Loading up on carbs before a marathon race is important. But it is not simply having a gigantic portion of pasta or other carbs, the night before your race.
Choose the right type of carbs
Choose carbs that are low in fibre and easy for the body to digest. These include white rice and noodles, pasta, as well as toast, bagels, pancakes, waffles and oatmeal.
However, try and avoid fruits because even though these have sugars that convert to glucose and then glycogen, the skin contains fibre that is hard for the body to digest so they may cause stomach problems during the race. But bananas contain easy-to-digest carbs and are low in fibre, though.
Stay away from high-fat carbs
As well, stay away from carbs that contain oil and fats, including butter and cheese. These include the delicious char kway teow and fried Hokkien mee from our local food stalls. Pasta with butter and cheese sauces should also be avoided, because fats take longer to digest and may also result in stomach problems during the race.
Instead, try to substitute these higher-fat foods for alternatives whenever you can. For example, instead of fried kway teow or fried mee, go for them in soup form. Instead of fried rice, have porridge. And try using jam rather than butter or margarine on your toast.
Begin carbo-loading about two or three days before your race
Don’t carbo-load the night just before your race. Instead, do so about two or three days prior to the big day. Your muscles definitely won’t be able to store enough glycogen from one meal, even if you are eating a huge meal of carbs.
Carbo-loading two or three days before your race is logical, because whenever you take in carbs, your body will store the glycogen in muscle cells and slowly accumulate there. About 85 to 90 per cent of your food intake should come from carbs during this period.
Remember though – do not stuff yourself silly with carbs. Try and stick to the same amount of calories that that you normally eat, and just increase the carb portion of your overall meal.
More on Marathon Running
- Are you Ready for Marathon Running
- Training for A Marathon
- Coping with Race Fear and Anxiety
- How To Run Faster
- Run Your Best Marathon Ever
- Running Marathon Tips from Anne Qi Hui