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Carb Science for Race Week

Many runners have learned the benefits of carbing up the week of a big race.  What many of us haven’t figured out is the right balance of carbs and quantity to keep our bodies and energy levels in good form.

There are two things our bodies use for energy, glycerin and fat.  Glycerin is the easier of the two for your body to convert to energy.  Your body will tell you when you have run out of glycerin and starts converting the more complex fats to energy.  That feeling? The wall…  We have all hit it at one point and a good way to avoid it is to carb up, smoothly and intelligently.  While providing your body and muscles with TONS of glycerin won’t make you faster, it will definitely help you go stronger, longer.

Additionally, loading up the night before a race won’t do much for you, you need to work the system a bit.  To provide plenty of fuel to your body, you should start loading a few days before your race.  One good thing to make habit, don’t try anything new before a race.  Make sure you try all this well in advance of any race to see how your body will react to the change in diet.  My personal recommendation is to try this at least a month in advance, right before a hard training session.

If you are a scale watcher, don’t be the week before a race.  For every gram of stored carbohydrate, you store an extra three grams of water.  A benefit? This also helps with hydration.

Things that are good to eat.

  • Potatoes
  • Tortillas
  • Oatmeal
  • Bread
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles
  • Bagels
  • Yogurt
  • Juice

While fruits are a good option, many of them are high in fiber as well as carbs.  We all know what fiber does… if you don’t, think of being “regular”.  Bananas are a good low-fiber choice.  Other fruits, like apples, peaches, pears, can be skinned to reduce the fiber.

My basic meal plan for Spartan Race: Killington Beast

Note: I did vary this a bit, but here is the basic idea.

Breakfast

  • 1 bagel
  • 1 banana
  • 8 ounces greek yogurt
  • Tall Glass of OJ.

Morning Snack

  • 1 Cliff Bar
  • 1 Protein Smoothie

Lunch

  • 1 large baked potato
  • 2 slices of bread
  • 1 glass of Almond Milk
  • 1 serving of oatmeal

Afternoon Snack

  • 1 Clif Bar
  • 1 Protein Smoothie

Dinner

  • 1 piece of grilled chicken sliced and served over rice, corn salsa, and black beans
  • 1 Protein Smoothie

About Joe DiFiglia

Fitness and sport enthusiast. Spartan Race Junky. I have been a martial artist since the age of 4 and addicted to anything challenging. Years of Martial Arts training provides the ability to keep going when my body really wants to quit.

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