A while back I read something that basically told me I should eat as many carbs as I freaking please leading up to a race. At first of course, I thought it was too good to be true. As runners, most of us have read lots of pre-race nutrition theories about depleting carbs and then building them back up days before a race, or eating particular grams of carbs per pound of body weight, etc. This particular article caught my attention because of one simple point:
“[Mid-pack] runners who ate more than seven grams of carbohydrate for every kilogram of body weight (g/kg) ran 13.4 per cent faster than a comparable group of runners who ate fewer carbohydrates but were otherwise identical in terms of age, body mass index, training and marathon experience.” [source]
DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT EVEN MEANS?
A) An average of 13.4% faster than lower carb eaters! That’s significant!
B) It also means I legit probably cannot get enough carbs in the 24 hours before the race. For a 125lb person, for example, that is almost 400g of carbs! To break that down– that is the equivalent to 15 cups of cubed sweet potato! To be consumed in 24 hours! Hahah what! The article suggests that you even drink some of your carbs (eg. Gatorade) and consume energy gels between meals in order to get as many carbs in as possible. Ummm, challenge accepted. AM I RIGHT?
The study also found that only 12% of the 250+ runners were actually taking in enough carbs (by their standards of 7g per kg of body weight)– so chances are you and I are are part of the 88% not getting enough. Another suggested benefit to carb-loading, according to this study, is that those runners who didn’t eat enough carbs pre-race slowed their pace more in the last 6.2k than those who had sufficiently fuelled up.
Common sense tells me that I most certainly should not test this theory right before a race day. I figure I should bust this out before a super long run and see if I feel any different. Another thing to note, is that this study looked at full marathoners, and half marathons don’t always demand enough of the body to require this kind of carb intake. The article indicates that “for most people, carbohydrate stores aren’t depleted until after 90 to 120 minutes of vigorous exercise.” I think I am just slow enough (hah!) for this to apply to me during the last bit of a half as well. It is obviously more applicable to full marathoners, but I still think it is very interesting to note just how important carb intake is for endurance runners in general. I’m glad I came across this information so that I can start implementing these ideas as I increase my mileage over the next few running seasons!
Hardcore carb-loading could be the difference between looking like Lemon post-race and looking like Winslow. HAHA, poor beefy.
I have told all kinds of people about this article, but I never actually send them the source, so I thought a blog post was in order! You can find the original journal article here (although I tried to purchase it and was unsuccessful!) or the Globe and Mail article can be found here.
Have you ever tried carb loading anywhere near this level?
Do you even get my X to the Z XZIBIT meme?
HAPPY LONG WEEKEND FRIENDS! We are off to my parents’ boat with the doggies right after work!