Without a doubt, proper training and race readiness. By proper training I mean the physical, mental, and nutritional components. Practicing a well balanced nutrition plan in training, and executing it on race day. Also, by doing a proper taper to ensure your body has replenished it nutrients and energy prior to the race. Lastly, not taking the race start out too fast, but rather conservatively, wait it out, see how your body is reacting, it will let you know whether or not you can go for it, if you trained properly, my guess is that it will tell you to pick it up through out the race.
Toby, I think this article will answer a lot of your questions. It really helps explain the physiology of calorie consumption and what is happening to your body when it hits "the wall".
This article is actually written very poorly. As the name implies, disaccharides have two, not "two or three" sugar subunits. The "gastric emptying" (in case this term even exists) probably refers to the fact that some simple sugars (fructose, glucose, saccharose) can be utilized by the body faster than others (maltose, starch). However, most of the energy you use during your run is stored in your body already in the form of glycogen. The volume of food in your stomach is most likely not very important, unless you run for a very long time. Therefore it is important that you eat the right and enough food during the days ahead of your race, as well as to take care that you don't over-sugar with simple carbs in the hours before start time and during the race. If you do, you will "bonk": glucose burns fast and spikes your insulin levels. Glucose burns faster than your insulin levels decay, therefore you end up with too much insulin in your blood. Insulin reduces the sugar levels in your blood, and your muscles run out of fuel. You crash. Maltose does not trigger insulin as rapidly or massively as glucose does. Therefore my tip: Eat or drink a product that is based on maltose and stay away from glucose containing products!
i am new here, and i am unsure who the gurus are and who isnt.
in response to wundermichls post:
The "gastric emptying" (in case this term even exists) probably refers to the fact that some simple sugars (fructose, glucose, saccharose) can be utilized by the body faster than others (maltose, starch).
me here: Gastric emptying alomst certainly does exist, it is a simple proceedure that is under complex neural control, and is important in chosing what you eat and the type of electrolyte and Carbohydrate content.
the mention of insulin levels spiking and relating to glucose levels is attributed to the Somoygi affect. Too much glucose will cause a massive release of insulin which will clear the glucose out of circulation very fast , causing a rapid loss in immediately available energy and particular in mental alertness.
The amount of glucose, and electrolytres as well as other indicators are seen and checked in endurance horses who can race over 320 km's in a 5 day race, in Australia where it can be hot and humid.
The volume of food in your stomach is most likely not very important, unless you run for a very long time.
Yea, TrailRunner is a mag primarily for ultra off-road racers (and Toby happens to be running a 50 mile trail run today). You probably wouldn't need to worry about carbs in a 10 miler or shorter race, but marathons and ultras certainly require calorie consumption during the event.
i find myself hitting the wall when i can not focus...so i make myself focus by yelling "pick up the pace",or"i want it more than you".and then thinking to myself pass out before i fall out. just like when i was in the army.(i also prepare nutritionally,physically,etc)