When I was in high school I was told to eat carbs the night before a race.

Over the summer as I prepared for high school cross country, during a season as I ran, I would load up on carbs.  Some spaghetti, but mostly, my favorite – Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

My absolute favorite mac n cheese was the Kraft that had the squeeze cheese, not the powdered stuff.  I loved the squeeze cheese mac n cheese.

My other favorite?  A bagel toasted with cheese, tomato and basil.

I loved carbs.  And cheese.

Anyway, my love of carby foods outlasted my high school running career.  Carby food became my vice.  I gained some weight.  A lot of weight actually.  To start my weight loss journey I knew 2 things had to go:

1.  white sugar

2. white flour

*sniff, sniff*  “I love you squeeze cheese mac n cheese!  Goodbye!”

I’ve had to make some adjustments.  Eating carbs before a big race is still what I need to do.  But I learned more and have adjusted when I eat the carbs and what kind of carbs I eat.  Here is how I carbo-load before a big race.

Pre-Race Carbo Load

Did you ever “hit a wall” when running?  Felt completely depleted?  Rumor has it your body is depleted of glycogen if this happens.  When you carbo load you are trying to add glycogen into all your muscle stores.  Come race day, you will tap into all of your muscle stores and use up all your glycogen.  This is why you carbo load.  To fill the stores.

My breakfasts and lunches are always the same.  I eat egg whites with tapioca toast for breakfast and I juice my lunches (current favorite is celerey, green apple, beet, lemon, parsley, carrot).  My carbs come in at dinner.

3 Days Out

I start 3 days out and am tapering my runs.  Before a marathon I take 3 and 2 days out off from running.  I eat healthy meals that have some protein in them, but are pretty much comlplex carbohydrates.  I enjoy eating:

  • Whole grain Pasta with fresh tomato’s, feta and seasoning
  • Whole grain rice with black beans and jalapeno

(I have taken dairy out of my diet, but find a bit of feta every now and again does not seem to bother me, so it is on these days, I indulge).

2 Days Out

Leftover day – I am still not running, and will eat whatever I had for dinner the previous night

1 Day Out

I jog a couple of miles the day before a race.  Then I switch to simple carbs.  I do not want to have anything work it’s way out at an inopportune time come race day, so here is where I eat light, but what I really enjoy.

My favorite dinner is back to one of my old favorite comfort foods:  The toasted bagel with almond cheese, tomato and basil.

I enjoy it so much I use a fork and knife and cut each lovely bite.

Race Breakfast

I wake up, drink a glass of water with my regular vitamins and juice a head of beets.  I talked about the benefits of drinking beet juice here.

I eat a banana and 2 pieces of my tapioca loaf toast with peanut butter and my morning cup of coffee.  Then that’s it!  I may drink some water, but that is all the food or drink  take in, about 2 hours before race time.

I have eaten protein, carbs and filled my glycogen stores.

These are the things that I enjoy eating.  Some other great pasta ideas to carbo load with can be found here.

Varying from complex carbs to simple carbs is the method that works for me.  Here is another carb loading schedule from Runners World.

Sill looking for some other foods to load up on carbs with?  Check out this link here for other sources of carbs.


In short, no one wants to “hit a wall” come race day.  Filling up on carbs, in the right amount, in the right way, leading up to race day can really help fill your muscles glycogen stores.  Find the right formula that works for you, your tummy and your muscles.  And say “Here I come!” on race day!