So if there’s one thing that I know about trying to complete an Ironman Triathlon (or any race for that matter), it’s not to try anything new that you haven’t tried before, leading up to and during the race. Practice EVERYTHING before trying it on race day.
So with a half-Ironman race this Saturday, I decided to use this week to practice carbohydrate loading. While there are lot’s of opinions and studies that show mixed results as to whether it actually works, I thought I’d give it a try.
So the idea behind carb loading is based on the principle of depleting the body’s muscle glycogen stores, then refueling those stores and relying on increases from an “overcompensation” effect, so that the body stores more glycogen than it would under normal circumstances. The strategy that I’m following combines a period of intense physical activity (my tempo run on Sunday) with a lower percentage of carbohydrate intake over the first three days, followed by a gradual tapering of physical activity and gradual increase in carbohydrates in the three days leading up to the race.
So on Sunday morning, I did the workout, then limited the amount of carbohydrates I consumed the rest of the day. I’m using a website called CalorieCount.com
to keep track of everything that I consume this week. On Sunday, I consumed a total of 2,039 calories (approximate), 713 of which were in the form of protein. My calories from carbs only amounted to 632. The rest was a mix of fats and other vitamins. Monday consisted of an easy workout and then another protein-heavy day (43% of my total calories). Tuesday was another easy workout and still more protein than carbs (33% of my total calories were from protein).
If you’ve ever tried a protein-heavy / low-carb diet, I feel your pain! After just two days of low carb intake I was completely out of energy when I woke up Tuesday morning and I was sluggish and moody all day (very uncommon for me). I also had a hard time finding enough sources of good protein to make up over 700 calories for three days. I ate lots of chicken, pork, fish, and even some protein powder a few times. I can honestly say that after this morning’s tough workout, my body was completely depleted of it’s glycogen stores. Today is Wednesday and I will start to introduce more and more carbs into my diet over the next few days until Friday (day before the race), when 75-80% of my total calories will consists of carbohydrates. I was craving carbs like you wouldn’t believe and the oatmeal I had this morning after my workout was awesome!
Looking forward to eating lots of this over the next few days!
I’ve also consumed between 500 and 1000 calories less per day this week because my training volume has decreased….which has left me pretty hungry before bed. If I continued to eat my normal 2500-3000 daily calories this week, it would only lead to weight gain (I’ll save that for next week!).
So will this strategy lead to a super amount of energy come race day? I’ll let you know in my race report!
5/3/11: Bike – Intervals (18 miles in 1:00:00)
5/4/11: Swim – TrainSmart Group Swim (3000m in 1:09:37)
5/5/11: Brick – Bike (55.47 miles in 2:56:00), Run (7.00 miles in 59:15)
5/6/11: Swim – Easy Swim (1776yd in 32:34)
5/6/11: Weights – Superset Series II – 4 sets
5/8/11 Run – Tempo Run (4.41 miles in 31:52)
5/9/11: Bike – Recovery Ride (17.5 miles in 1:00:01)
5/10/11 Run – Recovery Run (3.58 miles in 29:35)
5/10/11: Swim – Recovery Swim (1200yd in 22:11)
5/11/11: Swim – Speed Work (1300m in 42:13)
5/11/11: Bike – Power Intervals (13 miles in 40:01)