I just registered for the 2012 Austin Marathon, which is in about 3.5 months. I am very excited about the race, but this will be my first marathon eating paleo. As I was running this morning, I began thinking about how athletes typically eat before a big event, and I got worried. There’s always a big dinner party the night before for all of the athletes, and guess what they serve? PASTA. What do I eat the night before my race if I don’t eat grains like everyone else? Do I need to just “cheat” so I can “get the carbs I need before the big race”? I KNOW that will make me feel terrible… All of these questions sent me looking for information about paleo for athletes.
I found two pretty good sources: One source says that you can get enough carbs from veggies and fruits (including the starchy tubers we are typically advised to avoid). Eating the starchy tubers is only OK because of the intense physical activity to come, otherwise they’re big trouble. The other source likewise recommends you get your carbs from fruits and veggies, with the added comment that the time to eat “nonoptimal foods” like bread and pasta, is after a hard workout. This loophole to eat grains completely contradicts paleo (and I found it on a site focusing on paleo for athletes). Plus, it tells me to eat grains at the opposite time I used to (after the race as opposed to before the race). In addition, The Paleo Diet for Athletes discusses the possibility that “carbing up” may not be as good for us as we have been taught. So, I’m confused… and I’m the kind of person that has to see it to believe it.
It looks like I am going to have to experiment myself and figure out what works for me over the next few months. My plan is to try something slightly different for both pre- and post-activity each time I go for a long run (over 10 miles). I am going to keep notes on how I fee during and after my runs, and post more blogs with what I find works for me. Hopefully I can get a solid before and after meal by the time February 19th comes around, and help other paleo athletes in the process. Feel free to comment with your own experiences or questions.
Here are the two websites I found so you can check them out yourself: