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Fueling Up for Fall Races

Posted Sep 16 2010 11:38am

Hello and happy fall!

I could not be happier that fall is finally here. Fall means cooler days and nights, jeans and sweaters, apples and pumpkins aplenty, beautiful foliage, and hot oatmeal.

For Philadelphians, fall also marks the start of race season. Did you know that? The season begins this Sunday with the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon and concludes November 21 with the Philadelphia Marathon. Is anyone participation in either of those races?

This morning while browsing the Food section of the Philadelphia Inquirer this article caught my eye. IMG_5677 Food To Run OnHow to fuel up for fall races? Carbo-loading, though popular, seems ineffective. Balance may be a better course.

Many of you have probably attended a pasta party the night before a half-marathon or marathon, or maybe even a 5 or 10K. Indulging in pasta and bread was always the thing to do the night before a big race, right?

Well according to the article, devouring carbs may not even be necessary.

In the beginning of the article I read that carbo-loading for surplus glycogen (extra energy) helps only if you engage in continuous exercise for more than 90 minutes. Having participated in a pasta party before both of my half marathons, this made me believe that the extra glycogen was needed considering I ran for 115 minutes.

Further along in the article, Althea Zanecosky, a Registered Dietician who has completed three marathons states “if you’re not training for something close to a marathon than carbo loading is probably not necessary.”

But wait a second, I just read that if you engage in activity for more than 90 minutes the extra glycogen is beneficial? I’m confused. One part of the article suggests carbo-loading if you engage in continuous exercise for more than 90 minutes, yet they include a quote from an R.D. who states carbo-loading is only necessary for those running a marathon.

At the end of the article, Zanecosky also shares that “the prerace pasta party has little to negligible nutritional value and is unlikely to boost performance.” This is because whatever is in your glycogen tank was deposited days and weeks before.

While not very clear, the moral of the story seems to be that it is more important to focus on balance when fueling for a race, rather than simply indulging in carbs, and it is essential to incorporate protein into your meals as this is what is needed to repair and rebuild muscle tissue.

Q’s for U-

  1. What are your thoughts on carbo-loading?
  2. Have you ever loaded up on carbs the night before a race?
  3. Will carbo-load for any race, or just “longer” races?


On a completely unrelated note….

This week marks the halfway point of my pregnancy! My 20 week belly.

Baby BF2 weighs about 10 1/2 ounces and is 10 inches long from head to heel, which is about the length of a banana. My diet could definitely use a little more balance (still gagging at veggies and most meats) but I am proud of how well I have been keeping up with my weekly exercise plan .

Next week will be an exciting one as we find out the sex of the baby!

I will be sure to share the news as soon as we find out.

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