September Ask Reba Winner

Folks, we have a winner! Apologies for the late post, but all good winning questions have a good answer…and I didn’t quite have it. So, I relied on my coach Dean Golich for back-up. A big congratulations goes out to Jose Alas for winning a pair of Smith Pivlock V2 Max glasses. Here is the wining question and answer:


During the days leading up to the taper for an endurance event, volume typically goes down but intensity can remain moderate to high over shorter periods of time.  The idea is not to do too much, let the body recover and be ready to explode on race day with new found strength.  During the final few days of the taper my personal challenge is to eat enough food as to not gain any weight but also pack the muscles with much needed glycogen for race day.  During the taper phase one taps into the existing glycogen reserves especially if  the exercise has some moderate to high levels of efforts over short periods of time (anaerobic efforts).  From what I have read eating 30-60 minutes after the effort is the best to pack the muscles with energy for the next day.


In the final days of taper (maybe even the day before, which is more critical in my mind) how much time is required of moderate to high intensity exercise to induce a glycogen response that packs the muscles with more energy? The goal is to still feel super fresh on race day but get that extra edge of performance by packing the muscles and liver with extra glycogen. Everything I have read does not provide a range of time or effort needed to trigger the glycogen response.

Follow-up Question:

Once the glycogen response is triggered should one eat high glycemic or low glycemic foods?  Does it matter?  During the week low glycemic foods are probably better because of the complex carbohydrate chains.

Thanks for any help you can provide. J. Alas


A:  Thanks for the thoughtful question. For the answer, I relied on my coach, Dean Golich,  from my Carmichael Training Systems.

Dean:  “The idea is to maintain  some intensity during taper while reducing the volume to around 50%.  This means that they should maintain their same diet thru the taper thus making sure all stores are at full capacity.  Yes, 30 minutes after exercise is most beneficial for replacing muscle glycogen but in a taper period it is less important, since you are not depleting glycogen stores completely or to the point where you will not have enough time (ie: back to back workouts) to replenish over a day or so.  So this is not important.

The final days are predominately rest with short efforts of maybe 2×10 tempo or LT or other short efforts.  These will deplete glycogen stores at most 25-35%.  Remember you have about 2000-2500 Kcal of glycogen storage.  So if the question is more about the old school thought of carbo loading, we do not use that technique these days.  Now we just maintain the same diet while reducing the volume and some intensity.  Within the 30 min. window high glycemic is best and at other times in a taper it does not matter since there is plenty of time for absorbtion when back to back workouts and depletion are rare”.



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