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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Next week is scheduled to be the last peak week of marathon training, capped off with a 24 mile long run.<br><br>
I will not be tapering or racing so in terms of glycogen storage and fuel stores use on the run, it won't be the same result, but I'm wondering if there would be any benefit in a trial carbo-loading session?<br><br>
In the past carbo loading has been uncomfortable at best, both digestion-wise and caused substantial water retention in my lower legs which I suspect (?) contributed to an injury during my last marathon. My calves, ankles, and feet were so swollen that they felt horribly stiff and "hard" in the race, rather than loose and fluid. I spontaneously sprained one puffy foot about an hour in to it, with no prior problems in that area at all.<br><br>
Basically my purpose would be looking to identify foods that I can eat enough of, that don't disturb my GI tract, and do not cause as much water retention.<br><br>
For the past two marathons I followed McMillan's formula of 4g carbs per lb of body weight with decreased proportions of fats and proteins. I ate a lot of oatmeal, bagels, potatoes, pasta, rice, pretzels, fig newtons and crackers with small amounts of lean proteins/good fats. I also increased my hydration, switching from water to Gatorade for a couple days before the race. Even with less fats/proteins that still turns out to be quite a few more calories than I consume in total on the typical day (1500-1800 depending on activity, maybe ~2000ish or more long run day depending on appetite). I guess I am a low-octane fuel type. I definitely felt like those carbo-loading calories weighed me down more than I like, even though I know you are supposed to feel that to a certain extent.<br><br>
Thanks for any thoughts, advice, and food suggestions you might have about this.
 

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I'm definitely NOT a fueling expert, I am like you where I tend to feel weighed down even if I get a breakfast in, which is why I began to eat NO differently than normal before races.<br><br>
I can only say the one and only time that I actually wrote down my caloric intake the day before a marathon, I was surprised at what a struggle it was to get myself over 2000 calories. I was eating constantly. I stopped early in the evening 5:30 and only had half a bagel and a banana in the morning. It worked well for me, no bloat and no running out of fuel. So I think for me, the weighed down feeling was from doing the typical 3 heavy meals. I had about 8 tiny (boring) meals. I negative split the next day for the only second time of my life, which I will attribute to having enough fuel
 

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I think there is value, though I'm not sure one practice session is a good Rx. I've seen roots comment that something he learned was how much he needed to eat to really get a full carb-load, but eating that much is SOO easy to screw up, and that can really hurt you on race day.<br><br>
I know that one rule of thumb is 10g carb / Kg bodyweight. I've heard some people say even higher than that. That is a LOT and can easily get you in trouble if you don't do it right. You might want to think about the practice as a way to inch up the amount of carbs you can take in without getting into trouble. Every time you practice you might be able to add 50-100 cal to the total safely.<br><br>
Things that have helped me: apple cider vinegar shots when the carbload is at its worst, really trying to limit the fiber, dairy, fructose, and sucrose in the carbload, try to time it a little earlier, so I end it 18-24 hrs before the race, then eat light maintenance from there on through.<br><br>
How much sodium and water you take with the carbload is another big thing to dial in. It is very easy to set yourself up for sodium problems the next day if you aren't careful: probably 3-8 pounds of liquid retention will come in with the carbs (mostly in muscle) and if there is no sodium in what you drink you start the race that much more off balance.
 

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Answer to your question: Not any more than normally, unless you plan on running at marathon pace.<br><br>
You're running higher mileage now heading to your peak. If you didn't already consume an adequate amount of carbs, you wouldn't be able to run that volume. You're doing something right, already, with carbs.<br><br>
If your long run is going to be easy pace, you don't need the utmost of glycogen loading to accomplish the run.<br><br>
Its at MP and T-pace where the carb-burning accelerates. (Ever notice hunger after tempo runs?) That's why the importance of carbs is magnified in the marathon race. How often do we get to mile 22 on a good marathon pace? Not many times in life. Its a foriegn situation. Yet we marathoners aspire to go all the way to 26 miles without a slowdown. Fuel matters.<br><br>
I haven't experienced extreme bloating, but I do gain 1-2 pounds in the last week of taper. Backing off mileage can do that.<br><br>
This is a great question. I could opine all day as I too am perpetually curious to what works. Regarding loading, I do think that an attention-to-detail means something, especially in the 48-72 hours prior to race.<br><br>
For us mortals, its not about <b>if</b>, but <b>when</b> a marathon runner will run out of fuel in the race. I agree that there's a direct correlation between one's ability to store maximum glycogen and marathon outcome.<br><br>
I don't know if you have Pfitz <i>Advanced Marathoning</i> but there is a chapter in there on the specifics for marathon fueling. Good starting source of info, for me.<br><br>
As for <i>how</i> to carb load, that's an entirely separate topic. But yeah, its important. If you want to hear how one does it with pasta, pretzels, and beer, we ought to start another thread. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile"><br><br>
Whoa, I'm a blowhard. I suppose I have an increased interest in the science. Having run a few marathons now, and aspiring to coach, I'm interested in conveying topics such as this. I don't think there's a uniform answer and hearing others experience helps to understand. Thanks for asking the question.
 

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Another good topic for a separate thread as it relates to the marathon: Topping-off electrolytes and/or pre-race sodium.<br><br>
Something that's worked for me is to drink a few 32oz Powerades in the last 24 hours before the marathon race, including one in the last hour prior to gun. Its provides energy, fluids to help the glycogen suspension within the muscles, and adequate amount of electrolytes to be ready for the race. Maybe I picked this habit up from ultrarunning, where being topped off for a humid, summer race matters. I won't touch the stuff (Gator or Powerade) in the race, but I do drink it for pre-race.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You all remind me how individual nutrition is. That is why it's so hard to nail down the right amounts and specific foods. It really is a lot of trial and error for each person's body.<br><br>
The only thing I definitely know is no Fig Newtons this time. My gut hated those.<br><br>
So <b>fox-runr</b>, the 8 tiny meals helped you get in enough calories without feeling so heavy? How far apart did you space them -- every 2 hours or so?<br><br><b>Hippo</b>, ugh, 10 g carb/kg for me is 2300+ calories of carbs alone. I would be so stuffed. I like your tip to consume sodium and end the carbo load earlier. How many days out do you start it, then?<br><br><b>roots</b>, I do have the book. Thank you for the reassurance that I am already consuming enough carbs even though my calorie intake sounds low based on energy expenditure. Most days my diet is 55-60% carbs right now.<br><br>
*knock wood* I have actually not run out of fuel in a marathon to date. In the last one I finished, I slowed some at mile 22, but didn't hit the wall by any means. It felt more like my legs didn't have the conditioning to maintain the pace. In one race I actually had a 2 min. negative split. All I had done was eat breakfast, lunch, the same basic pre long run dinner as I had during training and an entire bag of pretzels the day before. Not exactly scientific, but I was shooting for a much more beginning-level (for me) time goal at the time, too.<br><br>
I have not run many marathons yet, and am eager to master this important piece of the puzzle and fuel well but avoid completely puffing up.
 

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SGH- yes, about every 2 hours, I ate bread and bagels and gatorade, and my 5:30 meal was spaghetti. I've never really "overdone" eating. I had one bad experience of eating at 8:00 pm for 6 am start, else I'm an underachiever at eating. (before a race that is, most days I do a great job...too great)<br><br>
Roots- a 32oz an hour before???!!! I'd be making a Paula Radcliffe pit stop. Do you drink alot on training runs? I usually drink 10 oz 10 minutes before the race (which is very difficult logistically sometimes). I have to quit drinking an hour before else there WILL BE a snafu at 6 miles, but I also don't do long runs with fuel (my long runs aren't very long, I quit at 2.5 hours).<br><br>
I think you are onto something with the ignoring gatorade during the run. I'd gotten into the habit of alternating water stops and I now read that that is the worst thing to do. Do you also take large quantities of water at fewer aid stations?? I've had triathletes tell me that you should drink a full water bottle at once and fill your stomach rather than small drinks?????any thoughts?
 

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SGH- yes, about every 2 hours, I ate bread and bagels and gatorade, and my 5:30 meal was spaghetti. I've never really "overdone" eating. I had one bad experience of eating at 8:00 pm for 6 am start, else I'm an underachiever at eating. (before a race that is, most days I do a great job...too great)<br><br>
Roots- a 32oz an hour before???!!! I'd be making a Paula Radcliffe pit stop. Do you drink alot on training runs? I usually drink 10 oz 10 minutes before the race (which is very difficult logistically sometimes). I have to quit drinking an hour before else there WILL BE a snafu at 6 miles, but I also don't do long runs with fuel (my long runs aren't very long, I quit at 2.5 hours).<br><br>
I think you are onto something with the ignoring gatorade during the run. I'd gotten into the habit of alternating water stops and I now read that that is the worst thing to do. Do you also take large quantities of water at fewer aid stations?? I've had triathletes tell me that you should drink a full water bottle at once and fill your stomach rather than small drinks?????any thoughts?
 

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I don't have the luxury of a lot of time, it varies, but for a Sunday marathon I usually start my "taper" on Thurs, and start eating sometime Friday, ad finish by noon on Sat. I try to get in about 1200 gms of carbs and then stop. A box of rice chex, 5 bananas, a bag of pretzels, and a bag of salt-n-vinegar baked potato chips might be a typical day for me. I get super torpid about half way through and vinegar shots really help. I now have pavlovian association and really like the taste of vinegar because of the normal sequence of {feel bad}, {toss down vinegar}, {feel SO much better}
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Last night I went out for Chinese and was starving so made two trips. I was satisfied, not stuffed, after that. Just from that meal my feet and lower legs puffed. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/sad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Sad"> I have a crazy body. Anyway, I've pretty much decided this carbo-loading go round I am going to stick to only foods I normally eat with the addition of pretzels and Gatorade, because I know those are "safe."<br><br>
Interesting. I have always heard to alternate each water stop too with sports drink, then Gu/water. I don't enjoy all the stopping and breaking up the rhythm, but have done it because obviously that's better than dehydration. I'd be curious to hear about the benefits of large quantities vs. frequent stops. I guess that might be another thread, though.<br><br>
Wow. Wow. You are one tough runner. That is a lot of food. I like the taste of, say, rice vinegar or pickle juice, but am not sure about shots.<br><br>
As a side, if you ever come east (Umstead?), please bring me a few bags of baked s & v chips! That's my favorite flavor and I would like to try the baked.
 

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I do this before my Marathons and it has made a big difference.
 

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Hippo-<br><br>
so my obvious question is: does vinegar have that effect on most people, or just you? I've never heard about vinegar. I don't get upset digestion, but I know my DH does and I've heard about people "shutting down" after too many gus.
 

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foxy-<br><br>
There is some science behind vinegar being a glucose dispersal agent. I know I'm not the only one who has noticed the effect. I'll go out on a limb and say that it may require that you're already in the mode of storing glycogen in muscle (and not fat.) In other words, you have a carb-load that is basically working right, but you're just getting a little exhausted from jamming all that stuff in there.<br><br>
Chugging 1/4 cup of vinegar straight may give you a sore throat. I mix it 50/50 with water.<br><br>
One other thing to clarify my earlier comments: the 10+gm/Kg number assumes that you start the carb-load depleted. You're not only filling a completely empty tank, but this is when you get the "overfilling" effect. If your muscles are not depleted when you start, then you only get to "top off" the tank and probably won't get any overfilling. The amount of carbs you can put to use may be less than half as much as what I mentioned.<br><br>
Of course, me giving fox-runr any useful information is kinda silly, given that by the time I finish the race, she's already driven home, cleaned up, and taken a nap. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile">
 

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So you carbo-load for a few days after a depletion run, and then the day before the race you take vinegar when you need to "top it off" with more carbs? And by exhausted, do you really mean "tiredness" from your body trying to digest a brick.<br><br>
Last year, while getting shuttled to my hotel, another female marathoner was complaining how she was so hungry and her coach was on her case for overdoing the carbs. I wanted to reach over and slap her. I wanted to slap her again, two days later, when she passed me at mile 24 when I ran out of fuel. I think I might try vinegar if it can help me get more in.
 

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I was just looking at a medline abstract and lost the link, maybe I'll find it later. It addresses that acetic acid affects some of the biochemistry involving glycogen synthesis. In a controlled experiment with subjects eating lots of carbs, those supplementing vinegar had lower blood sugar levels AND lower insulin levels - it was basically converting the blood sugar to glycogen more quickly.<br><br>
The other nice thing is that even taken daily, vinegar is about the cheapest health supplement around. Make sure you refrigerate after opening though, otherwise it might turn to vinegar. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/biggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy"><br><br>
My experience has been that if I push the limits of a carb load, I feel very sleepy and low energy. It feels like a blood sugar crash (a little) but I doubt that - more like high sugar and insulin levels. A vinegar shot clears this up.<br><br>
As far as digesting a brick, I've never felt that. Getting that stuff through the stomach is pretty easy. As long as I get a moderate amount of fructose/lactose early to top off my liver glycogen (eat something with sucrose or HFCS) I just stick to stuff that is glucose, maltodextrin, or super easily digestible starches. These will just go straight to the blood stream and very quickly - eat a 50 gm bowl of rice crispies and in 30-45 minutes it will be completely gone. Repeat the process and in 8 hours you can easily put 500 gm of carbs down in 8 hours and your stomach is never really full. As it gets going, I stay away from sucrose/fructose/lactose though, their pathway in goes through the liver - much slower.<br><br>
Any residual protein, fat, or fiber will really mess this up though, lets say that those 50 gm of carbs had 5 gm protein and 5 gm fiber along with them (like a whole grain cereal.) Now at the end of the half hour, the carbs may be most of the way to your muscles but the protein and fiber (and any fat) will still be in your tummy. As you shove more food in you sort of get a 24 car pileup - after 4-5 hours you have 25+ grams of each. Thats' similar to a big Denver Omelotte.<br><br>
So I've never really felt like I ate a brick. Then again, I'm a fat Hippo, we know how to eat <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/wink.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I think I have to go back to school and get a degree in carbo loading to do it right.<br><br>
All I do is stuff my face with carbs and try to space out the doses but hit my target grams. Hippo, do you take in any protein or fats during the carbo load?<br><br>
I'd be interested in that vinegar link just out of curiosity.<br><br>
I asked an endurance coach at the OBX Marathon about the alternating fuels at every aid station. He recommended diluting the Gatorade especially if doing gels, too, to make sure it's fully absorbed before a gel is taken to not prevent absorption of that fuel. I forgot to ask about drinking more amounts at stations less frequently. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/sad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Sad">
 

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Very good discussion. Since marathon race week comes around so infrequently, no one is ever over-practiced at the tasks. As a sequel to this thread, I think there's plenty to discuss in regard to "in-race hydration and carb replacement."<br><br>
I cannot imagine drinking vinegar. Not for me.<br><br>
fox-runr- yeah, 32oz was likely overdoing it. Its a habit I picked up for ultras, especially in the summer heat. I do find this practice a good way to top-off the carbs and electrolytes prior to gun.<br><br>
The result in my recent race was that I had to pee in the 8th mile. I lost 45 seconds, but still had a record day. In the past, I've had good marathons where I ran wire-to-wire without a stop. I imagine that I could fine tune the hydration by minimizing the intake. Argh, its all such an fickle science. Change the air temps by 10-20 degrees and the hydration equation becomes a puzzling slide-rule.<br><br>
During training runs longer than an hour, I take a bottle. For long runs, I drink about 20oz water per hour. During the marathon race, I take a cup of water at each stop, either drinking or rinsing the mouth.<br><br>
As posted above, I don't drink the Powerade (or the beverage du jour) during the race. Just water.
 

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I've yet to take a quantitative approach to carb-loading. I've just eaten my normal diet up to race week.<br><br>
Regarding depletion, I've never done one where I eliminate carbs from the diet. I've just eaten normally, and loaded up in the last 48 hours. I have read the science regarding the advantage of the diet-based carb depletion, but I have not yet convinced myself to try it. I like carbs on a daily basis.<br><br>
This past season, I stumbled into a race-week routine that accomodated a good carb-load. I.e. For a Sunday marathon, I did my last quality workout on Wednesday (7 miles, with 3 @ tempo). A carb-depletion run. Burn the carbs up with tempo-pace. Then Thursday eat light. Not carb-starving, but just eat less. Then Friday, I am hungry and ready to start the load in the 48 hours prior to gun. I don't count grams, rather I eat several portions per day. The fluids from the extra Powerade (mentioned above) is the catalyst to deliver it to the muscles as glycogen.<br><br>
Also, if I'm driving to the race, I make some pasta to take for the ride. That way, if dinner is a bust, I've at least had one good serving (prepared by me) on the day before the race. Its a bonus if dinner goes well and I get a second good serving. With a race this important, no detail is spared!<br><br>
In-race fueling ought to be its own thread. FYI, I go into the race knowing I'm comsuming only three things: water, gel, and electrolyte capsule. I get all my necessary carbs/calories from the gel.
 
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