You Did What: Carb Loading

Each Spring (usually sometime in April) Chicago hosts a running event called the Shamrock Shuffle – As the name implies, this run, or shuffle as it were, in honor of the Saint Patrick (St. Patrick’s Day) – Patron Saint of Patience, of which I have little but bare with me.

Every April, like clock work, my social media feeds are inundated with posts related to the mildly competitive 5 mile running event that is revered for the beer party at its finish.  Now, I am not one to disparage the way anyone lives their life but I noticed something this year, an alarming number of Shamrock Shuffle participants poasting about their pre-race “carb load” on social media. I’m feeling a little frisky today so here is my unsolicited opinion on the topic.


1st The liver holds roughly 100g of glycogen with the muscles holding appx 400 more g. Now, if a runner were to manage to deplete their entire glycogen reserve – which, unless they a sprinting away from a knife wielding trash panda (…a racoon) at ramming speed for more than 20 min this is highly unlikely.

2ND If this were to happen, the “shuffler” would need to add additional glycogen during the race – which would render the whole concept of “carb loading” moot.

3rd The real reason to  “load carbs” prior to the Shuffle would be to prevent shufflers from running out energy and reducing performance. Now based on my experience watching the event and working with people in this industry for nearly 20 years, I can tell you, lack of carbs are not the problem. The real concern is the amount of carbs people consume, thus there is no need to “carb load” before a race…of 5 miles…

Now I don’t want to seem insensitive, I like carbs as much as the next guy and I certainly don’t want so see a “Shuffler” down on the course from complete and total glycogen depletion – But I can tell you from experience there are plenty of sports drink tables, convenience stores and runners wearing fanny packs filled with gummy pellets from the good peeps at Haribo to help fallen “Shufflers” in field in the unlikely event it happens.

Long story short – If you want to run to the Olive Garden and suckle at the tit of unlimited bread sticks and pasta, do it for the right reasons; it’s delicious and a lovely way to spend an evening.  Don’t hide behind the Shamrock Shuffle. Live dangerously, run fast, run hard and without the carb load – then enjoy your beer at the finish line.