FOOOODDD!! Okay, too far.I get a little bit excited when talking about fueling for a half marathon.
Not really just fueling for half marathons, but proper use of food for fuel period! But when you add carbs into that conversation and all bets are off.
Let’s be clear about one thing. Carbs are not the enemy. Overeating is the enemy. But let’s stay on topic here.
There’s a lot of debate on how to fuel for a race and should you carb load, should you not, can you eat fat, is more protein better…. The list goes on. Here are the 3 basics that I use and that I tell my girls to use when carb loading for a race. It’s super simple and actually quite freeing.
Also! At the end of this post, I will have a freebie for you of my 3 favorite carb loading meals to eat the week of a race.
To Carb Load or Not to Carb Load
Ahhh, the great carb load debate. Well, let’s get it cleared up right now, right off the bat. Carb loads matter. Proper carb loading will legitimately give you more energy during your race.
So, how do you properly carb load? Let’s answer that with how to not carb load and to do that,
I’m going to tell you a story.
There was a girl that she was going to run a half marathon (no, this girl isn’t me) but this is a legitimate story.
Back to the story. In the week leading up to the race she ate her normal diet. The night before the race, she did what she thought was the right thing to do and ate a huge bowl of pasta that had a cream sauce. She ate it all and had a small glass of wine.
The next morning she realized that she had more trouble getting up that usual and she didn’t feel as excited about the race as she normally does and her stomach actually hurt a bit.
She went to the race and ran it about 10 minutes slower than her other races she had done before. She also noticed that around mile 4 she actually felt very ill and had to stop and walk for about 5 full minutes.
At the end of the race she wondered what went wrong….
So what actually went wrong?
Let’s start with her week leading up to the race. Her week leading up to the race she ate her normal clean eating diet.
Her carb load didn’t begin until the night before the race and then it was so much at once her body didn’t know what to do with it. Because her body didn’t know what to do with the extra, it just sat in her stomach and hurt her race.
Proper carb loading starts with little bits of extra carbs the full week leading up to the race with actually just a little bit more the night before.
So! The week before the race, start putting extra good carbs into your meals and snacks. This doesn’t mean have extra bags of chips. I mean, come on, chips are awesome but they’re garbage fuel.
You don’t put 87 unleaded into your Ferrari do you? Well, okay nobody here has a Ferrarri, but you get my point. You put the 91 octane in , right? Only the best for your Ferrari.
Same thing goes with your food. Only the best fuel for your body. Which is your Ferrari.
Don’t Fear the Carb
Let’s jump right into this point shall we?
There was a fad diet that went around several years ago and it’s still trickling around still that screamed “all carbs are bad!” and “carbs make you fat!” To which I say, horse manure.
I eat carbs and I’m not fat. Not only that, I weight lift and I’m not stocky. But that’s another post in itself.
Proper complex carbs are vital to your health and your well being. Carbs are bad when they’re simple and full of sugar. Let’s not get into the science of this with the chains and the blah de blah. Okay? Let’s keep it simple.
Good carbs. Eat them. Sweet Potatoes. Extra Veggies. Extra Fruit. Whole Grains. Carbs aren’t the devil. They just aren’t.
Eat More Fat
She said what?? Oh yes, let’s go here. Join me.
This is one that I absolutely love talking about; fats for energy.
In the week leading up to my race, I eat (and recommend for my runner girls) to eat extra good fats.
Here’s how I do it: during the week, I will add in extra avocado into my salad at lunch, and make some homemade guacamole to go with my dinners during the week.
I also will eat more almonds and other nuts in the week leading up to the race as those are great fats as well.
Why the extra good fats?
Well, your carbs are your more immediate energy. When you’re working out, your carbs are more quickly burned up. Hence the proper carb load, right?
When your carbs are all burnt up, which could be mile 6 or it could be mile 9 just depending on how your carb load went, that’s when the extra fats kick in for your energy. Fats are a slower burning energy that are there for you when your carbs run out.
Think of your fats as your afternoon coffee. Your morning cup of amazingness burnt off at 10:00 and it’s now time for the afternoon cup of coffee to get you through the day.
Okay, sometimes my analogies are pretty out there, but you can almost always count on them having to do with either coffee or dogs. I’m predictable like that.
As you can see, fueling for a half marathon isn’t rocket science.
It can actually be quite fun and you can get pretty creative with it. When you’re in this final week before the race, don’t change things up too much, especially the morning of the race.
I recommend that you figure out a morning routine that works for you and practice that morning routine before your morning runs on your training days.
On your training days feel free to switch it up a few times until you find one that works perfectly. I know some girls that eat a full breakfast of eggs and toast with coffee. While for me, I drink Spark and eat a banana with a small bite of peanut butter. Anymore than that and it makes my stomach hurt.
So! Don’t be afraid to play around with your fuel while you’re training and then stick to what you know works the morning of the race.
When you subscribe (free) I will send you my top three favorite meals that I use to fuel the week before a race!
Remember, lighten up and enjoy the process.
Otherwise, how will you ever truly run free?