Taper Thoughts: Eat All the Carbs

This week I’ve been working on the carb depletion/carb loading strategy I mentioned in an earlier post. The purpose is to achieve “glycogen supercompensation”, which means that after being depleted, the muscles store even more carbohydrates then they would usually hold (normal glycogen compensation). I’ve been reading a lot about how to avoid hitting the wall, and in addition to fueling during the race, it doesn’t hurt to have as much glycogen as you can physically carry in your muscles on race day to get you to the full distance. Apparently, the only thing limiting the amount of glycogen you can actually hold is the size of your leg muscles.

Looks down at my tiny legs and frowns. Ruh roh.

In the past when carb loading, I just ate extra carbs the day before the race. This time I am trying to be a lot more precise because honestly, I need all the help I can get. I ran a long run, ate very low carb for four days, and am now on day 2 of “eat all the carbs”. Okay, technically I have to take in about 450 grams of carbs each day to properly fill my glycogen for the pace I plan to run in the marathon. How did I come up with that number, you ask? I used this handy dandy Endurance Calculator. Isn’t the internet a wonderful place? I gotta tell ya, after two days of trying to eat at least 400 grams of carbs, I am realizing how much less I had consumed pre-race in the past. Considering that the body apparently only absorbs about 25 grams of carbs per hour, taking in 450 in a day is nearly impossible. I would have to eat 25 grams every hour for 18 hours a day! I am doing my best, but since sleep is still a priority in the days leading up to the marathon, I won’t force myself to stay awake that long. I am also getting sick of carbs. I would love to eat some fruit, but another thing that I learned is that fructose is not easily converted to glycogen by the muscles. I read that AFTER consuming 3 large glasses of apple juice and eating a banana. Whoops.

I’m not sure how much glycogen my tiny legs will actually hold, but I’m going to fill them up as much as I can. I will also be fueling very well on race day, taking in at least 120 calories every hour in the form of cornstarch for the first 3 hours (to cut down on the number of gels), then Gatorade and energy gels every 3-4 miles after that, as much as my stomach cooperates. By the end of the race on Sunday, I will really be looking forward to going back to my low-carb lifestyle!

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