Carb loading

With marathon season in full swing it made me think about last year and the preparation the week before. I’m not training at the minute just running to keep fit but my husband is so I’m living it through him.

It’s mad when you don’t have a running goal, it’s so hard to get motivated. Especially when you’re tired or it’s raining. I miss it.

So carbo loading, this is what I took from all I read. I’m not saying it is the only way but it worked for me as I never hit the wall and finished within my goal time.

You can only store 18 miles of energy (glycogen)

Well I’ve read it’s 90 minutes but I think you’re all out of stores after 18/20 miles. Your energy gels, jelly beans, cold potatoes (some people swear by them) need to be taken every 6 miles or so and fluid needs drinking every 10 mins to build your stores while you’re running so you get through the rest. The faster you run the more you need to take in.

Carbo load three days before

To make sure you get the most glycogen stored before the race you carbo load three days before. I started on the Thursday and I swear it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. You are eating practically every hour. It’s surprising how much you have to eat. You need about 8-10g of carbs per kg of weight. For me I went for 9g per kg and needed 423g carbs each day. Considering there’s only about 45g of carb in a cup of brown rice you see my point. The other thing to remember is you store a lot of water when carb loading so your waistline will spread.  I think I put two inches on around my waist during those few days but I lost that and more after the race.  Felt funny when starting to run though – think I over did it or ate the wrong carbs – had a mega paunch.

Best to mix protein and carbs

How do you fill your day with carbs? I’ll post a day’s worth of carbo foods next. It’s easy to get carbs from sugar but you have to try mix it up so some is slow release.

It’s also important to make sure you have protein. It slows the digestion of carbs so makes the meal lower GI so you release energy slower. Milk, cheese and quorn were my main sources but I’m sure meat is better.

The one thing I learned though was to hold back on the fibre. Next time I won’t have brown everything because it’s not great on race day. Too much fibre and vegetables can make you have proper runner’s trots before the race. Nice.

I’ll post an average day of carb loading next….


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