Barefoot/minimalist running, carb loading

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

This week, I’d like to focus on two topics. One that has been around for years and is dying down and another that has been around for decades and is still going strong.

Is running barefoot/minimalists good or bad?

First, the topic that in recent years has spurred some heated, emotional debate. It has long been my contention that a runner should find the least amount of shoe that specific runner can wear without problems. For some, that means minimalist shoes. For a very select few, that may mean running barefoot. For most, it likely means something more than minimalist shoes but where on the spectrum is different for everyone, based on countless variables.

Well, one blogger I greatly respect reviews a recent study and finds pretty much that:

Which is evidence that barefoot/minimalism is different to shod. None of that says its better, it just says its different. For some runners that may help and for other runners that may hurt – ie its subject specific.

Is carb loading good or bad?

So what about carb loading? We’ve been doing it for years. However, I’ve been looking at recent research, as well as modern day in race fueling practices, and been questioning the benefit of carb loading. It’s not that you don’t want to have plenty of high octane fuel to burn. It’s just that, when you can take so much during the race, do you really need to risk digestive tract issues and carry around the additional weight, which could be as much as 8 pounds, to get that benefit? With all the sports drinks, gels and various other options you can get during a race, I’ve been questioning the benefit of traditional carb loading.

It looks like I’m not the only one. Sports scientist Ross Tucker, another blogger I greatly respect, laid out a pretty good case against carb loading in this interview.

Is it going to stop me from my traditional spaghetti dinner before races? No because I know that’s a meal that works for me. Even when I know I’m not going to be burning through my glycogen stores, I’m going to keep doing that as dinner the evening before a race. However, I’ll continue to not make a big deal of pushing a high carb diet for days before a race and I’ll encourage others to not get too caught up with doing that. In my opinion, it’s better to continue eating a healthy, well balanced diet in the days before a race.

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