I mean, exactly how many carbs is a marathon runner supposed to ingest in the three days leading up to race day? From the research I have scoured through online, it's a tricky question that's loaded with caveats. After spending a good amount of time on looking into several approaches, here is what I have come down to:
- Carb loading is very specific to the individual athlete. What works for you may not work well for me at all. While the general consensus is that on the 3rd day pre-race, your goal should be to consume about 40% of your total caloric intake via carbs. Two days out should see your intake at around 50% of your total calories. The day before your marathon should see nearly 70% of calories coming from complex carbohydrates. The common theme is that potatoes, rice, pasta and fruits are your best friends in the days leading up to the event.
- Fat consumption (snack foods, processed meals, etc.) should be strictly limited in the week before the race. They provide very little in terms of nutritional benefit and are laden (typically, anyway) with fats and preservatives.
- Drink water, more water, and even more water. The process of building up your glycogen stores (both in your muscle tissue and liver alike) is accomplished by the body's intake and processing of carbohydrates. The metabolism of these carbs is GREATLY enhanced in the presence of proper hydration. In other words guys, drink water in abundance in the week before your event. Enough can't be said about the need to step to the Start line fully hydrated.
- Consume your pre-race (race morning) meal at around 3 hours before Start. This will help rebuild the glycogen depletion that occurred during the sleeping hours. Also, drink at least 24 ounces of electrolyte replacement fluid of your choice up until 2 hours before the start of the race. This will give your body ample time to hydrate itself completely, and flush any remaining fluids from your system.
Whether my race is a success or not, I'll let you know here.