Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Carb Loading for a half marathon

CARB Loading for a half marathon?? (Put in the most simple words possible)

Truth is, it isn’t absolutely necessary to carb load for an event this long BUT from my experience I’ve always run and felt better when I have. Most importantly EVERY ONE IS DIFFERENT so the more experienced you are the more likely you are to know what suits you etc.

First thing you have to do is forget about that devil in your head that’s telling you ‘I’m going to get fat by doing this!’ – You’re NOT!! Instead what you will get is a feeling that your muscles are full of glycogen, fatigued muscles WILL feel better (Injuries won’t ;) and come the day you should be feeling great and with all the training (or lack of J ) done and dusted you will be fully recovered to run for longer before the body want’s refuelling.

The Best approach?

The answer is there isn’t a one size fits all policy with Carb Loading. In fact some people swear its unnecessary and you could argue it is (for a half marathon), especially if you’ve tapered (rested up in the build-up). Though, most of us haven’t got the luxury of being able to do nothing at all in the week building up – We have, jobs, a life and things that just have to be done so from my own experience and trial and errors truly believe carb loading to be a big help on the day.

The method many beginners use is just to eat a hell of a lot the day before. Whereas it will work I’ve found there is a finer margin for error. If you get it wrong, eat too much, eat something that hasn’t agreed with you and you can wake up on the half marathon day feeling sluggish, have gastric problems and all in all just mess up the day. It’s risky, you can get away with it and feel great but if it goes wrong then you feel awful. However, I say ‘awful’, you’ll still get around the course and complete the challenge if your stomach is a little uncomfortable it just won’t be as fast as you wished or as comfortable! If you don’t care about this then by all means just try a big days eating the day before. It might work but don’t say I didn’t give you the heads up.

A more sensible approach is to just eat a steady increase of carbohydrates in the 3-4 days  building up – This is a more sensible approach but again I found it didn’t give me the energy boost I needed. Mainly because some days even without training would become very active just from living your life so all of a sudden a couple days later you’re still tired so haven’t had the benefits of loading up on the carbohydrates.

Though, with this you can adjust by eating according to how active you are so still eating a little more each day, maybe a 100g-150g  extra a day only but for 3-4 days.

Finally, what I’ve learned works best for me (Not everyone) is to cut training out completely after Monday (Providing the run is Sunday) then Tuesday and Wednesday usually involves a serious amount of Carbohydrates – Counting carbs/calories isn’t necessary at all. I simply eat until I can no longer eat anything else for two days. You DO feel bloated and it’s not comfortable on the stomach which is why I do it Tuesday and Wednesday then Thursday becomes a ‘normal’ day eating, just like you would on any other day (No cutting carbs or eating next to nothing just a steady intake, carbohydrates with every meal). 

By Friday you are full of energy, totally recovered from all the training and pretty much just waiting for the day to arrive.  I’d do a run this day maybe 2-3miles with some 30 second intervals at half marathon pace just to wake the legs up after the inactivity. This day would again involve a steady intake of carbs with a tough more than you normally would like an extra couple sandwiches or something.

Saturday then would involve a 2mile run just to stretch out then another day eating like Friday, a good dinner Saturday night but nothing bonkers! Have faith, your body is ready from the huge intake Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sunday – Normal Breakfast!!! Then that’s it we run!!

·         Please note this is just advice/methods I’ve tested and ways I’ve found best suits me it’s not a one way fits all policy.


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