Running in the shadows of the Tetons, one of the most beautiful locations in the nation for the annual Grand Teton Relay, you will experience the beauty of open fields, majestic mountains, and starry skies. After months of dedication and consistent training, the last thing any runner wants is to hit the wall as they near the end of a race. When you're part of a GT Relay team, there is even more pressure to keep the pace so you don't let your team members down. So how do you prevent total depletion through a 200-mile race? Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center has the answer”carbohydrate-loading.
What is Carb-Loading?
The object of carb-loading is to fill your muscles as full as they can be with glycogen (energy). This is done by eating high amounts of carbohydrates and is recommended for endurance events that last longer than 90 minutes. Here's a small sampling of some suggested foods from the experts at our Idaho Falls hospital:
- White bread
- Baked potato without the skin
In addition, there a few things to avoid”fiber and fatty foods being two of them:
- Be careful about eating foods that are high in fiber, or fatty foods, as they will cause stomach cramping and digestion upset during the race.
- Peel apples, peaches, and pears to reduce the fiber content.
- Choose marinara sauce on your pasta instead of Alfredo sauce.
- Pizza is high in carbohydrates, but watch the amount of grease!
How Many Carbs?
In 2009, a British study of 257 London Marathon runners found that “Runners who ate more than seven grams of carbohydrate for every kilogram of body weight (g/kg) ran 13.4 percent faster than a comparable group of runners who ate fewer carbohydrates, but were otherwise identical in terms of age, body mass index, training and marathon experience.” That's approximately four grams for every pound you weigh.
Our experts agree that this may be difficult to achieve for many runners because it is a large amount to consume in a day. It is suggested that you start carb-loading at least 2-3 days before the race.
Since it isn't a good idea to eat 16 cups of spaghetti the night before the race, make sure every meal and snack is full of carbohydrates. Practice following your carb menu a few weeks before your race so you aren't doing anything unfamiliar leading up to the big day.
Carbs provide the fuel your body needs for sustained exercise. When your body runs out of carbohydrate fuel, it starts to work on your fat supply, but that causes your body to slow way down”hence the feeling that you've literally hit a wall. Your training, however, will not let you down if you pack your body full of energy rich carbohydrates. Then it's time to hit the road because there won't be anything else to slow you down!