Increase performance pre-race that doesn’t involve training. No we’re not talking about using any dodgy potions, we are talking about carbohydrate loading, or carbo-loading as it’s commonly referred to among trail runners.
While your training has helped to increase your carbohydrate storage capacity, carbo-loading while decreasing your training load will enable you to exploit that full capacity. The average trail runner has enough carbohydrate stored in their body (between the brain, blood, liver and muscles) to fuel them for a trail run of around 1h30 at an easy aerobic pace.
Going harder than this, into the anaerobic zone, means muscle and liver glycogen (carbohydrate for exercise is stored here mainly as glycogen) is burnt at an increased rate, leading to rapidly decreasing energy stores and eventually (once you run out of glycogen) the dreaded “Bonk” or “Hitting the wall” as some like to call it.
Thus the idea behind carbo loading is to try and increase those glycogen stores (mainly in the liver and leg muscles for trail running) in order to have more readily available energy stores to burn. Even for those trail runners that consider themselves fat adapted, there are still instances (like sprinting) where glycogen stores come in handy, so don’t neglect them!
Active.com says that “while the typical athlete has about 80 to 120 mmol glycogen/kg muscle, a carbo-loaded athlete can have about 200 mmol. This is enough to improve endurance by about two to three percent, to say nothing of making the event more enjoyable.” Thus if done right, there is the possibility to store almost twice the energy in your body, meaning you can attack those nasty hills that the Otter Trail Run is known for with gusto!
In this case doing it right means carbo-loading from around 3 days before the Otter Classic Trail Run. During this three day-period before Otter race day, your carbohydrate intake should increase to 70 to 80 percent of your total daily caloric intake. That doesn’t mean you’re taking in more calories, it just means that of the calories you’re taking in, roughly 70 to 80 percent need to be comprised of carbohydrates.
Now there are a myriad of foods to use when carbo-loading, but some like many of the starches, contain loads of fiber that tends to leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Thus we suggest looking at GU Electrolyte Brew as a convenient and effective way of carbo-loading for the Otter Classic Trail Run. Being a liquid it’s easy to keep sipping it throughout the day where eating may not always be practical, as well as being easier on your stomach than many solids would be.
The Blueberry Pomegranate flavour specifically, also has the added benefit of having double the Sodium content, so it will also help to keep your hydration levels in check before race day. Besides, it tastes so good it makes it easy to get those all important carbs in. GU Electrolyte Brew comes in 35 serving tubs (500ml each) so also makes your carbo-loading a cost-effective process; trail running is expensive enough already!
Be aware, however, that for every gram of carbohydrate the body stores, it also stores around 3 to 5 grams of water, which can lead many trail runners to feel bloated by the end of a three-day loading period, especially when wearing compression gear. Thus, as with anything trail running, trial and error is part of the process. Try and go for a trail run after doing some carbo-loading and see how that works for you, or doesn’t.
We hope this helps to ensure that you are in the best shape you can be come race day.
See you at the Otter!
The GU Team