Yesterday I talked about The Week Leading Up To Your Race, and promised that today I’d get into the topics of carbo-loading, dressing for the race, and the importance of sleep before the race.
Let’s start with carbo-loading and whether it’s a myth, or if there’s truth behind the science of it. Carbohydrates (such as pasta, rice, bread) are converted by the body to glycogen and stored in the muscles waiting to provide energy to the body. Fat also provides energy, but it’s not as easily converted as glycogen, so readily available stores of glycogen are important on your long runs and races. Waiting to carbo-load the night before the race is too late and will not maximize the amount of glycogen stored, so you need to start several days before the race. In other words, spread it out over the days leading up to the race and don’t wait to cram the night before your “exam.” Running out of glycogen is what causes you to hit that dreaded wall!
Back in the day, I bought carbo-loading powder that I added to my water starting about four days before the race. Whether or not the powder made any difference, I’m not sure; however, after the first few times of using it and performing well, it became my security blanket. I also always ate pasta (but not too much), the days leading up to, and the night before the race. I love Italian food and my stomach handles it well, so why not have a delicious meal the night before, right?
It’s fun to attend the race’s pre-race carbo-loading parties, but don’t stay out too late or eat too much. Since beer and wine are diuretics, drink them sparingly, or save them for your post-race celebrations!
Before I move on to the next topic, my favorite quote about the subject of carbo-loading came from Bart Yasso at a Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon Expo seminar when he questioned how some runners carbo-load the night before a race, by eating way too much pasta. He went on to say that he suspected these same runners would be “un-carbo-loading in the bushes at the race the next day.”
It’s no secret that I’m a weather junkie and start checking the weather about a week out before an upcoming event. Be a nerd like me and check the weather, you’ll be glad you did! It’s hard to perform at your best if you’re over or under dressed. Most fall races will probably start out cool and warm up as the miles progress. Dressing for the race by wearing layers is the best way to prepare for whatever the day brings. I recommend wearing throw-away outer clothes that you can shed as you warm up. Most races collect the clothing from along the course and donate it to a local charity. More layering tips will be included in tomorrow’s post.
Here’s a fun little pre-race picture in my throw-away finest! I checked my bag, but kept on my lovely attire. Immediately before the race I shed my sweat pants, and about a mile into the race when I warmed up, I tossed my over-sized shirt, and ran the rest of the race in shorts and a short sleeved top.
Finally, let’s talk about sleep the night before the race, or more importantly, the night before, the night before the race. You’ll probably be so excited and keyed up the night before the race that you won’t be able to sleep well. Toss in getting up super early to eat and drive to the race, and that doesn’t leave a lot of time to catch your zzzzzz’s. Two nights before the race you’re more relaxed and more likely to get a good night’s sleep, so go to bed early!
- What’s your favorite food to eat before a race?
- Do you wear throw-away clothes to races or do you wear your nice jacket and then tie it around your waist?
- What’s the earliest you’ve ever gotten up for a race?