Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Taper Time...only 11 More Days to RNR Marathon

The countdown has begun! For some, this is a time of cutting back on miles in what marathoners refer to as "tapering down" the mileage and allowing the body to repair and store up fuel for the 26.2 mile race.

For me this time around, I think I've been tapering the last month due to calf muscle injury. Now I'm finding myself wanting to increase the miles to regain some lost cardio fitness, but having to resist out of fear I will re-injure my calf muscle. Nonetheless, it is testing my patience and providing extra time to study up on other things like nutrition.

A friend who's new to long distance running recently asked me about "carbo loading", which is something I've never been a fan of...at least not in the way the general public thinks of it as loading up on pasta the night before the race as if it would somehow provide a boost in performance the next day.

What I recommended to my friend was to not change anything. My thinking was that she already had calorie intake sufficient to maintain a substantial training program. If she "tapers" off that mileage the last week before her half marathon and maintains the same diet...her body will have an excess of calories and therefore she'd have plenty of fuel for the body to rebuild and top of her glycogen stores. Because she this was her first half marathon, it was important for her not to introduce anything new. Good news is that on race day her energy level was great and she did awesome.

Recently I read a post by Kim Mueller, a local sports nutrition expert who also happens to be a triathlete and marathon runner. It caught my attention because the subject was carbo loading. In the post, she pushed back on another marathoner who was promoting the "old school" carbo loading technique where you eat a low carb diet for 4 days to completely deplete your glycogen stores, then do 3 days of super high carb diet to supercompensate and boost glycogen storage to considerably higher storage levels than normal.

I liked Kim's post because she pointed out that numerous research studies have since proven there is no need to deplete glycogen stores and there is evidence to show you only need to increase your normal % of carbs in diet by 25% the three days leading up to race day in order to get full benefit of "carbo loading".

With that in mind, I think my advice to my half marathon running friend was just right and for the more experienced runners, following the same advice with the 25% increase in carbs the 3 days leading up to race day should be just what the doctor ordered. Just be sure to eat a small meal the night before the race so you don't have any issues during the race. Cheers!

1 comment:

  1. You gave great advice to your half marathon friend and she really appreciated it! :-)

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