How to Properly Carb Load for a Race

As I sit here eating a bagel in preparation for the Rock N’ Roll Marathon this Sunday, I thought to myself, what is the best, most effective way to prep, nutritionally, for a race? The Rock N’ Roll Marathon is one of the most popular races in San Diego, and I know a lot of you are doing it yourself, or know someone who is. So, after I googled many articles from Runner’s World ( and, I came up with a few tips that seem to be the most common and effective for runners and I thought I’d share what I found with you.


1. When should I start?

Typically, 2-3 days before the race is a good time to start increasing your carb intake. Have a smaller meal the night before because you don’t want to start running a marathon on a full stomach, especially if the race is early in the morning. A good plan if your race starts at 6am, have your last meal around 5-6pm, go to bed early, wake up at 3am, have small meal with a carb (like some toast and a banana), go back to sleep and wake up and run.

2. How much should I eat?

About 80-90% of your total meal should be simple carbs. Like I said, have a smaller meal the night before so you’re not overly full when you wake up in the morning. I like a little caffeine in the morning to get me pumped and a smaller breakfast to keep me fueled for the run itself, but this is sort of personal preference.

3. What should I eat?

Carbs, of course.
Just kidding. The type of carb you should be eating and what you eat with it is very important. A common mistake is to eat too much fat with your carbs. Healthy fat is very important for a healthy balanced diet, but in this specific case, you do not want to add too much fat with your carbs. So if you’re eating a bagel, skip the butter and just do jam. And if you’re eating spaghetti, use marinara sauce instead of Alfredo sauce. Another common mistake is to eat too much fiber. Fiber is a very important component of a balanced diet, however, if you’re eating too much of it, your body will not store the glycogen that you get from a simple carb, such as pasta. So, for this specific time, skip the whole wheat and opt for white.

I hope this helps clarify a bit for anyone questioning what they need to be eating before a race. It’s just a few guidelines, because everyone is different, so if you ever have any questions regarding your health or fitness needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m always happy to help you reach your goals safely! And finally, for everyone running the half or full on Sunday, good luck! I’ll see you out there!!!!

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