Clearly I'm no expert on this topic. However, I have run enough races to know what works for me. So what are my real thoughts on carb loading??
I think it's somewhat unnecessary and you have to be pretty darn careful with what you eat the day before a big race.
Here's my theory. Sometimes I think we use a marathon or half marathon as an excuse to eat an enormous mound of rich pasta and bread the night before our race. Something that we aren't necessarily used to. So we take in an exponential amount of fat and calories in the same 24 hour window of a strenuous, taxing race and well.... you very well could be clenching your butt cheeks and begging for a porta potty 4 miles in.
My thoughts are, if you are exercising less than normal the week of a marathon or half (as you should be), the calories that you aren't burning during training are used to help fuel your muscles on race day. Continue to eat your normal foods with some additional (fairly clean) carbs added in here and there during race week and you're golden.
Do I eat a carby meal the night before a race? For shizzle. Is it elaborate? No. It usually goes a little something like this.
Cuz I'm fancy like that. My tried and true meal is typically about 3/4 c of TJ's organic whole wheat pasta and TJ's traditional marinara sauce. Topped with TJ's parmesan. I usually add a small side salad with a couple strips of grilled chicken. This is a technically a pretty bland meal. However, I never wake up feeling heavy or with GI issues. (knock on wood). It's just what works for me.
If I do happen to eat a rich meal pre-race day, as I did at Blue Ridge Marathon , I really try and watch my portions and try to stop eating well before that "I'm stuffed" feeling. Nothing is worse than putting all of that time and money into a marathon and feeling like crap on race day.
I figure if you are fueling properly all along. Have fuel for your actual race (Rehydrate Gel!) , then there is really no need to hog out on carbs the day or week before a race. A lot of times I think this is why marathoners say that they can't lose weight or actually gain weight during training.
Just my 2 cents. I think finding what works for your body is key. I'm just sharing my own non-researched theories and what works for me!
For all of you racing this weekend....