An alternative to carboloading?

DON JOHN: … eat when I have stomach and wait on no man’s leisure.

Much Ado about Nothing, I, iii

SIR TOBY BELCH: Does not our life consist of the four elements?
SIR ANDREW: Faith, so they say; but I think it rather consists of eating and drinking.

Twelfth Night, II, iii

I don’t like the idea of carboloading. I’ve never actually done it, but it sounds nasty and a really unnatural thing to do to my body.

On the other hand I know I need to do something. The last time I tried to run sub-3 I hit the wall at mile 18.

When I did my ultras I took a GU pack every half hour.

And I ran for 9 and a half hours.

According to my heart rate monitor I burn about than 630 kcal/hour in an ultra. In the last half marathon I burned 710 kcal/hour. I presume a road marathon will burn at a little less than the rate of a road half, somewhere around 700. But it doesn’t seem that different from the burn rate in an ultra.

So I can’t help but wonder if I could manage by eating a GU every 25 minutes or so.

I haven’t seen anything that says that this doesn’t work. On the other hand, it seems so much easier than carboloading that surely it must have been tested before now (OK, they didn’t have GU packs back in the ’60s, but they could have used packs of honey or something like that).

Rusty seems skeptical, though he hasn’t actually said he thinks it will fail.

Does anyone know?

SIR TOBY BELCH: Thou’rt a scholar; let us therefore eat and drink.

Twelfth Night, II, iii


2 Responses to “An alternative to carboloading?”

  1. John Says:

    You carb load naturally every time you do a long run, deplete your reserves and then eat/drink some carbs. At slower paces (like your Ultra pace) with many hours of running it’s really important to eat regularly to keep from running out of fuel and bonking. But because it is a slower pace you also use more of your fat reserves for energy. At marathon pace (especially the time you are shooting for) you pretty much need to rely on the glucose stored in your muscles. The glucose you ingest during the race in the form of liquids and gels goes mainly to your liver which supplies energy for your brain. Taking too many gels may just create havoc to your digestive system which tends to shut down at higher paces. Too many gels and sugar drinks can also interfere with water absorption in the stomach. One gel every 45 minutes in a race is a good rule of thumb (but should be practiced in training). The reason you hit the wall at mile 18 was probably due to running faster than your training prepared you for. You went over an ‘efficiency threshold’ and then burned your glucose at a high rate until it ran out and you bonked. Hope that helps! Good luck at SB!

  2. John Says:

    sorry .. meant to say ‘rely on the glycogen stored in your muscles’. 🙂

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