Welcome to another fabulous edition of Running Coaches’ Corner, where Susie, Debbie, Rachel and I share some solid advice for runners! It’s a link up so that means you are invited to share you post too… check it out at the bottom. This month, we are focused on nutrition. I really just realized how important nutrition is to making me a stronger runner a few years ago, and have been trying to work on it ever since.
One of the things I’ve been trying to change? Carbo loading.
For the longest time, I had a misconception of what it meant to carbo load. What, long run?! I must stuff my face with all the bread and pasta in the world thinking that it was good for my body and that it was what it needed.
It was not what I needed.
It did nothing for my body.
And more importantly, it did nothing for my running.
What is carbo loading?
Carbo loading is basically what you do before a race to make sure that you have enough energy stored in your body (liver) before a race. It’s usually something that marathoners do before the big race to make sure that they have the fuel that they need to conquer 26.2 miles.
The thing is, I feel like the true act of “carbo loading” has been twisted over the years to become something that doesn’t even speak to what our bodies truly need. It’s become a reason to binge on some of the most unhealthy carbs that we have out there and while sometimes that’s needed (oh hey stress), it definitely doesn’t do anything to give us the extra energy.
How many carbs should you eat?
The best practice for carbo loading is to start a few days before race day, and eat about 4.5 to 5.5 grams of carbohydrates per each pound of weight. A few days before race day, it gives your body enough time to absorb the energy. Studies show that carbo loading the right way means it’s less likely for you to hit the wall, which can transform how you run your race on marathon day.
What foods should you eat?
Instead of all the bread, pastas and everything in between, focus on foods that offer GOOD carbs. Your body will be able to use and store these more efficiently and they will support your run even better. Some of my favorite ones include:
- Bananas (low in fiber, high in carbs and nutrients)
- Brown rice (include other vitamins and nutrients, and are also absorbed more slowly)
- Lowfat yogurt (not Greek yogurt, which is low in carbs, and also look for one with low sugar content)
- Oatmeal (easy breakfast FULL of carbs)
- Whole wheat pasta + tomato sauce (look for whole wheat and don’t overstuff yourself!)
I also recommend that you test these foods if you are using them to carb load for an upcoming race… give your body a chance to have them and see how it reacts when you go for a run. Use it as part of your training program to make sure that you keeping your body happy on the nutritional side on race day too. I’ve tried new foods the night before a race and sometimes it works out well, and sometimes it doesn’t. No sense in wasting months of training on a poor food decision (because it sucks).
What’s your favorite carb? Do you carb load before a race?
What do you eat the night before a race?
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