As I’m doing my final few runs leading up to Sunday’s race, I’ve been asked if I’m “Carbo-Loading” this week. The answer is not really. I’m pretty much sticking to my normal diet, which naturally consists of lots of carbs.
There’s lots of carbo-loading plans out there. They all pretty much start a week before your race. Some tell you to do a long-hard workout one week before your race, then each a high-carbohydrate diet for the week leading up to the race while training lightly.
Others suggest slowly building up the amount of carbs you eat during the week of the race. Then 24 hours before your race, do a short-hard workout, followed by a day of loading up on carbs.
Note that you should increase your carbohydrate intake not by increasing your total caloric intake, but rather by reducing fat and protein intake in an amount that equals or slightly exceeds the amount of carbohydrate you add. Combining less training with more total calories could result in last-minute weight gain that will only slow you down.
When you exercise vigorously almost every day, your body never gets a chance to fully replenish its glycogen stores before the next workout reduces them again. Only after 48 hours of very light training or complete rest are your glycogen levels fully compensated.
Having said all of this, just about every study has shown that carbo-loading in general will enhance race performance only when athletes consume little or no carbohydrates during the race itself. If you do use a sports drink or sports gels/gu’s as fuel during your race–as you should–prior carbo-loading probably will have little to no effect. But it doesn’t hurt to do it anyway.
1.21 mile warm-up at 8:15/mile pace
5 minutes of drills
3 laps (1.21 miles per lap) around the mall a little faster than half-marathon pace
Lap 1: 9:22 (7:44/mile)
Lap 2: 9:26 (7:47/mile)
Lap 3: 9:18 (7:41/mile)
A cool-down lap at around 8:30/mile pace
Total workout: 6.05 miles in 50 minutes (time includes warm-up, drills and cool-down)
Today’s workout ended up being a good confidence boost if nothing else. I felt a little tight during my warm-up lap, but once I got going on my three faster laps, I felt good. Early weather forecast is calling for temperatures in the high 30’s/low 40’s Sunday morning – sounds perfect to me!