Fueling Up For Broad Street: Nutrition Series – Sticking To Your Routine and Carbo-Loading

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Fueling Up for Broad Street: Nutrition Series, Tip #4 Sticking To Your Routine and Carbo-Loading


Hopefully you’ve been following along the past few weeks and have implemented some of my training tips for the Broad Street Run this coming Sunday! Today I am going to talk about one of the most important things that you can do in the few days leading up to the ten mile race (other than fueling your body with balanced breakfasts, hydrating, and planning the timing of your meals carefully!). This tip may come as a surprise since I have suggested some things that may have been changes to your normal routine in the past month: Stick to your routine! For the next few days leading up to the race, my advice is to stick to what you have been doing and are comfortable with.

This is important in regards to sleep, diet, and hydration.  If you have not already increased your water intake, it is definitely important to do so before the race, but not to the point where you are uncomfortable. The same goes for sleep: try to get the amount of sleep that your body is used to, but don’t stress over it because stress can decrease the quality and quantity of your sleep.  As for diet, hopefully you read my first article about breakfast and have been getting in the routine of having balanced breakfasts so that you can fuel your body with balanced energy the morning of the race.  Even if you are not very hungry in the morning, a small piece of toast with some peanut butter and banana will provide the carbohydrates that you need for fuel and the healthy fats and protein to balance your blood sugar. If you have gotten used to having balanced breakfasts before your training runs, this should be exactly what your body wants before the race!

One of the most known food rituals of race training is commonly referred to as “carbo-loading,” or the strategy of eating a high amount of carbohydrates in order to increase glycogen stores in the muscle and liver, so that the body has more energy to run on. Normally, the body can only store about 200-500 grams of glycogen, which is the storage form of glucose (Smolin and Grosvenor, 2016).  Carbohydrate loading can temporarily increase (double, if done properly) the amount of glycogen stored before an endurance event. The larger amount of glycogen from more carbohydrates in the diet increases the amount of time before people experience fatigue and exhaustion.

However, I am going to urge you to put the breaks on those multiple delicious bowls of pasta before the Broad Street Run.  Yes, I am recommending that you do not carbo-load.  The race is 10 miles, which will not take nearly as long as a marathon or even a half marathon.  It is more important to stick to what you are used to eating on a daily basis to avoid any surprises or stomach issues on race day.  For a race of this length, it is more important to maintain your routine than to try something new before hitting the start line. However, eating a few extra potatoes and slices of bread with peanut butter this week, if these are things that you normally eat on occasion, will not hurt you.  Carbohydrate loading consists of eating on average 700 grams of carbohydrates per day (for a 150 pound person), which comes out to about 18 cups of white pasta, to give you an idea. This is a pretty severe regimen, which is probably not necessary for a ten-mile run that will take under 150 minutes.

To summarize, stick to what you know makes you feel good for this ten-mile race! If you know something upsets your stomach, don’t eat it in the days leading up to the race. Consider your training runs as practice – repeat what worked well for those, and omit what did not work.  Routine is key since our bodies love forming habits, and do not love surprises. Good luck on Sunday!

Smolin, Lori A., and Mary B. Grosvenor. Nutrition: Science and Applications. 4th ed, 2016.


by  Lizzy Greener
Lizzy is a Personal Trainer at The Sporting Club at The Bellevue and is studying to become a Registered Dietitian