How do you feed yourself for optimum performance? I'm taking a sports nutrition class right now and discussing just that.
We've discussed carb loading--that is eating a bunch of carbs before endurance exercise so your muscles have something to use for energy. Of course, you have to make sure you're really engaging in endurance activities before you carb-load. If you gorge on pasta before a 5K, the excess carbs will most likely be stored as fat.
The class has also looked at fat loading. A tantalizing concept that says that since endurance athletes burn fat, loading up on dietary fat before a big race can give you an edge.
Sadly, this is a theory that has been discredited. In fact, if you eat too much fat too close to the race, it just causes gastrointestinal problems.
I may have hit on a solution though--carb+fat loading. On Saturday, I finally got my head above academic and extracurricular waters far enough to contemplate a nice, long run--my first in about a month. But first, a post-basketball visit with my favorite basketball player to Baker and Spice, where I ate an almond croissant. An almond croissant packed with white flour, butter, and sugar. A couple of hours later, I set out on my run. It was a nice easy pace and I felt like I could have run forever. Between the croissant and a diet in general that has been kinda carb heavy (it's winter! I'm busy! Carbs taste good and are easy to prepare!) my muscles were stuffed with yummy glycogen (what muscles turn carbs into to fuel themselves).
Unfortunately, since I have not been training properly since school started, "forever" turned out to be 8.5 miles. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but not quite trained up enough if I'm going to enter a 30K in March in Champoeg that I have my eye on.