Marathon Runners: Are You Achy and Bloated? Maybe Your Glycogen is Weighting You Down.

Well that my runner friend is just where you want to be this final week before you run your marathon. For months you’ve been teaching those glycogen storing cells in the muscle (and liver) to store more and more carbohydrate in the form of glycogen.  Now they are screaming at you to go for a nice long run or at the very least a short, 10-mile tempo run so they can release their energy to fuel your efforts.  As tempting as it might be, don’t cave.  This is the nature of the taper.

Hold on to your stores because carbohydrate loading when done correctly will postpone fatigue and extend your marathon capacity by up to 20%.  It is no longer recommended that you endure a 3-day depletion phase where you exhaust your stores by radically modifying your diet leaving you fatigued and irritable.   Here’s the current recommendation:

Normal Everyday Training Carbohydrate Recommendations:

  • 6-10 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight
  • Example: 160 pounds/2.2 pounds per kilogram x 6-10 = 435 – 720 grams of carbohydrate

Precompetition Final 3 days, Thursday – Saturday

  • 10-12 grams of carbohydrate/kilogram of body weight
  • Example: 160 pounds/2.2 pounds per kilogram x 10-12 =720 – 875 grams of carbohydrate

Most athletes will need to eat frequently throughout the day during the precompetition phase to consume an adequate amount of carbohydrate and energy.  Pasta, rice, pancakes, cereal, fat free sweets (Twizzlers, Skittles, Fig Newtons) along with carbohydrate rich fluids including sports drinks, low fat chocolate milk and fruit smoothies can help you reach your target.  See my previous post to view food and beverage serving sizes for 25 grams of carbohydrate.

Embrace the stiffness and heaviness that accompanies your taper, your glycogen storage sites have been well prepared!

Categories: Sports Nutrition

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