Before last week I was under the impression that carb loading was something that runners did the night before race day. Pasta dinners and all that good stuff. But my nutritionist told me that for carb loading to be effective, it needs start the week before a race.
The goal behind carb loading is to help our body store glycogen. Glycogen is the energy that our body uses to run, derived from carbs. The more glycogen we can store, the more energy that is available to us on race day. We can walk less and run faster.
If we start carb loading the week before a race, our body can be more effective in storing this energy, whereas loading up the night before might be too late. Here is the plan for my final week of training.
- Seven days before my race I will have my last long run. I can run the entire half marathon distance, but after this my training will taper off significantly. I will start consuming a portion of carbs at every meal. (I was previously having carbs in the morning and after training, but not late in the evening. You can see my complete daily nutrition plan here.)
- By five and six and four days before my race, I am only running 5k distances. On day two I run a 2k, and my carb consumption is going up.
- The last two days before my race I don’t do anything. Except for pretty much eat carbs. My nutritionist predicts that this will result in a five pound weight gain for me by race day. He says this is normal and I may feel a little sluggish when I start running, but it will pass.
But I think I can use the time to mentally prepare myself for the race. My goal is to finish in 1:45. My nutritionist predicts it will be more around 1:50, but I’m going to push hard for those five minutes!
In my first half marathon I came in at 2:04 without any help. I didn’t know anything and I had NO nutritional training. I ran the whole thing on only water. Now I’ve had coaching and training and nutritional guidance. My body fat percentage has gone down by about 2-3%, which is a lot on my frame (I’m 5’3).
I haven’t lost weight but I’ve lost fat and built muscle, mostly on my legs and core. A couple of days ago I found new muscle dimples on my abs. Sweet! I’ve also changed my running form and I trust my glycogen stores. The last time I ran two hours I still had energy at the end, so I’m really going to push the speed for 1:45.
About a month ago I got the formula for what I should be drinking during my race. You can find that info here. The only thing that will change when I run a full marathon is the addition of some electrolytes.
Race day nutrition is also important.
MY RACE DAY NUTRITION PLAN
- Fifteen minutes before breakfast: warm water until full.
- Breakfast (two hours before race) is 30g protein, 5-10g fat, and 40g carbs.
- The hour before the race: sips of water and bathroom visit.
- Five minutes before the race: Drink water until full (but not bloated!). It will take my body about 5-15 minutes to absorb this water, and it should essentially function as an extra water bottle in my stomach.
- Fifteen minutes into my race I should begin my “during” drink, which you can see here.
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