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Bring On The Carbs

by Meghann on October 26, 2012

When do you start carb loading for a race?

I had a sports dietician tell me at a race expo once that you want to consume the majority of your carbs two days before any long endurance event. So if your race is on a Sunday, you would consume your larger meals on Friday, then start Saturday with a carb-heavy breakfast and taper your meals from there, ending with a light dinner. If you start two days prior, the glycogen will stay in your muscles until you exercise, and the smaller meal the night before prevents stomach issues on race morning.

In my opinion, it’s up to the individual competitor to discover what works for him/her (which usually results in a LOT of trial of error until the right balance is struck). I typically start to go heavier on the carbs two days prior, but I’m also not one to shy away the day before either. My favorite pre-race meal is pizza (I’m pretty sure I’ve had pizza before all of my marathons and major triathlons) that’s light on the cheese. I’ll also favor white bread, which is low in fiber and easier to digest (trust me, you do NOT want a belly full of fiber going into race day!). I’ll stay away from greens and veggies as much as possible (again, fiber is not your friend on race day) and go light on the dairy. Basically my diet becomes bread, bread, and more bread. Oh, and maybe a cupcake thrown in for kicks. 😉

I started my carb loading this morning with a waffle themed breakfast.


These were the last of my stash of homemade pumpkin waffles I had frozen last month. I toasted them this morning before slathering them with almond butter, pumpkin butter, flax seed, and walnuts.


On the side I had a juicy pear.



It’s going to be a busy Friday, hopefully that means it will fly by.

Have a great day everyone!

1 Annette @FitnessPerks October 26, 2012 at 10:26 am

Yummo! Pumpkin waffles! Have fun this weekend 🙂
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2 Sarah @ Blonde Bostonian October 26, 2012 at 10:42 am

I started doing what the dietician told you. If the race is Sunday, my big carb loading meal will be Friday night and I’ll have carbs Saturday morning, but Sunday’s dinner will usually be lighter and involve some protein and a little carb. I also stay away from veggies for a couple days. I did that for my half a few weeks ago and I had zero stomach issues during the race and after. I’m a believer in that school of thought on carbo loading now.
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3 Melissa October 26, 2012 at 10:46 am

Isn’t your race going to be affected by Hurricane Sandy?

4 Meghann October 26, 2012 at 10:53 am

As of right now, it doesn’t look like it. However, I’m not looking forward to that ocean swim. Gulp.

5 Carolyn October 26, 2012 at 10:47 am

Carboloading – the best part of training!
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6 NYC Fit GIrl October 26, 2012 at 11:11 am

Carbloading = the best thing ever! Sometimes I think I only compete to eat the damn carbs! Good Luck this weekend!!
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7 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats October 26, 2012 at 11:13 am

Yay for carbo loading! I head the same when I was marathon training – that I should eat my carbs during the week beforehand, as well as drink tons of water and get a lot of sleep, rather than doing it all the day/night before!
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8 deva at deva by definition October 26, 2012 at 11:39 am

I did my big carby meals two days before my big races this year, because when I’d do them the day before I was in cramp city.
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9 lisa fine October 26, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I usually just focus on carbs for the last three meals before a race. With the two half marathons I ran (and Wine and Dine being at night), I had to really think about how many meals I had to avoid fiber for.

Pizza with light cheese works for me too!
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10 Natalie @ Free Range Human October 26, 2012 at 12:13 pm

This is really interesting. I’ve always wondered how runners do this responsibly. I would probably use it as an excuse to eat a ton of pasta!
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11 Jean October 26, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I had pizza before a half last year because I was out of town and we didn’t have anything else, and I was terrified it was going to wreak havoc on my digestive system. Turns out my stomach felt better than during any other race I’ve ever done! It’s become my go-to pre-race dinner and day-of breakfast.
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12 ce October 26, 2012 at 1:54 pm

A nutritionist came to our running club and explained to us that a week before a race for 4 days (which means if you run on Sunday, the previous Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) you have to avoid carbs and to eat a lot of proteins. Then on Thursday, Friday and Saturday it is carb loading time. I did it a couple of times before big races (my last marathon and half-marathons). The lack of carbs makes me feel sluggish, tired and cranky which is not a good feeling a few days before an important event! It’s called the The Ahlborg Method. I understand the scientific base underneath but I’m not quite sure if it’s worth it… the sides effects are pretty awful.

13 Karen @ Runner Girl Eats October 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm

I’m all about carb loading 2 days before and avoiding fruits/veggies at least 24 hours before just to be sure the belly is good to go 🙂
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14 Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut October 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm

That breakfast looks delish! I can’t wait to carb-load with my bf before the NYC Marathon next week. Even though, heh, I’ll be the one cheering on the sidelines. I hope I spot you!
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15 kim@hungryhealthygirl October 27, 2012 at 7:22 am

Pumpkin waffles are my favorite! I start carb loading a couple of days before a race and always enjoy pasta the night before. Before my last race, I made Paula Deen’s goulash. Yum!
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