Half Marathon–Done! Check! Thoughts, Pre-Race Fuel. . . . Is carb-loading overrated?

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Hey, Hey! Still a bit sore almost three days later and totally miss my ranch house!  These stairs are killing me this weekend, especially carrying kids up and down, arg!  Dang, I swear practically every single race at about mile 9, I say to myself, “This is the LAST half marathon I will do this year, seriously!”  I finish the race and then say, “I think I can do better, I better start training for my next half for the fall this week, ha!”   This year definitely went much better than year last year’s race: my first Dam To Dam.  For some reason after baby number three,  my love for running diminished immensely, probably due to my lack of sleep last year, but now my baby is almost two-years-old and I have started to enjoy running again, ahh! First let me say, this post is not promoting any type of eating pattern but just bringing up a question that I have been thinking about these last couple of months.  I am not a specialized sports dietitian, but I am just using myself as my own personal experiment and trying to find what works best for me.

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Anyway, I think this is my 7th or 8th half marathon and I always seem to follow the same running program, eat the same pre-race breakfast, drink the same drink and carb-load as usual.  This year seems to be a bit different because my goals have changed. I have found that during these training times I tend to put on a couple more pounds, not a big deal but always nice to not have this happen, ya know? You would think I would lose a couple of pounds with the training but not, grr.   What I have found is that my body can actually run just fine on my typical diet consisting of lean meats, fruits, vegetables, some dairy and a sprinkle of whole grains.  During my long runs I am just fine with a couple of Smarties and water.  Seven years ago, I remember shoving down one or two gel packets at mile 6 and eating a granola bar at mile 10, and of course always getting in a good meal the night before of spaghetti and bread sticks.  Is my body adjusting or I am getting smarter at this whole refueling thing?  I also think I give myself a “free eating pass” when I am training too, hmmm . . . .

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Taking in good carbs . . .

During my training program (here the one I followed this year, 20 Week Training Schedule) I have shied away from simple carbs such as crackers and some breads and stuck with whole fresh fruits such as apples and berries and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and no-sugar-added Greek yogurts.  So I am not eliminating carbs I think I am just picking out better sources of carbs during these last couple of months, eh?

What did I eat pre-race?

Well, the night before I ate a bit differently than I have these last months and enjoyed some vegetable pizza, not greasy and loved the crust! I didn’t go crazy with carb-loading but nothing was off limits for me that night including a little bowl of ice cream, wink, wink. 

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In the morning, at the butt crack of dawn I choked down some peanut butter toast and grabbed an iced coffee drink, candy, race bib, phone, head phones and I am out the door, let’s do this, I think?!

I love having an iced coffee to give me a little edge early in morning. Oh and just in case took some meds (immodium (just in case) and aleve (ankle pain))  I felt pretty good during the entire race and came in just 40 seconds after my PR. I clocked in around 1:56, not too bad but always room for improvement! Every race is always an accomplishment and always fun to do, right?! Well, after it is over, it is definitely fun!  I figured out I am one of those weird looking runners with a smile on face when I pass the crowd.  Wanna know why?  Because, it is a mind game, if I smile, then I am happy and keep my mind positive!  I seriously enjoy seeing people on the route cheering with their funny signs, cowbells and cute kids high-fiving!  I always want to say, “more cowbell,”  you know from the SNL skit, makes me laugh just thinking about it!

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So anyway, what do you think about carb-loading? I am sure I will experiment again this fall but as for now this was a great experiment for me and 15% of time, I totally did give myself a “free eating pass” and the other 85% of the time I ate good wholesome, real food!

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