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How to Carb-Load Before the 2015 New York Marathon

How to Carb-Load Before the 2015 New York Marathon

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    Oct 29, 2015   Author : admin

Posted in: DIET

As a runner, you're more than likely aware of the way in which your body uses energy. Since carbs are such a reliable source, many runners will eat pasta and bread before they train or run. Although most runners are aware of their needs, they're less aware of how exactly they should carb-load.

Carbohydrates and Carb-Loading

Yes, carbohydrates are the body's major source of fuel, but carb-loading goes far beyond that. If you're eating a large pasta meal before your race, you're on the right track. Having said that, carb-loading is a systemic practice; it can take weeks to maximise your glycogen storage. During intense exercise, your muscles become depleted of glycogen after approximately 90 minutes. This is why carb-loading is highly effective for anyone running in a marathon or participating in an endurance event. But carb-loading isn't recommended for anyone who’s only running 5-10 km. Why is this? Well, as mentioned, once you take part in continuous exercise for more than 90 minutes the glycogen in your muscles becomes highly depleted. Due to carb-loading, your body is able to tap into extra glycogen so that you don’t hit a wall. However, when you’re running shorter distances carb-loading can actually hinder your performance. You won’t be running long enough to utilise glycogen stores, creating potential muscle heaviness and stiffness.

The Right Way to Carb-Load

Traditionally, tapered training was the prime method, which was accompanied by high consumption of carbohydrates in the weeks leading up to the marathon. However, there are now various options depending on your level of training, the exact event you're participating in and the number of other marathons you plan to run. The following are three options:

Option One: Long Taper Method

This method allows runners to finish their last intense training session up to three weeks before the big run. Once you reach two weeks before the marathon, your training should begin to taper off. While you taper off your training, you need to continue eating extra calories. At this point, you should reduce your fat intake and consume around 3-5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight. Since you won't be training for this tapering time period, your body will begin to build up glycogen in your muscles. If you use this method properly you should be able to double your storage capacity.

Option Two: 6-Day Method

This method recommends depleting your glycogen six days before your race. During this time, you should be running using the same muscles that you would during the marathon – that is, you shouldn’t be sprinting, as you will be pacing yourself throughout the marathon. For the next three days, you should consume a regular mixed diet while focusing on 2-3 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight. The final three days before the marathon you should significantly reduce training or rest altogether. During these three days, consume very little fat and choose foods that will provide you with 4-5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight.

Option Three: Rapid Loading Method

This is the best option if you plan on participating in more running competitions after your marathon. It’s also ideal for athletes who perform better physically without tapering off, or those who haven’t done enough training. Whatever the circumstance, it is most certainly possible to achieve high glycogen storage with the 24-hour loading method. When using this method, athletes perform highly intense exercise 24 hours before their race. Once they’ve completed this intense training session they consume a meal that is high in carbohydrates (5-6 carbohydrates per pound of body weight). Then this diet will continue throughout the day, preparing for the race. During this period before the marathon, reduce both your protein and fat intake.  

The Runner's World 2007 IAAF recommendation for prior to race regime is two- three days of carb-loading. In your case, this would mean increasing your intake as follows:

Breakfast: 1 1/2 cups of cereal with low-fat milk/yogurt with a fruit.
Snack: Fruit with  two slices of bread with peanut butter.
Lunch: 2 sandwiches (4 slices of bread) with any lean protein filling (e.g. chicken, fish, cottage cheese) and a fruit.
Snack: Fruit, with two  slices of bread with peanut butter.
Supper: 1 1/2 cups of rice/pasta/ three potatoes with one cup of peas and one cup of carrots, and some lean meat.
Post training recovery snack: GU/sports drink/white bread.


MYC Diet and Fitness Contributor: Krista Hillis

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