One of the great traditions before a big race is the runner’s carb loading the night before.
Most runners eat pasta, rice, potatoes or other high-carb foods before participating in a long-distance event, such as a 10K, half marathon or full marathon. After all, carbs are a great source of energy, and you need a lot of energy to cover those miles.
The act of carb-loading (increasing your intake of carbohydrate-containing foods) essentially increases your muscle-glycogen stores (the fuel tank that resides in your muscles and powers you through a race). When your gylocgen stores are fully stocked, you can run further for longer without hitting the wall.
According to Runner’s World magazine, research has shown that it takes 90 minutes of physical activity for your body to use that stored glycogen, so 5K runners and many 10K runners are not helped by the tradition of card-loading.
For the large majority of half marathoners, however, carb loading can be a big benefit. But what type of carbs should you eat before a race?
Runner’s World says pasta and rice and the to-go carbs for pre-race meals, but it recommends that runners not go overboard with their indulgence because toeing the starting line with a full stomach can lead to stomach-churning problems during the race.
The website WomensRunning.com has a quick and easy pasta recipe that isn’t heavy and is filled with nutritious ingredients. Try it out Saturday night and get energized for the race!
1 box whole-wheat spaghetti
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 rotisserie chicken, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 bag frozen squash, cooked in microwave
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Fresh, flat-leaf Italian parsley, to taste
Salt and pepper
Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Heat wok on low heat with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Sauté garlic until fragrant, then add pasta.
Add the remaining olive oil, salt and pepper, chicken and squash. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese and the parsley throughout.
Let everything cook together for 10 minutes, stirring frequently with tongs. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and add salt and pepper to taste before eating.