• Helen Phillips

Critical carb loading

If you're in training for a spring marathon, have you been carb loading since Christmas?

Running a marathon your body will be burning both fat and carbohydrates to power you around.

Despite your valiant pasta pigging habits, your body only has enough capacity to store enough carbs to get you to about 10 miles in your race.

To get you around your marathon you'll 'top up' your carbs by 'eating' gels, jelly babies, jam sandwiches and blocks on your long runs. But it's also a good idea to arrive at the start line topped up with fuel ... and that's where carb loading comes in.

The aim of carb loading is to load up your muscles with glycogen (glycogen is how the body stores carbs), which will be available to burn for energy to fuel your marathon.

Lots of new marathon runners get carb loading completely wrong.

I've trained for and ran 13 marathons and made every mistake in the book, but I've learned a lot along the way. Keep reading if you want Cheesecake Runner's Critical Carb Loading tips.

There's a myth that you need to start piling up your plate and loading up your body with carbohydrate weeks before race day. But that could lead you to feeling sluggish, bloated and fat.

If you over eat carbs, eat too much food and calories, when you're not exercising as much through marathon taper the calories you don't burn will be converted into fat. It's simple maths!

Calories in > Calories Burned = Increase in Body Fat

Rather than 'eating all the food'. a better approach towards carb loading is to switch to higher carbohydrate meals rather than eating masses of carbs on top of your normal meals.

Eating double ahead of your marathon could leave you feeling uncomfortable and bloated.

You also don't need to start 'carb loading' too early. All the experts recommend that you start to switch to a higher carb diet from the Thursday before your marathon. Switching to carbs too early and you could end up feeling bloated, miserable and full before your race.

But carbs make me bloated and fat

Let me explain. Glycogen, the form of carbohydrate that's stored in your body is stored alongside water. So when you load your body with carbohydrate you also cause your body to store more water, and this can lead you to put on weight and start to feel bloated. But don't stress. The excess weight you put on race week isn't fat, it's down to the additional water that your body has stored. And that water will be released, hydrating you, once you burn your stored glycogen running your race.

If you're running a marathon this spring and you're terrified about taper, confused about carb loading and nervous about the day join my Prepare to Run Your Marathon group coaching calls. I'll be holding these call through March and April, timed to get you ready and prepared to run your spring race.

Click here to save your spot.

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