What Happens If I Don't Eat Enough Carbohydrate?
Carbohydrates clearly play a significant role in keeping your body sufficiently fuelled for training runs and the race itself. Neglecting them will severely affect your performance and possibly even your health. Every year, runners pull up at races at various points on the course suffering from hypoglycaemia, a condition which is brought about by a lack of sugar in the blood stream. The symptoms include:
- Heavy legs
- Severe Lethargy and Fatigue
Symptoms like this are unpleasant whilst at rest let alone when you are competing in an event you may never do again. All steps must be taken to avoid hypoglycaemia during the race. Your determination may drive you through the initial warning signs, but when there is no sugar left in the blood and the body is trying in vain to break down fat and protein quick enough to produce sugar to feed your brain, you can black out and potentially drop into a diabetic coma.
Along with ensuring you have got your pre race carbohydrate intake correct, measures can be taken whilst you are running to help stop blood sugar levels dropping too low. These include:
- Take advantage of the sports drink stations
- Consume a carbohydrate gel with water every 45 mins
- Snack on easily edible sugary sweets, such as jelly beans or jelly babies
The importance of correct carbohydrate intake throughout you preparations is clearly important and something that should not be taken for granted. If you ever experience the symptoms of hypoglycaemia on a long run, it only then that you can fully appreciate how important carbohydrates are to the endurance runner.
It is not only poor carbohydrate management that affect the performance of many amateur runners. Insufficient and incorrect fluid intake can also have a major impact on the performance and health of a runner.