Before I began the process of carbohydrate depletion and loading I wrote a post about it. I promised I would write my thoughts and review but thinking about it I don’t have a lot to compare it too. I’ve only run one marathon and during that marathon I still hit a wall and hit it hard. That being said I will still review my thoughts. I left my diet and nutrition to simmer for a week because I wanted a little bit more time to recover and think about it. Though I cannot really say my diet this week is anything to blog about…
Carbohydrate depletion (Sunday-Tuesday).
From Sunday through Tuesday, I focused on having minimal carbohydrates. I wasn’t strict about it but instead of having pancakes for breakfast, I opted for eggs. Instead of having a sandwich for lunch I opted for a protein rich salad. I made little choices. I didn’t severely limit my carbohydrates and I didn’t limit my calorie intake at all I opted to chose protein and fat rich food versus carbohydrate rich food.
Wednesday was a normal day for me as I transitioned into carbohydrate loading.
Carbohydrate loading Thursday-Saturday.
This was about the complete opposite. I consumed no salads and minimal vegetables. Since I am not a fan of pasta I lived off of a lot of diner pancakes while traveling and a lot of rice and bread at home. I didn’t find it too difficult but I did notice with just having more carbohydrates and less fat and protein I was a lot more hungry all the time. I have a feeling with my drop of exercise, I overate but I was hungry and I would rather not be hungry at the starting line.
During the process thoughts:
Since we were traveling and the diner pancakes were good (ha), I didn’t find carbohydrate loading as hard as I thought it would. For someone who prefers a 1 pound steak versus a big bowl of pasta I thought that would be my biggest struggle. When I was carbohydrate loading I was constantly hungry and thirsty. I held about 5 additional pounds of water weight. (If you don’t hold water weight you aren’t doing it right).
I will say holding that additional water weight made me a little bit nervous but I knew it was for solid preparation.
I felt like I had a lot of energy but I did not feel like I had an amazing energy boost. The combination of being up at 3:50 and the race not starting until 9:40 made for a long morning already. I consumed pancakes at 4:00am and also a bagel at 7:30am. (I had roughly 800 calories before the start). Then I had a gel at mile 8, 14 and 20. (I had Gatorade at mile markers not directly before the mile I had a gel).
Would I try it again?
To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure. I am comparing oranges to apples but I have run my fastest half marathons on not carbohydrate loading and eating normally. My dinner before any of my half marathon PRs has been a salmon salad from various restaurants (each time I know has had about 600-700 calories. I like my dressing. I have a more indepth list that will qualify it for a good prerace salad then qualifying gas station coffee). That isn’t to say I don’t consume a lot of carbohydrates (or cut calories) but I do have a lot more protein normally. Another point of interest was that my body was not used to eating that many carbohydrates. Due to a rare medical condition that my body fails to absorb sugars correctly, this probably came as a shock. Since the primary factor keeping me at a normal blood glucose level is lifestyle choices (IE diet and exercise) I should have known that it wouldn’t work as well but I tried. It was a lesson I would rather learn on my first marathon then 10th. When I did change my diet to 80% carbohydrates, looking back I know my body didn’t absorb it all. It honestly was a bit upsetting because for the last year I have felt normal (it hasn’t really effected much training so it’s unnecessary to talk about) but this was a reality check.
Next marathon, I think I will try something different. I am going to eat closer to my normal meals until closer to the marathon (2 days before) and then eat a lot more carbohydrate rich food and see how my body reacts. I thought my glycogen stores were full during the race but looking back I’m not entirely sure. I think now I was completely depleted of energy at mile 20. While that could have been a combination of a late start, no speed work, my body not used to running that quickly for 2 hours but it also was probably from a not having my storage completely full.
After looking back at nutrition I will be making a lot more changes before my next marathon. I’m hoping to find a marathon that does not require a lot of travel or that I could stay at a friends or my family (not really possible my family since I don’t want to do the Shamrock full or the Norfolk Freedom full…) house to prepare food that I know will work better for me. I think finding a marathon closer to home where I don’t have to be up and awake 6 hours prior and provide me a easier race logistic wise.
Questions for you:
Have you ever carb loaded for a race?