularly caffeine user already (coffee or tea drinker) and have tried it a few times in training first. A dose around 150mg one hour before is a good level to start at (x 200ml cup of coffee = 100 – 150mg caffeine), up to 300mg as an absolute daily maximum.