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  • Writer's pictureJessica Jones

All. The. Carbs.

This seems like a good point to talk about “carb loading”. Why? Well, I talked about what to eat, how to fuel, during a run. It’s a critical part of good running. Good meaning reaching goal times, and not feeling like you are going to die. I’ve also talked a about my thoughts on general nutrition. For runners, endurance runners in particular, there’s a third aspect to nutrition. Really. I’m not making this up just because I love food. Though, I do.

We all know that distance runners love to scarf down mounds of pasta the night before a big race, right? The stereotypical carb load. For me, lasagna is my favorite! Nutritionists focused on endurance athletes, have realized dinner the night before is not enough to really fill your carb stores. That should just be to top it off. You need days of carb loading. That’s right. Days. Two to three is a general recommendation. What does that mean? For a few days before a race, I throw out all the thoughts about “good eating”. This is time to focus on refined carbs. Fuel that is easy for the body to store. The exact opposite of what you want on a routine basis.

Not only are the few days before a race carb loading days, but it seems to matter what type of carbs. At least for me. My go-to foods are bagels (with peanut butter or honey), pretzels, gummy bears, Gatorade, and Coke. Of course, I float in some “real meals”. As much as I love refined carbs, it is very difficult to eat a meal that is truly focused on carbs. Most have a good amount of fat and/or protein. Evidence suggests that while taking in fat or protein in these pre-race days won’t hurt anything, they’re calories that aren’t helping. This is a big deal for me because I can only eat so much. Granted, it’s a lot sometimes. But, if I eat too much the day before a race, I feel heavy. What I call a food hangover. So, it’s a delicate balance.

Avoiding fiber, either in carb form (whole grain breads, etc.) or vegetables during these days is recommended. Don’t want any unnecessary “pit stops” during the race. As I alluded to above, this is the one time of the training cycle when highly processed and refined carbs are good. They are already broken down. Easier for your body to convert to pure glycogen for storage. Glycogen is the main fuel for your muscles during a run, or any exercise. The easiest for your body to use. It’s what is commonly believed run out of to give that feeling of “hitting the wall”. (Though there is some debate about that in the sports science world). So, you want those glycogen stores as full as possible when you reach that starring line. Then, the in-run fueling I talked about before is just topping off the tank.

I continue to play around with what is best for me. You’ll have to experiment with what is best for you. And remember, as you change, as your fitness changes, your optimal fueling strategy may as well. It certainly has for me. All of it. General nutrition, carb-loading, and in-race fueling. I think this will become even more critical as I move forward to an ultramarathon (50miler planned in January). And my ultimate goal of the World Marathon Challenge. Seven consecutive days of marathons will certainly require a well-fueled body! For now, I’ll continue to snack on. I’ve my go eye on some lasagna tonight, and marathon number 25 in the morning!

Training Log July 16-22, 2018: Planned 40 miles. By feel, except speed day of 10x0.25. 32 miles.

Monday – OFF. Recovery from Sunday’s long, hot run.

Tuesday – 6.1mi @ 8:48. Nice, smooth progression run. Felt OK, even with the incredible humidity.

Wednesday – 7.5mi. Speed work for the first time in a long time. 10x 0.25mi with 0.25 walk/jog rest. Felt pretty good. Repeats between 1:36-1:40.

Stability: 20x knee crunches, 12xadductor leg raises, 20x leg cross-overs, 12x knee tucks, 10x discus-thrower, 12x leg swings, 10x standing hurdles, 10x side leg raises

Thursday – 5.0mi @ 8:33. Another comfortable speed-up/progression run.

Friday – 10.0mi @ 8:56. Felt pretty good. Legs a little heavy the last few miles, so will cut back over the weekend to “taper” for Tuesday’s marathon.

Saturday – 4.5mi @ 9:02. Nice and easy shakeout. Legs feel okay.

Sunday – OFF. Traveling back to Salt Lake City. Deseret News Marathon on Tuesday!

Until next week, or so.

Own it. Live it. Be it.

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