Whilst carbohydrate loading is important – I’ve done the research to show that people who carbo-load maintain pace better during the London Marathon – the whole premise creates really poor nutrition habits. Fatigue, bloating and lethargy typically result from consuming large amounts of carbohydrate in a short amount of time. Runners tend to assume that it means eating the largest bowl of pasta for their evening meal, adding half a loaf of bread, and a pudding for good measure. This is NOT good practice. The day before a race is all about carbohydrate loading, but eating 4-5 meals in that day as opposed to 3 will help, by spreading the carbohydrate intake. Steal a little bit more food at every meal, use drinks or smoothies to prevent bloating, but above everything, you shouldn’t feel full, bloated or stuffed.
If I had the answer to the “stitch” I would definitely be a rich man! In truth, it is a very frustrating, and a common problem. On the basis I can’t provide a solution, I will quickly outline the key areas in which you should think through and address:
– Note down the foods you tend to eat in the periods close to a race. Are they always the same, does the stitch occur at times when you can see trends in your food choices?
– What about the timing of your food intake. Are you having your pre-race meal 4 hours before races, and if not how close, or far away. Depending on that, are you snacking before hand also?
In many respects, I have asked more questions than provided answers. But working together we would keep a diary, and try to work through exactly what your pre-race schedule was and if there were any obvious areas in which to change. It might be an area to discuss direct.