Carbo Load Before Races


Here’s a primer on why runners should eat pasta, rice, potatoes, or other high-carb foods beginning 2 day before a track meet so your athlete comes to the starting line fully fueled and ready to go.

And don’t forget the water.  Lots and lots and lots of water bottles beginning Friday night…..NO SPORTS DRINKS, NO SODA, NO ENERGY DRINKS….


When you eat a bowl of spaghetti, most of the carbs are stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver. Glycogen is your body’s most easily accessible form of energy, but it’s not the only source. During a race, you burn both glycogen and fat.  But the latter is not as efficient, which means your body has to work harder to convert it into fuel.

When you run out of glycogen during a race, especially the longer races like the 400 meters (1 lap) and 800 meters (2 laps), you hit “the wall.” Your body has to slow down as it turns fat into energy.

You can’t completely fill your muscles with glycogen from just one meal, which is why you should start carbo-loading two or three days before your race.

Choose Wisely
Which carbs should you load up on?  85 to 95 percent of your diet beginning 2 days before the track meet should be carbs.

Tortillas, oatmeal, bread, pancakes, waffles, bagels, yogurt, and juice are all easy-to-digest options. Many fruits are high in carbs but are also high in fiber—and too much can cause stomach trouble midrace. Bananas are a low-fiber choice.  And you can peel apples, peaches, and pears to reduce their fiber content.

Feel free to eat white bread and baked potatoes without the skin since both are easily digested.

Avoid high-fat foods—like creamy sauces, cheese, butter, and oils—as well as too much protein.  They fill you up faster than carbs and take longer to digest.

 Meal Ideas

1 bagel with 2 tablespoons strawberry jam (71 g)
1 medium banana (27 g)
8 ounces fruit yogurt (41 g)
8 ounces orange juice (26 g)

baked potato with 1/4 cup salsa (69 g)
bsourdough roll (40 g)
8 ounces chocolate milk (26 g)
1 large oatmeal cookie (56 g)

Dinner Foods
Sweet Potatoes
Just about any type of bean — Kidney, pinto, black, garbanzo

Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey Granola Bars (29 g)
Clif Bar (42 g)