Glycogen Loading: Pre-Race Rituals for Entering the Carb Kingdom

There was a thread in the Cross Crusades forums last week about pre-race nutrition. I neglected to chime in, but I thought I’d share my nutritional preparation strategies here.

My diet is typically about 30% carbs, 30% fat, and 40% protein. If you know your macronutrients well, you’ll notice that it’s a pretty low-carb plan. I’ve tweaked the ratio several times over the past years, but I’ve found that this works pretty well for me, leaving me with enough energy for my workouts but allowing me to stay lean and support and build muscle structure.

Eating for ‘cross races demands something a little different.

Cue to the glycogen load.

Dinner pre-cross race always contains some form of complex carbohydrate that I usually don’t get to indulge in. I add a heap of wheat pasta or brown rice to my usual dinner of lean protein and leafy greens. Since I don’t race until 1:00pm on Sunday, race day nutrition is even more important for me.

Sal and I usually wake up around 5:00 or 6:00am, begin packing up the truck, and eat a breakfast of steel-cut oats and eggs. Sal’s race is a little earlier than mine is (11:00am) and recently he’s found that the oatmeal is a little too heavy, so this morning he kicked out some buckwheat pancakes (or, as he says, “butt-wheat”).

Since we ate today at 5:30am, I’ll have another meal at 8:30am (probably a peanut butter and sugar-free jelly sandwich or engergy bar, depending on how my stomach feels), and then I’ll eat again at 11:30am (just easily digested energy products like Gu Energy Gel, Hammer Gel, or Clif Blocks.

I’ll eat twice more, once about 30 minutes in front of my race (Gu) and then probably 2 or 3 Clif Blocks on the start line before the gun.

Because my body isn’t used to getting this kind of glycogen all the time, topping off my liver this way really gives me the punch I need to go balls out for 45 minutes (plus one lap!)

Now… it’s time for Horning’s Hideout!  Bring the hills!!!

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2 comments

  1. Heidi! great job today…you killed it! yeahhhhhhh!

  2. I attended a bike-club presentation on nutrition some months ago, and the nutritionist had put pre-ride nutrition into a formula to be used as a guideline:
    1 gram of carb per kilo of bodyweight, per hour before event start.
    According to her example, a 140 lb. woman would consume the following, if eating 2 hrs. before the start of a ride:
    140 lbs / 2.2 (lbs per kilogram) = 64 kg
    64 kg x 2 (hrs) = 128 grams carbohydrate.
    YMMV.

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