Training Tip Tuesday – Carb Loading?

Spaghetti's a no-no

I’m a newly baptized nutrition nut. I never really cared about what I ate, or how much I ate, or when I ate. I just ate. And I ate whatever. Now, I eat healthier…cleaner…and smarter.

Yeah, I’ve read it all. And I’m still reading it all. There is so much information out there and much of it causes great confusion. Many of us know what works for us. But many of us haven’t a clue. And, the fact of the matter is, yes…everyone is different. Still, for the most part, everyone is exactly the same.

What do I mean? Let’s travel back…oh, perhaps 10,000 years or so. Our ancestors didn’t have a grocery store around the corner where they could trade rocks for bags of potato chips and Special K bars. Nope, they had to catch their food or harvest it themselves. Now, these prehistoric humans weren’t stock-pilers either especially when it came to fresh meat and foods that spoiled. They had to eat them right away and discard the leftovers. Because all the leftovers did was attract animals larger than themselves. They in turn would have to fight them off just to live another day. And that isn’t easy to do on a full belly.

But think for a minute about when they did do their hunting. They were probably already hungry. They more than likely had only what they could find locally in their bellies (i.e. fruits and nuts), and they had to use that as their base of nutrition, and then run for perhaps hours if not days to catch their next chunk of protein.

Born To Run by Christopher McDougall

Born To Run by Christopher McDougall

If you’ve read Born To Run, by Christopher McDougall, you already know what the tribe of the Tarahumara (a tribe of the fastest, most efficient runners) ate before their long runs. I won’t give it away, but I will tell you it wasn’t pasta, laden with butter and cheese, or a big, juicy cheeseburger, or a triple cheese pizza. Nope. All of these foods contain processed ingredients, which in the end will just raise your blood sugar, slow you down, make you cranky, and not provide the long term energy you need to run longer distances at a brisk pace.

Caveman Diet Not

Caveman Diet Not

You have to use common sense when it comes to nutrition. Eat like the caveman. Fruits, leafy vegetables, nuts, and root vegetables can provide all the carbohydrates you need to sustain yourself through a run without all the additives that weigh you down. Eating does not have to be rocket science. It is just a matter of making smart choices. Ixne the bagels, spaghetti, burgers, and pizza and munch on fresh produce and lean, healthy meats. And don’t forget the fats! Coconut oil, avocado, olives, egg yolks, etc. all provide healthy fats to feed your joints and your brain. This will help you run smarter, too!

So, skip the spaghetti dinner the night before a big event. Save your appetite for after the run, when your body needs it most, and will put it to the best use. You will find that this kind of mentality will keep you light on your feet, and make it easier to maintain that dream pace.

Spaghetti's a no-no

Spaghetti’s a no-no


Now, I’ll admit I had to learn this all through experience. One of the worst runs I ever had, I just happened to partake in a pasta dinner the night before with a bunch of girlfriends. I didn’t sleep worth a damn that night, and my performance the following day was sub-par, not to mention the intestinal distress I went through the morning of.

Your best bet the night before your run? Don’t change a thing from what you would normally eat. Start eating smarter today, and you’ll see a difference in your performance. This I can guarantee.


Do you have any horror stories from carbo-loading or are you one of the exceptions?

Disclaimer: These training tips are based on my opinion and what has worked for me. I am not a doctor, or a trainer, or a professional athlete. This blog purely represents observations I have made in my 4 years as a runner. Always consult a medical professional before beginning a running or workout program. I am not liable, either expressly or in an implied manner, nor claim any responsibility for any emotional or physical problems that may occur directly or indirectly from reading this blog.

2 Responses to Training Tip Tuesday – Carb Loading?

  1. For some reason, I handle carbs very well in a digestive sense. I don’t “cargo-load” (which to me, implies chowing down on Olive Garden’s endless pasta bowl), but I will eat pasta or something similar the night before a race. My stomach issues generally stem from other things (for example, I had a little bit of coffee the other morning and it ended very badly). However, in the last few months, it’s been hard to eat pasta and some of the softer carbs like bread and potatoes (my throat is still healing), so I’ve had to change a lot of my food choices to accommodate that challenge. It’s meant that I’m eating more proteins and fresh veggies in my regular diet to make up for what I struggle to eat in the carb-world. That being said, it’s comforting to have a favorite pasta the night before a big race, and I’m ok having that emotional attachment until such time as it negatively impacts me.

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