After I completed my last training plan in January I started my new plan in February after recovering from the 50 mile ultra. However, I included something extra that was not included in my past training plans. That’s right. Lately I have stopped taking in carbs before and during long runs, including sports drinks with carbs. (I am sticking to water and electrolytes.) Many of you may think this is crazy, and I know some are astonished by it, but hear me out.
I read in an article at McMillan Running that stated there is a benefit to endurance on long runs if we training the body to optimize usage of carbs and fat burned while on the run. Most of us have become accustomed to fueling on our long training runs, so this should not be done as a crash but should be done slowly. On each long run intake less and less carbs before and during until you are able to eliminate them. (This is for training run times between 2 and 3 hours, and not competition. I always carry a gel with me just in case I run into trouble while on the run.)
The thinking is that your body will become better at using the energy it has, and less dependant on fuel during the run. Thereby boosting stamina and endurance, as your body uses the glycogen and fat stores it already has. Meanwhile this also trains your muscles to run through fatigue that will happen during those longer runs, and help you build up resilience for the race.
To optimize glycogen stores I DO make sure to carbo-load immediately after all of my runs. Many people seem to carbo-load only a few days prior to the marathon, but this is thought to be wrong by many nutritionists. Sure there is a benefit to loading the night before to ensure your pre-race day nutrition is good. However, loading a few days before the race does nothing to increase your stores. It takes weeks, not days, to train your system to boost the glycogen stores. Your body rebuilds the glycogen stores after each run, because you used them during the training runs. So you need to feed the body what it needs immediately after the training runs. It has been proven that the first hour after a workout is when your body is like a sponge and ready to absorb at a HIGHER rate than later. (This includes protein as well as carbs, so is also the best time to take in some protein.)
OK, now I am done. Everyone feel free to pounce on this topic, but realize that I am not saying that this approach is for everyone. Further, I am not saying that it is necessary. However, it is the approach that I am trying based on some of my reading. I will inform later if I actually benefit from it.
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