Pre Race Loading

Pre Race carbohydrate loading referred to as "Carb Loading" - is to super-charge your physiology with glycogen (the form that carbohydrate is stored within the body). Carbohydrate is stored in limited supply (about 500g/2,000kCals) in the muscles and liver and is a key fuel for high intensity endurance performance. When your stores run out during exercise, you will ‘bonk’ or ‘hit the wall’, a phenomenon that see’s any hope of a great performance go to the graveyard! If it’s never happened to you, it’s difficult to describe as an experience other than it will probably make you cry! It really is something you will want to avoid at all costs.

Carbohydrate loading isn’t necessarily the appropriate course of action for 1-day events, unless they are particularly long; 1/2 or full ironman, ultra run etc, because it can leave your legs feeling heavy and a bit ‘sparkless’ but multi-day events need to be addressed differently. Putting up with a bit of ‘heavy leg syndrome’ for the first couple of hours of day 1 will be pay off in the long term. Purely and simply, the more carbohydrate you’re carrying going into the race, the easier it will be look after your stores as each day progresses, the better your overall performance will be.

Start to consciously increase your carbohydrate intake 48 hours before the start of your event. Make sure you have a good understanding of what carbohydrate actually is so that you’re consuming the correct foods. We’ve lost count of the number of times someone’s thought they are carb loading on sausages or nuts? Take a look at the foods in the surrounding pictures to get an idea of the kinds of things you should be eating. Your choices need to be high carbohydrate and low fat. Fruit is full of fibre and will keep everything moving through your digestive system, but isn’t very high in carbohydrate calories, so although it should form a part of your carbohydrate loading regime, you will need to hunt for some denser calorie sources too.

For every gram of carbohydrate you consume, your body stores 3 grams of water, so bear this in mind. Whilst you’re travelling, you should be consuming plenty of water anyway, but continue to drink the day before your event too or you won’t store the carbs.

Don’t get too hung up on counting carb grams, just eat ‘a lot’ and if you end up consuming too much, you’ll store a tiny amount of fat as your body looks to store the excess calories, which you’ll burn the next day anyway. Better to have too much than not enough. At the same time, it’s not a bad plan to get an idea of how much carbohydrate there is in various foods so that you make efficient choices during this process.

Take an interest in the nutrients that are in your foods by looking at the packaging when you purchase ingredients and prepared foods or snacks. You’ll begin to get a feel for the amount you’re taking onboard. This habit becomes second nature for people with diabetes, because it’s essential that they bolus with the correct amount of insulin for the carbohydrate consumed. At TORQ, we are very engaged in the area of diabetes management and prevention, so if you do have any questions at all on the subject, please don’t hesitate in contacting us.

As close as you can to 24 hours prior to the start of the event, you will need to perform a single 3-minute flat-out anaerobic interval. Make sure you warm up well, perform the effort and then spin gently whilst consuming a high quality recovery drink. We’re not going to beat about the bush here, use TORQ Recovery Drink. We explain a little later why this is product is head and shoulders above the competition, but this is not a time to be messing around. Invest in the right product and if your personal research uncovers one with better functionality than ours, we’d love you to let us know.

The reason for performing this 3-minute drill is twofold. Firstly, it opens up your muscular neural pathways. You’ve been travelling and sitting around doing very little, so you need to remind your muscles of the worst case scenario for the following day. A high intensity brief drill like this will not cause fatigue, but it will leave your muscles prepared and primed for tomorrow’s effort. Leaving the neural floodgates open so that the last thing your body remembers is going ‘fast’ is an essential part of your pre-race taper. Secondly, the anaerobic effort stimulates the mobilisation of an enzyme called glycogen synthetase and a number of other intracellular processes which help you to store carbohydrate – the amount of carbohydrate burned in the single 3-minute interval will be insignificant compared to the amount it will help you to store.

After consuming your recovery drink, continue to consume high carbohydrate/low fat food sources and drink plenty of fluid. Of course, it goes without saying that in your quest to binge in carbohydrate, don’t forget also to consume 20-25g protein every 3 to 4 hours.

As well as the high carbohydrate foods listed in the table at the top of this page, there are a couple of specialist products available from TORQ that can help this process significantly. We have developed a range of high carbohydrate, low fat meals and breakfasts that you can conveniently fit into your carbo-loading schedule.