The need for carbs

     This whole “eat a lot of carbs” thing is starting to get confusing.  They say eat good carbs (60% of your daily calorie intake), but avoid fiberful foods.  To me a good carb usually has fiber in it.  Am I way off?

In a post many many months ago I mentioned how I’ve been like the basketball player that wears the same socks at every game because I eat the same kind of pizza (BBQ Chicken) every Friday before a long run.  The pizza has a thick white crust (white crust =bad?).  Along with that I’ve been buying RiceWorks chips with sea salt.  So far this meal seems to be cutting it, but I wonder as I’m out there for longer and loonngger if I should be making an adjustment, trying to get in more carbs.     

For breakfast it’s been peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat toast with a banana.  That toast has 3 grams of fiber per slice.  I guess that’s not too bad.

What do you eat before a long run? 

How long before a long run do you pay attention to your carbs?  twenty-four hours before?  12 hours

I’m very curious.  I had asked this on Twitter a couple of weeks ago and didn’t get much response.  One person said he didn’t make any changes because he already ate a diet high in carbohydrates.  Another said that she trys to get in more salt.  I realize there’s really no magic formula, we’re all unique with our needs.  But it helps to read what others experience.

 This week I’m going to be psyching myself up for a whopping 18 miles.  It’s going to take me somewhere just under three and a half hours.  That’s kinda freaky to think about.  So usually I just don’t think about it, and just do it.

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13 thoughts on “The need for carbs

  1. My entire diet is heavy with carbs these days so my pre-long run meal isn’t substantially different from what I eat most days. Usually rice and beans (I love Cuban food) or pasta. The portion for my “last meal” before the run is usually just a little larger. I do know other people that swear by carb loading a day earlier though.

    That chicken pizza looks good.

  2. Sweet potatoes and chicken. I avoid pasta since it makes me sick, and I generally don’t eat bread. The only other refined carb I’d eat is white rice. But in general, only sweet potatoes. And I’d take a pbj with me. I’ve also taken dried fruit and nuts on runs and that works too.

    • Thank you! I had intended on trying sweet potatos, and mine unfortunately went bad. I’m going to buy some again though. I’m with you on the pasta, it just makes me feel heavy.

  3. I have a wheat allergy so cannot touch bread/pasta. I pile on the potatoes, sweet potatoes and rice before a long run. Before a race, such as half marathon/marathon, I’ll amp up my sweet potatoes and rice three days before (meaning I’ll incorporate them into lunch AND dinner). Other than that, I try not to mess too much with my regular diet so my stomach doesn’t freak out during the run (always my worst fear!).

  4. I don’t pay too much attention to my carb intake before my long run. Sure, I may go for slightly more carbs the night before (I won’t have just a salad and some meat), but I don’t have any ingrained diet rituals. With a normal diet, you’ll be able to get to about 2 hours (or more with training) before fueling is an issue.

    Man, that pizza looks good though!

  5. My diet is pretty rich in fibers throughout the week but I cut fibers the day before a longer run or days before a race. Some people can have oatmeal the morning they run 20 miles, I cannot. So, I’ll have the good old big bowl of pasta (not fancy, just pesto and maybe some chicken). Pizza also works. The morning of a long run I have a bagel with PB and Banana. If I go beyond 13 miles I usually take a gel. Where did you get that Pizza?

    • I bring my gels, one per every hour of running. The pizza is from HyVee, it’s a 16 inch for $14.99! Reasonable, they recognize me as the BBQ chicken lady now.

  6. My pre-run morning meal is always organic instant oatmeal and if I’m going further then 21 km I also have a banana.
    On race week I increase my carbs (whole wheat pasta or brown rice) 2 days prior. The day before the race I like to load up on protein as the carbs tend to be to heavy on my belly.
    But I agree with Fitz a good balanced, healthy consistent diet should carry you for a good 2 hours. My Big things is… vegetables vegetables and more vegetables 😉

  7. The main thing you need to do is to learn what works for you. As demonstrated above, we are all different. Getting an ample amount of pre-race fuel is important, but if it causes gastric problems while running, then it didn’t do you much good to load up. Now that you are really extending your runs out, give the carbing a try and see how you react to it during the long run. For me, the only thing that I know works is eating nothing at all before my morning runs or race. I am still experimenting and you will probably do the same. You will not likely consume much, if any, that morning to carry you through a full marathon, so do what you can before the run, then always take in the small drink, electrolytes, and so forth along the way during the event. When it’s over, pig out!

  8. I like pizza as well.

    I never really “carb up” before a long run. As a runner who lives an active lifestyle, carbs are the main source of calories in my diet as it is. I think as long as you are eating sufficient carbs on a daily basis, there is no need to carb up. I have had some of the worst runs of my life after eating pasta for dinner! Lol.

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