Does Carb Loading Make You Run Faster?

Prior to bodybuilding (and children) I used to run marathons, which is pretty funny considering my favorite saying used to be, “The only way you’ll see me run is if you put a lion behind me.”  All that changed when my dad got cancer.

After he was diagnosed I ran a 5k and put his name on my bib number.  I sent it to him and said, “I’m running for you.”  He died in 2004.  Then I started running marathons for him.  You can read more about it here:  Why I Run Marathons.

In typical fashion, I did no research whatsoever before deciding to run a marathon, but I heard as a runner you get to eat a lot of pasta so I said, “I’m in.”  My question/hope was:  “Will eating tons of pasta make me faster?  If so, this is my dream sport!”

Answer:  Not so much.  Carbohydrate loading (also called glycogen loading) improves endurance performance, but the key word there is endurance.  The extra glycogen does not let you run faster during the race; it does allow you to maintain your pace for a longer duration.

Nike Marathon with Henri

Nike Women’s Marathon with Henri

If you are interested in running for a good cause, I highly recommend checking out Team In Training.  I’ve run four marathons with them so far:  Los Angeles Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, Rock ‘N’ Roll San Diego, and the Nike Women’s in San Francisco.  Team In Training trains you for endurance sports and in exchange you raise money for cancer research.  To date I’ve raised over $100,000 for them, being named Top 3 Fundraiser in the nation for two of the four marathons.  I ran because I hate cancer and I miss my dad.

Lisa ;) (c) 2013 Lisa Traugott.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this blog, including any text, photographs, and artwork, may be reproduced or copied without written permission.

11 responses to “Does Carb Loading Make You Run Faster?

  1. I think I already told you my story about not preparation. I went to my first tri and looked all around for the freaking lake. I knew there had to be a lake, right? We couldn’t possibly be swimming in the dirty Thames, right? Right? Tell me I am right? Total panic. Anyway thought that would make you feel better. In the meantime, I agree. I don’t carbo load. I don’t think it helps.

  2. A greatly misunderstood concept in my opinion. Not that I’m an expert, however I have done a few long distance kayak races over 100 kilometres and 12 hours and just before the race I have seen people chomping on big bowls of pasta.

    All I can ever think is how bloated they must feel, and it must weigh on performance. Carb loading is in the lead-up and doesn’t require as much as often thought!

    And a great cause you are running for!

  3. I have a 7k in 3 weeks. I’m not much of a runner (I can and am pretty decent for someone who doesn’t run) and I’m on very few carbs right now. Any tips for loading before a race to ensure proper fuel? I know it’s not that far, but it’s about 3 miles longer than I’d prefer. LOL

    • Enjoy a pasta dinner the night before (but stay away from cream sauces.) Have you tried Gu? You can buy them at running shoe stores and even some grocery stores. They give you an instant boost of energy. Try one now, before the race, to see how your body reacts to it and which flavors you like. Personally, I like the berry ones best because even though chocolate tastes better it makes my mouth dry. Can’t wait to hear about the race!

  4. Pingback: Half Marathon Training update | Kween·

  5. Pingback: Tips to prep for your next race | DrivenFitness·

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