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Carb loading and race day; a myth or the truth?

Training for a long-distance race is one thing. Making sure
you fuel appropriately before the race day is another.

Carb loading is a term often used by runners who are about
to complete a marathon, half-marathon or ultra. However, where did it begin and
what does it mean?

In the running world, carb loading refers to the concept of
fuelling up your body with carbs 3-4 days before your big race, in order to
have stored enough energy and run to your best potential on race day.

In the 1970s, the concept of carb loading was common within
the cycling world. However, no one had used it in the running scene – until Dr.
Ron Hill

Being the scientist and pioneer, our founder was, he understood
the science behind it and realised it could also benefit his races. After his big
win in the Athens European Championships in 1969
and considering the influence he had with runners, carb loading soon after
became more popular. However, Dr. Ron experimented a lot with it and would
always try to find the sweet spot and balance. There were times he would get it right, and others he would mess it up, but that was all part of the process to find what worked best.

Over 50 years from then, it is now not a myth but rather a
well-established beneficial way of preparing for a race.



3 key things to watch out for when carb loading:

  • Don't wait for the day before your race to eat carbs. This is a process which needs to begin 3-4 days before your race so your body can adjust and remain balanced.
  • Don’t overeat. The idea is you will slowly implement more carbs on the meals you
    would normally have – not switch your whole diet to carbs.
  • Make sure you hydrate. Sugars and salts are also important while training. Carbohydrates have different ways of transporting into the
    bloodstream. Fructose, glucose, and sucrose are some of the best liquid sources of carbohydrates. Sodium helps with the transportation of glucose, making it an important part of carbohydrate utilization.

Preparing for a big race, is never easy and can be very
nerve wracking. However, remember to not let those nerves get to you! The
training has been done, and now it’s just time to enjoy the race.

We hope this article has provided you with some clarity on
the nutrition side of it. Good luck!