Carb Loading

You may have heard of carbohydrate-loading (carbo-loading) and many runners presume that they ought to be eating lots of rice, potatoes and pasta before a competition that requires long-distance running endurance. What’s really important though is the type of running event or activity you are about to undertake.

The distance of a run or race will dictate whether carbo-loading is right for you. Here’s a guide to carbo-loading for runners.

If you are competing in a running race that lasts longer than 90 minutes you should aim to eat a high carbohydrate diet that contains eight to ten grams per kilogram bodyweight every day for the three days prior to the event. (5-6g for the first 3 days of the taper week). If you are entering a shorter duration race base your requirements on six to eight grams of carbohydrate per kilogram in the days before the event.

To calculate your total running carbohydrate requirement each day, complete the following equation:

Weight (kg) x carbohydrate requirement = Total carbohydrate requirement per day

For example, if you are 60kg and you are entering a short duration running event, six to eight grams of carbohydrate per kilo bodyweight will be sufficient (as 60 x 7 = 420g per day of carbohydrate).

To put this into context and allow it to aid your running, you will need to know the different carbohydrate contents of some key running-friendly foods:

Bread – 1 slice (thin) 10g; 1 slice (medium) 15g
Potato – Jacket (medium) 50g
Chips – (average portion) 40g
Rice – (medium portion) 45g
Breakfast cereals – Cornflakes (30g portion) 25g
Weetabix – (1 biscuit – 20g) 15g
Porridge – 20g; with milk –160g
Sponge cake – 1 slice 25g
Scone – 25g
Mars Bar – 40g
Banana – 20g
Glass of fruit juice – 15g

For me, for the marathon I’m looking at:

Mon, Tues, Wed: 57 (kg) x 5g = 285g of carbs (first three days of final week)
Thu, Fri, Sat: 57 (kg) x 10g = 570g of carbs in the three days leading up to the marathon.

I never was one for being good at nutrition, so this will be a test for me. I usually just eat what I want… but perhaps I should get more clever about it?

More Info:

Runners World 60 second guide to carb loading
A week before the marathon

The perfect marathon week
Race Day

PS: 570g of carbs…. that’s a hell of a lot of food!!!!

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5 Responses to Carb Loading

  1. Kevin says:

    Brilliant advice Lorn.
    This is the kind of stuff I’m after…I’m doing the Loch Ness Marathon in October and although the weight is falling off ( which has been good, in my case) I’m still not eating smart. I’ve almost cut dairy out of my diet completely – as this is linked to sinus problems and I’ve totally given up chocolate in every shape and form….but still tend to pack too much bread and biscuits into my face.
    I’ve really found that I need to snack away on longer runs…I’m up to two hours at the moment but looking to go further soon….once these eyes settle down.
    I do lose a lot of fluid during exercise and I’m thinking of getting a camel back….is it de rigueur to wear these in a marathon or are they outlawed?…….spot the rookie.

  2. lornpearson says:

    I’ve not seen anyone else in an event wearing a water pack… but I like to wear one for any distance over about 10 – 12 miles / + 1.5 hours. It’s ever since I ran 13 miles without one and about 8 hours later I had the dehydration headache from hell.

    I hate having to rely on leaving a bottle somewhere, or worse…. feeling so thirsty on a run that I wished right there and then that I had some water/fluid. And this way I get to use whatever liquid I want instead of waiting for whatever is at the water stations.

    Some people say the pack will be heavy and slow you down, but I don’t think it does. Plus I’ve lost 11lbs since June, so I’m lighter anyway and can afford to carry 1.5 litres of extra weight. I like my wee the north face thresher one. 😀

    PS: No chocolate? Are you mad? 😛

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