One of the most important factors in a successful running event or training run (or any endurance sport for that matter) is fueling your body for success. One of the most common ways to prepare for that race day success is a process known as carbo-loading. This is basically loading up on carbs before race day in order to fill your body with the glycogen that it needs for energy during your run. In my experience, this has always been one of the more misunderstood aspects of nutrition for novice and experienced runners alike.
With that in mind, I sat down with author and fitness coach Luke Sniewski to discuss the subject for the Ojio Sport Fitbusters video series.
I recently cut a juice fast short by a day or so in order to make sure I was ready to continue my marathon training, but I knew that three regular meals was hardly enough food to fuel a 17 mile run. Given this fact, I decided to turn my regularly scheduled training run into an experiment in carb depletion, and ultimately a lesson in carbo-loading.
Getting by with a little help from some friends
Carb depletion is what happens when your body runs out of the glycogen it needs to convert into energy. Normally when this happens, a runner is said to be bonking. Bonking is the point at which your body simply refuses to work because it does not have the necessary fuel to operate properly. The visual of bonking can be pretty disturbing, an athlete whose arms and legs refuse to respond properly to the brain’s commands, instead stutter and flail as he or she struggles even to remain standing. This is something that all athletes want to avoid for obvious reasons, but for me, I was curious just how far I could get in a carb depleted state.
For me, all the advanced warnings and encouragements I received were true, Once you get to day 3 of your juice fast, you are home free. I woke up on the morning of the third day and felt good. I wasn’t hungry, my headache from the minor caffeine withdrawals was hardly noticeable, and I didn’t really feel too tired. As predicted, I was doing well. Day 3 for me proceeded much the way the first two days had. I had four juices spaced out across the day starting first thing in the morning and ending around 5pm or so. I made broth for dinner again, only this time I added a tomato and some red cabbage for extra flavor.
I felt like I crossed the threshold from challenging side of the juice fast to the easier, more enjoyable side.