Carbs & Running- Everything you need to know

 How to successfully carbo-load:

What we will cover:
glycogen storages
complex carbs
simple carbs

Glycemic index

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First let’s note the cardinal rule of running:
Never try anything new on race day.

Why Do Runners Carbo-load?

The reason why people ‘carbo-load’ is to restore your glycogen storage levels in the muscles. Glycogen storages get depleted over time during your training. The more you run & the longer you run, the more depleted your glycogen storages are.

How are Glycogen Storages Restored?

When we take rest days and reduce mileage [taper] while maintaining your usual diet, these storages will slowly build back up to normal. To build up glycogen storages more effectively, athletes will increase the ratio of carbohydrates they are consuming 4-7 days before the race. It takes time for the storages to refill to normal, so it is best to span this process out to 4-7 days before the race.

 What is a ‘Glycogen Storage’?

The glycogen storages will NOT make you faster. The glycogen storages only come into play after going over 90 min of activity– for this reason you do NOT need to carbo-load before 5k-10k distance races. Glycogen will help you run longer & race without hitting a ‘wall’/running out of internal fuel during the race (given you run a smart race).

Should I just eat junk food?

The TYPE of carbohydrates you are eating is HUGE. All carbs are NOT created equal. 
Simple carbs and starches break down almost immediately in the blood stream into sugars and do not get stored in your muscles glycogen storages for a later use. 
Complex carbs take longer to break down and are stored in your muscles glycogen stores to get used at a later date when you need them (ie- when you are exercising NOT sitting on the couch tapering)

Simple vs Complex Carbs

When to eat simple carbs:

Simple carbs – take DURING or the race or right before the race or immediately after because they can be utilized right away.
Examples: baked potatoes, Soda, Gatorade, corn, white bread, white pasta, muffin, donughts, cake, candy, chips
Simple Carbs can be found on the race course of ultra marathons because they give your body the fuel it need immediately into the blood stream
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These are things ultra marathons really eat on the course. You might have wondered, “why do they eat junk food when they are running”- now you know!

When to eat complex carbs:

Complex carbs-  you would want to be eating in the week LEADING UP TO the race because they can be stored away from a later use.
 Examples- oatmeal, whole grains/whole wheat anything, sweet potatoes, vegetables, etc
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You can find great recipes for runners in this book Run Fast Eat Slow
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How much should you eat?
You will not be running as much the taper week, so no need to increase the amount of calories you are eating. Rather, focus on getting more calories from complex carb sources. 
I believe in intuitive eating. You should eat when you are hungry. Intuitive eating is best for people who watch their glycemic indexes in food.

What is Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index is essentially how much your blood sugar increases when you eat the food. Foods with a HIGH GI index rapidly increase your blood suagar. Foods with a LOW GI index create a more ‘steady’ blood sugar level.
High GI examples: bagel, donuts, fries, pretzels, candy, dried fruit, white rice, rice cakes, graham crackers, waffles, watermelon
Low GI examples: apple, grapefruit, tomatoes, carrots, lima beans, chikapeas, oatmeal, special k , frosted flakes, lentil soup, banana bread, yogurt, 

GI index – key for weight loss & mood stabilization:

It’s not good to have massive spikes in blood sugar. Blood sugar spikes can cause you to feel hungry, lathergric, irritable, etc.
Feeling hungry when you are NOT actually hungry is the sensation that happens when you eat too many high GI foods throughout the day.
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You should probably try eating things that have Lower glycemic indexes to stabilize your blood sugar throughout the day.

Everything in Moderation:

You can obviously still have treats and indulge. You can still eat high GI foods. Just know that the high GI foods constantly throughout the day lead to huge peaks & dips in blood sugar which can cause you to feel tired, sick, hungry, etc. 

Summary How to Carbo-load 

(spark notes version)
-Stick with complex carbs & low glycemic index foods 3-5 days before the race.
-Simple carbs during and right before the race
-You can certainly have treats during your taper and indulge!
-Just eat with a purpose and know the impact of what you put in your body 🙂
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4 tips to get excited about hard workouts!

Have you ever been ‘runner lazy’?

Runner Lazy: When you want to go on a run but you don’t feel like doing the prescribed workout for the day because it sounds ‘hard’

Here are signs you might be experiencing ‘runner lazy’:

-Have you ever just had a day when you look at your training plan and say to yourself, “I just cannot do that“. 

-Have you ever been on your warm up and felt your legs were heavy and tired- all you can think is “how the heck am I going to do this workout if the warm up feels hard”?

-Have you ever been on your easy run the day before and thought, “there is no way I can do tomorrow’s workout

We have all been there. It is completely normal to feel this way in the middle of training. The key to success is learning how to adjust. I am a realist. Our body is not going to feel 100% every single day. Learning how to listen to your body is super important in running. If you feel like you need a rest day, you should take it. 

There is no secret recipe to run a 18:00 5k or a sub 4:00 marathon. The workouts you see on a training plan or prescribed by a coach are not 100% set in stone. The paces are not set in stone. The mileage is not set in stone

1- “Easing into the workout” means you take the prescribed paces for the workout and tone them down by 10-15 seconds per mile. The end goal of the workout is to get down to “prescribed pace” by the end or second half of the workout. 

Easing in allows you to practice negative splits and will likely save you from ‘bonking’ during the second half of your workout

2- Mix up the location- Changing the location of your run can get your mind mentally fired up. Your brain and body sometimes go into “auto” mode when you do the same routine every day. If you run on the treadmill, maybe try the track. If you run on the track, maybe try a new route on the road.

3- Find a partner- Competition or friendship can help inspire you to finish your workout! If someone is out there running 800 meter repeats with you, you are less likely to leave until you are both done! You don’t need to even run “with” the person. Sometimes it’s just nice to have someone there to hold you accountable and ‘suffer’ with you 🙂

4- Do your workout during a race- This is huge! Race day adrenaline can make you feel unstoppable. Doing a tempo or even intervals during a race is a great source of motivation- nothing like a whole crowd of people cheering you on during a workout