Chicago sports medicine chiropractor for running injuries

Knowing How to Carb Load Prior to Your Big Race!

Every year, recreational, competitive, and elite athletes will run a 1/2 marathon, full marathon, and IronMan.  The demands required to run these races demand a great deal of proper nutrition to help train for a race.  Sports chiropractors work with athletes not just on their health needs to address any muscle and skeletal injuries sustained during one’s training, but also adequate nutrition to maximize speed, and performance.  The largest obstacle is proper nutrient consumption months leading up to your race and not just the training regimen.

Carb loading is a practice where large quantities of carbohydrates are consumed to prepare for your endurance event but proper consumption is required to achieve the maximum level of performance when running.  It is important to begin carb loading 6 days prior to your race, not 3-4 days, as it commonly practiced.  This is utilized to adapt the body’s metabolic functions to ensure proper breakdown of maximal energy expenditure.  It is necessary to note that carb loading accomplishes 3 elements: 1) it DOES NOT provide extra speed, explosiveness, strength; 2) it DOES provide more endurance while the same pace is maintained through your race, and 3) it is only useful for events lasting >90 minutes.  Also, identifying your VO2Max too helps to determine how much carbohydrate one should consume leading up to your race (it should be noted that determining your VO2Max is a complicated equation that was calculated by Jack Daniels, who wrote, “Conditioning for Distance Running – The Scientific Aspects.”

Beginning on day 6, one should exercise strenuously at 75% of his/her VO2Max for 90 minutes.  Carbohydrates carry a weight of 4g/kg (and 1 kg equals 2.2 lbs) and one should consume your weight in grams of Carbs for days 4-6 (ex. 75 kg (165 lb. Male = 300g Carbohydrate daily).  For days 4 and 5, one needs to decrease their exercise duration and intensity to 40 minutes to 70% of their VO2 Max, but remain eating the same weight in carbs.  However, the next 2 days (days 2 and 3 prior to your race) will see your exercise duration will decrease to 20 minutes, but at a slightly higher VO2Max (75%), but your carb consumption will increase to 10g/kg.  And finally, the day before, one should not exercise and continue to consume carbs to the tune of 10g/kg.  This will ensure maximal absorption and utilization of the various nutrients for your muscles, organs, and tissues to pull the nutrients out of storage so you do not easily fatigue, cramp, or get injured during your run.

When working with a sports chiropractor regarding nutrition, it is important to discuss your goals while training to stay injury free and to ensure proper optimization of your body’s metabolism to achieve success in completing your 1/2 and/or full marathon, or IronMan triathlon.


Lincoln Park Chiropractic Brian Marion DC, CCSP, ART, CKTP

2202 N. Lincoln Ave Suite 1 Chicago, IL 60614

773) 248-2790

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