I need a goddamn race but I'm also miserably sick at the moment. I haven't touched the gym in two days and if I don't make it in a few hours, I'll be on day 3. Several folks have peeked at my race calendar and have told me that either I'm incredibly inspiring or bat shit crazy. I don't mind the commentary and these races honestly keep me on my toes. Honestly, half marathons, marathons, obstacle course races and ultras make me the most nervous. Maybe you think it's the anticipation of completing 13, 26 or even 40 miles but it's really about my eating habits. Although I am a classically trained freelance chef, I worry about my eating habits.
People bomb their carb loading routine before race day in so many ways. For my novice runners, cyclists and triathletes, let me shed some personal light on some of the do's and don'ts of carb loading:
WTF is Carb Loading?
Carbohydrate loading, which most people know as carb-loading, is something that us neurotic endurance athletes practice before an endurance heavy event. Ingesting heavy ratios of carbs into our system maximizes the storage of glycogen in our muscles. In short, it helps out our energy levels when on the course for 2, 4 or 6 hours while we're questioning our fragile minds of how did we get out here.
Mistake #1: I Can Eat Whatever The Hell I Want
No the hell you can't, Oompa Loompas. Well, actually you CAN but your body might bitch smack your greatness away on the course. All carbs are not created equal and you might want to lay off the fried foods a bit.
From personal experience, perhaps you should pump your breaks on fiber rich food too unless you like Runner's Trots. Please don't be one of those people who want to try something new a week before race day and wonder why they have doo doo butter running down their legs at mile 6. Shit happens but take the precaution to make sure that it's not you.
Try lean meats, whole grains and potatoes. Fruits are great too but try to pinpoint which ones work well with your stomach. I have people who swear by bananas and others who avoid them like a bill collector calling you from that out of state number.
Mistake #2: But My Atkins/ Juicing/ Don't Touch a Fucking Carb or I'll Assassinate Your Intestines Diet Said No...
Meh, please remember that I'm a blogger, not a nutritionist so take this with a grain of salt. I'm not a fan of trendy diets. Juicing all of my kale doesn't make me feel zen like. Instead, I want to kill everything around me and it doesn't make me tap into my spirituality. For ME, this skipping carbs shit doesn't work.
Do a Google search and everyone on the planet has a different take on it. I have personal trainer buddies who SWEAR that you don't need carbs. Fuck that. I love carbs but I understand and respect my body to know that I need a decent handle on it.
In my opinion, if you have been following something like a Paleo Diet or a high-fat, moderate-protein diet for an extensive amount of time, you may not encounter any problems on the course and this section may not apply to you. On the other hand, if you are someone who is looking to lose weight a week prior to their race, you might have a serious problem on your hands for race day. Sure, I was emotional as hell on my first race but it wasn't because my body was screaming for a sandwich. I'm just saying...
Mistake #3: I'm Going to Start Two Weeks in Advance
Bruh, it's not that deep. Listen Linda, listen! Prep your body for healthier choices if you haven't been the best at it about two weeks in advance. No, I'm not telling you to go on a goddamn diet. I'm suggesting lean meats, vegetables, fruits and a proportionate amount of carbs in your diet. Now here's the kicker: You only need to carb load TWO DAYS before your race. Yup. Sorry to burst that bubble. Wanna have an excuse to be a food connoisseur, maybe three days but I'm not suggesting anything more than that. Oh, by the way, did you know that it's recommended that you burn off the crazy with a killer workout a week prior to your race to intentionally empty out your glycogen stores JUST for your carb-loading to be effective? Check out this article because even I said "no effin way."
Mistake #4: I'm Carb Loading for my 5K & 10K
How do I say this without sounding elitist? Baby, it's not that deep. Carb loading is something that you want to do when you are going for a crazy-insane amount of miles for a long period of time.
Even my foul mouth ass have a conscience so I hope you guys know that I'm not trying to be a jerk in this section but 3.1 - 6.2 miles is not something that I would recommend carb loading for. Realistically, you're looking at being on the course under 2 hours unless you're walking, struggling or maybe your pace is only at a slow walking pace (which I'm seriously not judging harshly about). Carb-loading is essential to endurance athletes performing well over the 90 minute mark.
Mistake #5: If I Don't Carb Load, I'll Fail On The Course
Listen, failing to carb-load is not the end all of your endurance running. Again, I'm not a professional guys. If you are looking for great recipes, I'm your girl but I will not pretend to be a nutritionist. From my experience, I have tested the theory of not carb-loading. Sometimes, I think my adrenaline pushed me through most races. On the other hand, I'm not a sub 4:00 marathoner. I'm certainly a back of the pack runner. Regardless of how much or a lack of carb-loading, I rely on my training heavily. I listen to my body on the course and I know when I should slow down to a speed walk. When I am in need of carbs, I pull out my Honey Stinger gels or chew on things like gummy bears, chocolate or a trail mix on the course.
Have any of you tried carb-loading? How has it worked out for you? Anyone truly against it? Let me know in the inbox or in the comments.