Carbo Loading and other news!

So, this is my first official blog post! For some reason it makes me nervous to know that it can be read by the entire world and that something I say could invoke change, feelings of fear, or judgement from others. However, I will press on, because that is what I do!

Tomorrow is my second full marathon. The first one I ran was a little less than 6 months ago in Washington, D.C. for the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM). The MCM is a great 1st marathon and I have heard that many marathons do not even begin to provide the same level of GREATNESS that you experience there. My finishing time was 5:15, which was fine as my goal was just to finish. I had accumulated a couple of injuries close to the end of my training cycle and was just happy that I made it there! Tomorrow, I will be going in building off the base of training that I built up in October to complete the Knoxville Marathon.

While I have trained much harder and stuck to a strict running and strength training regime, I feel nervous, but ready. This is the first marathon, that I am trying to achieve a time goal (at least under 5, but hopefully less that 4:45) and if any of you run in the mountains of Tennessee  you know that our hills are deceiving.

In other news, the most frequently asked question that I get from people before running these endurance races, is “aren’t you supposed to eat spaghetti or other pasta for a whole week?” While, I am not a nutritionist and certainly am not the person to give diet regimens, I will give you my personal opinion/experience with carb loading.

First off, I eat a grain restricted diet. Last summer, I was strictly pale, but once the last semester of grad school kicked, it I started incorporating some non-paleo foods back in because my diet was getting out of control and I wasn’t eating enough. While Carbs are a good thing, they help your body produce energy, regulate glucose, and help with digestion, you can’t go from eating a grain restricted diet to eating pasta everyday for a week before a race. Also, there is a common misunderstanding that carbs are only bread, pasta, etc. while there are many other “good for you” carbs out there.

For instance, last night, I made a batch of sweet potatoes and a chicken pad thai filling. Sweet potatoes are a low-glycemic carbohydrate, one will fill you up, and they taste so much better than plain white spaghetti noodles. Other things that I have had throughout the week have been salads (leafy greens are carbs), broccoli mixed in with whole grain macaroni, and steel cut oatmeal. These items help me “carb load” without making me feel bloated or by causing me to gain 10 pounds before a race.

Lastly, not everyone has to follow a grain restricted diet. I do so, because it helps me with stomach cramping and my body does not tolerate a great deal of traditional grains so well. When I first made the switch to paleo, I lost about 10 pounds, but started building muscle and getting more definition in certain ares of my body. While I don’t strictly follow a diet regime, trying to eat clean and healthy for 80-90% of my week has certainly helped with my training and allowed me to excel my performance. I guess the moral of this story is it is okay to indulge in spaghetti, but there are other ways to get creative with carb loading that are not going to throw months of strict dieting and exercise down the drain before your big race!

Wish me luck tomorrow- Cassie

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