Training “On the Edge” @HospitalHillRun @skoraRunning @SkratchLabs

I love running movies. I guess you could say I’m collecting them. There’s something motivational about watching a good one when you’re training or just about to race. It’s hard to find a truly comprehensive list out there. Here’s my list of what I’ve seen:

http://minimallyshoddy.com/2013/05/07/what-to-watch-cinematic-inspiration-during-your-taper/

I recently added “On the Edge” to my “seen it” list thanks to its mention in the recent Runner’s World article about Bruce Dern. A lifelong runner with some serious cred (e.g. 100,000 miles!), Dern brings authenticity to his starring role in this 1986 movie. The movie holds up well despite a goofy 80s synth soundtrack (it’s no Chariots of Fire, I guess Vangelis was busy). “On the Edge” is a runner’s running movie – and because of that authenticity, I’m going to use it to highlight a few training tips I noticed in it that we can all take to heart as we get ready for Hospital Hill!

1. Quit your job and move to some Spartan digs right next to the race course. Kidding! But it’s a good intro to what the movie is about. Dern plays Wes Holman, a 43-year-old (hey, that’s my age!) runner who lost his amateur status decades ago while trying to organize fellow athletes just prior to the U.S. Olympic trials. We meet him as he is scouting his comeback to run the “Cielo Sea Race” – a handicapped trail race which is not-so-loosely based on “The Dipsea Race” – a Northern California event billed as the oldest trail race in America. Not-so-coincidental fact: Dern finished 293rd in the race in 1974 and said he’d never do it again because it was “too dangerous.” The race features a staggered start intended to give runners of all ages and genders the chance to cross the finish line first. Anyhow, Wes moves into an abandoned barge on the docks that floods with the tide. He devotes himself entirely to his training.

2. Know your race course. The real tips begin. Wes returns to the site of this local race 1 year before he intends to race it. He scouts the course, taking notes as the race is going on. We meet him as he watches the lead runner come up “Cardiac Hill.” Wes trains on the course – I think this is really helpful, after all you don’t know if you can make it up the Broadway Hill until you’ve done it! If you train on the terrain you’ll be running on, you’ll be prepared.

3. Follow a training plan. Wes has a plan: he charts his every single run on a poster-board – type of workout, times, etc. That’s Dern – apparently he’s compulsive. You don’t know any runners like that, do you? The takeaway from this tip is that a training plan can help you put in the mileage you’ll need to prepare as well as building speed and endurance with different types of workouts.

4. Incorporate some variety. Wes does different things – he doesn’t just run. He runs up a hill holding a rock over his head (less common cross-training) and does a lot of push ups and sit-ups (more common). I’m not doing any rock-carrying just now, but I do some core strength training almost every day, and more of it on running “off” days.

5. Have the right shoes. Wes is particular about his shoes – he knows what he wants and he special orders it. I am particular too! I run in Skora performance running shoes – designed by runners for runners.

6. Diet. Wes eats. You should too. I can’t recall anything specific about Wes’ diet – he does share a family style meal at his father’s house. My advice is be discriminating about what you put into your body. When I was younger I felt like my body was a furnace that would burn whatever garbage I put into it. The last 5 years or so I’ve really started paying more attention to how my body reacts to different types of food. I like to experiment. And I don’t mean one run on Twinkies, the next on Ho-hos. I’ve been fueling and hydrating with Skratch Labs’ hot Apples & Cinnamon exercise hydration mix lately. I drink about 16 oz. pre-run – it’s nice to raise my core temp instead of lowering it before heading out into the cold. Hopefully I’ll be switching over to the traditional cold sports drink soon! C’mon spring, stick around.

7. Get a coach. Wes reunites with his old coach and – lesson time again – has a hard time submitting to his advice and methods, but ultimately leans on his wisdom. Wes takes to heart a mantra his coach gives him: “soar” the uphills, “burn” the downs. There are lots of ways to find a coach – and it doesn’t have to be one-on-one in person, although it can be. There are coaches in our area who will combine group workouts and individual advice. A coach can also motivate you and advise you remotely (e.g. my Skora friend Kyle Kranz: http://kylekranz.com/). You can self-coach or join a running club, but to really do it right you’ve got to be willing to read a lot and engage in honest self-assessment.

8. Don’t try to push through injuries. Wes uses active recovery – soaking in a tub for instance – to cope with the day-to-day wear and tear of training. He suffers a minor injury during his training and rests it for a few days rather than aggravating it. There’s no one-size-fits-all advice for injuries, but it if hurts – back off. If it still hurts, see a professional.

9. Be motivated by competition. Even in training, Wes has his eye on some competitors in the race – including a frenemy from his past. We can all take some inspiration from the cliché “when you’re not training, someone else is.” I’m not encouraging overtraining, but even if you’re just competing against yourself, a competitive mindset can get you out of bed for one of those pre-dawn sessions we all hate. Maybe it’s just taking inspiration from the elites we see maximizing their potential. There are some true elites in cameo roles in “On the Edge.”

10. Embrace your goal. This is the toughest one to relate to the movie. It seems clear Wes’ goal is to win the Cielo Sea Race – or is it? Perhaps it’s personal redemption. I don’t want to ruin the ending for you! You have to know what your goal is to achieve it. Set one. Finish? Run the whole race? Set a PR? Set a goal and work towards it as you train. There will be sacrifice. The reward or disappointment you reap on race day will directly relate to what you sow in training.

Get out there and “Soar!”

A Cold Run on the Beach – Psycho Wyco 50K 2014 @skorarunning @skratchlabs

I ran the aptly named Psycho Wyco 50K this weekend at Wyandotte County Lake Park in Kansas City, Kansas. “Aptly named?” I offer this comment from a friend to a picture I posted to Facebook: “You are crazy.” No exclamation point, just a declaration. Hard to argue.

This was my first ultramarathon and my first Psycho Wyco. While I’d previously paced a 26.2+ distance, this was my first timed race entry for an ultra. I probably would have apologized more for calling this 50k an ultra (it is) having not run a 50m or 100m yet, but this was one tough 50k. I had some lofty goals for this race that were crushed by the weather. I can run this 10 mile trail loop in about 1:30 in decent conditions. I ran it in 1:37 in December’s Alternate Chili run, and that was with a slight amount of snow/ice on the ground. For the 50K, that’s three laps. I had aspirations of breaking the 5:00 mark. Spoiler alert: not even close. I was pleased with my overall place, 12th.

We had an ice storm the weekend before the race, followed by close to a foot of snow on the Tuesday before. The temps stayed arctic after that too. Very little melting. Yesterday, a local weatherman observed that we had gone 252 hours since we were last above freezing!

I did my typical low-residue diet the Friday before the race. That is, no fiber. Eggs, meat, carbs (I usually try to avoid refined sugars, but not pre-race), cheese, cream, etc. Worked like a charm. No porta-potty stops! My son had a soccer academy skills clinic on Friday night, and as I was messing around on Twitter during his practice, I saw Dr. Jordan Metzel @drjordanmetzl tweet that he was coming into town for Psycho Wyco with @RWGearGuy (Runner’s World Editor Jeff Dengate) and @JamieMetzl. I let Dr. Metzel know I appreciated his advice (he’s a triathlete and MD who regularly contributes to Runner’s World) and especially his excellent Iron Strength workout. I didn’t get a chance to meet Dr. Metzel at the race, but Jeff and I finished within 30 seconds of each other and traded congratulations at the finish line.

The night before, I re-screwed my Skora Forms (the screw heads were looking a bit worn after heavy use in recent weeks), assembled my gear, and hit the sack. I woke up around six and had some eggs, a double espresso with cream, and about 20 oz of this:

http://www.skratchlabs.com/collections/drinks/products/apple-cinnamon-exercise-hydration-mix-limited-edition-holiday-flavor

Hot hydration? You bet. If it’s hot out, you want a cold sports drink right? It’s delicious – actually flavored with apples and cinnamon!

Then it was off to the race. Great logistics. Close-in parking at start/finish line is limited, so a shuttle runs from a remote lot. It gave me a chance to do some final gearing up. I changed out of my Skora Cores and into my screwed Forms. The Form is my go-to trail shoe. Minimalist with just enough sole to keep you from getting beat to death on the rocks. I also slathered my face and hands with Alba Unpetroleum jelly (I had already covered my feet with it). Temperatures were just under 20F at race start, and only warmed into the mid-20s during the race, so I decided on a light-weight headband, a cold weather compression shirt, lightweight windbreaker running jacket, running tights, shorts, and toe-socks. I went with some glommits on my hands – rag wool – just picked them up the night before. I figured wool would stay warm better if I got them wet from putting a hand down in the snow, and they worked great.

Conditions were daunting as we waded out into the snow in the starting field. I had already mentally prepared myself for a slower and longer day than I had previously hoped for. Justin, a fellow runner I had met at my kids’ school a few months back (I introduced myself after noticing his Boston Marathon jacket) diffused any tension by coming up and saying hi before the start. We ran together for quite a bit of the first lap.

The trail wasn’t as chewed up during the first lap as it was on the second two. To put a finer point on it, the snow never packed. Ok, there was a stretch on a ridge where I thought I heard snow packing under my feet for a few seconds. Since it was so cold, the snow pretty much remained the consistency of sand the whole time. Hence, the title of this post. During the second and third loops, it really looked like sand for long stretches where the dirt had mixed in a bit.  The trail did clear a little bit in some places with all the traffic moving through, but I thought other spots actually become more difficult from getting all churned up.

Here’s a picture fairly soon after the start. I was moving as fast as possible, but I can’t disagree if you think I look like I’m walking (or if I have an “are we there yet” look on my face):

psychowyco2014-1259

The next set of photos come from a really fun part of the trail – the “Triangle” – a single-track section with lots of switchbacks (other parts of the course are on a slightly wider “bridle trail” – btw the horses were smart enough to stay home). I actually enjoyed it the most the first time through when there was more snow:

psychowyco2014-0086

The first loop was also the most fun because there were still so many people running together. Most trail racers are pretty cool about yielding the trail if you want to pass, especially under these conditions. I passed and was passed, all without any hurt feelings.

The first time through, the biggest shock was how difficult it was to get up to the top of Dam Hill and onto the road up to the aid station. I slid back down twice before crawling onto the road. By the way, the course had excellent aid stations throughout – stocked with plenty of necessities and staffed by super-friendly and enthusiastic people, including my friend Darin Schneidewind – who I paced for the last 35 of the OT100 last November! For my part, I pretty much stuck to the sports drink and the gels. The Dam aid station had hot broth the last time through – that was GREAT! I had started asking for “something hot” as I finished the first loop, and people would give me coffee out of their thermos without hesitation. Just great.

Here’s a few shots from the Fester’s Wander section and coming down a big hill. This was probably the most treacherous hill on the course that day, which is why I again look like I am walking. I could see the skid marks of those who had gone before me. And maybe some blood. On the second lap I was running with a guy named Kevin, and we joked that we kept leapfrogging each other. He would fly down the hills and pass me, and I would crank up them and pass him back. So here’s that section:

PsychoWyco2014-2473-XL PsychoWyco2014-2474-XL

Easy does it!

PsychoWyco2014-2477-XL

I didn’t ask the photographer to focus on my Skora Forms, but this is a nice pic of the shoes.

psychowyco2014-1486

Chasing up a hill!

Now for my two favorite pictures. It can be really hard to describe to people the pure joy I feel when running. I’m so thankful that I have the ability to do what I love. These two are worth at least a thousand words each:

PsychoWyco2014-1485-XL PsychoWyco2014-1484-XL

I finished the first loop in 2:00:40.7, hoping as I came through the start/finish line that the course had gotten packed down a bit for the second loop. I didn’t find it to be any easier the second time through, and I couldn’t manage to pick up my pace any, falling off to 2:10:24.4. Perhaps if I had set a fallback goal ahead of time atm6 hours and figured out that pace I might have pushed harder, but as it was I was just enjoying the day as much as possible and not really looking at my watch. I knew I was going to be slower than I hoped. It was tough going, but I wasn’t really able to move quickly and productively enough that I was ever challenging my cardio except on the ups.

Perhaps the most exhilarating moment of the race was coming through the start/finish line at the end of the second lap. There were still a lot of people hanging around at that point waiting for people to come in from the 10 mile and 20 mile distances. I got some nice crowd support once they realized I was headed out for a third and final lap! That lap was pretty lonely, although I did come across a few racers. One guy was chatting with his significant other on a cell phone while keeping up a pretty good pace. Impressive! He described the snow as having the consistency of sugar. Agree. Another, Will, caught me in the last few miles. Making excuses for myself, I had developed one of those mysterious side stitches and just couldn’t knead it out. Will and I ran together for a while, but I knew he had me to the finish. Several of us finished pretty close to each other, and I did manage to gut it out and stay ahead of a few guys on my tail.

Not surprisingly, my last lap was the slowest, at 2:17:45.1. My total time was 6:28:50.2. At least I set the bar low for my first timed 50k ultra! Nowhere to go but up.

I’ll be back. Psycho Wyco was a blast, and I sure don’t like a course to get the better of me. Here’s the finish, with apologies to Ryan Hall:

psychowyco2014-3-311psychowyco2014-3-312psychowyco2014-3-313psychowyco2014-3-314psychowyco2014-3-315psychowyco2014-3-316

Disney World at marathon minus one week = #tapermadness

One way to make sure you’re tapering enough before your fall marathon is to take a vacation right before it!

Yes, I know taper madness properly refers to that stir crazy feeling I’m supposed to be getting by reducing my mileage in the 2-3 weeks leading up to a marathon. Of course I’m not seriously advocating this vacation over-tapering as a strategy for running your best, but there are times when something has got to give. I try to place family before running.

I’m running the Kansas City marathon 10/19. We left for Disney World 10/4 and returned 10/13 (we drove). 10/6 began 6 days of gluttony. Disney has some great food, and I ate my fair share of it. In addition to walking all over the place while at the parks, I did get in 4 runs over that stretch. Not exactly according to my training schedule, but not entirely off the wagon either.

So, while I don’t think I am at peak fitness for this race, I feel good about going out with Nelson and the 3:15 pace group. He is going to pull away at the halfway point. I will try to go with him. I don’t think that will be a problem – like most people I am feeling my best at that time. It’s the final 6.2 that will determine the price I will pay for overindulging last week! I am just going to try to enjoy the race and encourage Nelson to a sub 3:15. He’s had some great training runs and he’s healthy – he should crush that time! John, my other running buddy 10 years my junior, is dealing with a foot issue, but is capable of a 3:00 marathon or better. I don’t think I’ll be trying to stick with him this time around, although it would be great to have someone pacing to a sub 3:00 – one of my “doable” goals. Maybe next year!

I boosted my confidence a bit with a “dress rehearsal” run tonight – just 6 miles, with 2 at “race pace.” I suppose that is going to be 7:14, but I actually felt really good tonight and I went under 7:00 for both of those miles. I love the cooler weather – cool means speed!

#ketogenic diet: the experiment concludes

As I tweeted last Thursday, I called it quits after 6 weeks on a ketogenic diet. Basically, I decided to go back to carbs because I just didn’t feel like tolerating the valleys anymore, along with a near-constant feeling like I was at 80%. Being on carbs means feeling 100% most of the time, with the occasional low spot, easily cured by a quick hit of sugar. Being on fat means 80% most of the time, with an expected evening dip. The only time I didn’t feel at 80% was when I was exercising, or for several hours afterwards, presumably because that’s when my ketone production was cranked up.

I terminated the experiment just 3 weeks out from the KC Marathon. I would have liked to assess performance there while fully keto-adapted, but I just couldn’t stomach (pun intended) the thought of going to Disney with my family and saying no to all the stuff I am going to want to eat there. Disney has some excellent restaurants, and we have long since had reservations set up for them. Plus, I just wasn’t sure I’d have the energy level necessary to go 18 hours a day there like we usually do. Even with those excuses aside, I really didn’t feel like 3 more weeks of it regardless, even in an easier setting.

I’d like to run well at KC. It’s hard to say what the diet has done to the 4 weeks after Heart of America from a training perspective. I don’t know that I have either gained or lost any fitness during that period. There hasn’t been as much speed work as I would like during the last month. It feels like I have been doing a lot of medium intensity, medium length runs. I can comfortably say that I feel like I have enough time to switch back over to carbs before 10/19. I’ll be trying to toss in a lot of fartleks during the taper, which began this week.

Yes, there has been some sugar binging in the last few days. (mmm, donuts). I think I’m ready to move on now. I’m going back to semi-Paleo (meaning plus dairy, with one cheat day per week).

#ketogenic diet: week 5

I’m at the 5 week mark today. This week went MUCH better than the previous one. After a real low spot leading into the 4 week mark, I was getting discouraged. However, after re-emphasizing fat and trying again to make sure I didn’t over-emphasize protein, I felt much better. Two more tricks have been 1) trying to make sure I get enough salt (thanks, bullion cubes!) and 2) a Fourthmeal/snack about an hour before bed. Altogether, I have had much more energy upon waking, and I haven’t had any malaise/run-down feeling this last week. It had been getting particularly bad in the evenings. So, it looks like I’ll try to keep this up at least through the KC Marathon to see how it affects performance!

By the numbers: #milleniumclub and #ketogenic diet

I realize this is kind of a “yay, me” post, but I went over the 1000 mile mark for 2013 today on my am run. No, I didn’t go to a strip club, as the title may suggest. That number may not seem like a lot to some, but it’s an all-time high for me. I was in the 900s in 2012 and 2011, the latter being the first in which I first upped my mileage into the marathon training range. Prior to that I was a casual 5 miles, 3 or 4 times a week.

A quick ketosis update too: another low spot last night. I was feeling REALLY lethargic and discouraged. The RHSW suggested I check my levels, the result: 0.3. Not good. So, I ate a small fourthmeal of a hunk of cheese and some cole slaw. I checked fasting this am, and hit a 1.7. I felt better on waking, but still felt like I was struggling during a pretty fast (sub 8) 6 miles with Jeremy, followed by a 1 mile cool-down. I suspect that I may not be eating enough fat, or too much protein, or a combination of the two – despite my considerable efforts to push fat. I am at the 4 week mark. I am going to give this thing two more week and then make a decision on whether to go forward or punt. If I haven’t kicked the malaise by then, I’m not sure this is going to work for me. If so, I’ll go back to my semi-Paleo diet but return to the ranks of the carb-burners.

#ketones – kinda like diesel

I am nearly a month into my ketogenic diet experiment. There have been some highs and lows. Most recently on Monday – an “off” day – I felt some big-time malaise. Really low energy. However, on Tuesday after going to the gym in the am with the RHSW, I felt really good. Another good day today after 8+ miles in the am.

On my run this morning, I came up with the analogy of how burning ketones in your body is kinda like burning diesel in a car. If you’ve ever driven a diesel, or even just read about them, you know that they don’t accelerate quite as fast as a gasoline-powered car. However, once they get up to speed, they can go much farther than a gas car.

Ketosis feels like this. I’ve never been a morning person, but it seems to make things a bit more draggy in the morning. However, if I take off on a run or work out, that seems to trigger enough ketone production that I coast the rest of the day with a pretty good energy level. I suppose a diet that encourages you to be active every day isn’t a bad thing!

I’m still committed to sticking this out through the KC Marathon to see what performance benefits/detriments it holds after having acclimated (which probably wasn’t fully accomplished for HOA). On the bright side, if it’s a bust, then donuts.

HOA #marathon in @skorarunning Base #ketogenic race report

I ran the Heart of America Marathon on Labor Day in Columbia, MO. The HOA is considered “one of the most difficult nonmountain marathon courses in the nation,” going from downtown Columbia down to the Missouri River and back up. I placed 3rd in my age group and ran the course almost 3 minutes faster than last year. The field had a ton of talent up at the top – despite running faster I came in 23rd – I was 11th last year! Sometimes, whether or not you pick up any hardware depends on who else shows up – even if you have a great day. I ran a 3:19:51.8 – a 7:37 pace. Lucky for me, only two faster guys my age showed up, so I got this:

2013-09-02_12-48-16_342

I wore the Skora Base shoe. I put over 100 miles on this shoe pre-race and was very comfortable with it going in. I’m really happy with how it functioned during the race. I used an Iniji toe sock which kept me from having any blistering or rubbing between the toes. The Base held up great on what is primarily a pavement course. There is a three-mile section of gravel just before midway – although this is actually my favorite surface to run on in the Base. I love how this shoe just disappears – if I’m not thinking about my shoes during a marathon, that’s ideal. You need something on this course with the gravel section and a significantly long newly paved section that is rough, not smooth (I’m sure there is a highway construction term for this). Some guy ran it barefoot last year, but I didn’t hear about anyone trying this year. You would have to go in the ditch on that new section – nobody’s callouses could hold up to it. The Base was just enough without being too much.

Here’s a shot of the shoes at the finish line:

IMG_5576

This was my first race on the ketogenic diet. I switched over on 8/15, so I may not even be fully keto-adapted. I cut out fiber the day before, eating primarily fat with some protein. Unfortunately, I either went to bed too soon after eating the night before the race, or had some food poisoning. I woke up just over an hour before my alarm was going to go off, and seriously thought I was not going to be able to toe the starting line. Either way, I don’t believe this had anything to do with my dietary switch. I haven’t had any such issues before long runs. Fortunately, when the alarm went off at 4:45, I felt better, so I decided to give it a go. I had two cups of coffee with heavy whipping cream for a bit of fat. I was slightly concerned that I might be low on potassium after eating zero veggies the day before, so I added a 1/4 tsp of No Salt (potassium chloride) to my second cup of coffee. It was one of those spur of the moment decisions. I need to research this more to see how long potassium stays in the system. Too much or too little can be dangerous, so don’t try this at home. I liberally salted food the day before, so no worries on the sodium front – I also had a 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds the day before for some magnesium. I drank about a liter of water – half when I got up, the other half right before the gun. I ran the whole race on nothing but water. No Gatorade, no gels, etc. Just the fat in my body. The proof is in the pudding – I was a little distracted after the race – lots of friends and family around – but I checked my ketone levels 40 minutes after I stopped running, and they were 5.4 mmol. Definitely “in the zone” and then some, without getting too high.

So, on to the race itself. My plan was to go out at a 3:10 pace and see what developed. I didn’t have any trouble whatsoever keeping that up on the first half of the course, easily hitting my target pace of 7:14 with the exception of mile 2 (a 7:25 thanks to the Providence hill) and mile 8 (a 7:53 on a tough uphill stretch on Old Plank road). I cruised down through the gravel stretch to mile 12.5, an aid station just before Easley Hill. At this point I was on target, but knowing a negative split was unlikely. I jokingly asked the high school kids manning the aid station at Easley if it was all downhill from there, and they corrected me with some horror before I let them know I was joking. I got a good laugh out of them. Easley Hill, just ahead, is the worst of the hills – there is a stretch of about 1/3 mile that is over an 11% grade. Beat that, Heartbreak Hill!

My HOA “mentor” – the amazing Tom May (just a few years my senior, he ran a personal course PR just over 3:01 this year) advises running Easley Hill until you reach the guard rail and your heart rate redlines, then walk briskly while your HR goes down until you can start running again. I did this, and looked back to see some runners catching up to me as I walked. However, when I hit the top and started running again, after a few minutes I had opened up a sizeable gap on everyone who gassed themselves running the 11% grade. Thanks Tom!

Once you top Easley Hill, there’s a feeling that the worst is over – for a while. I had several great miles in this middle section – buoyed my awesome race-chasing cheering section! I was overtaken by one guy I never saw again, and also passed back and forth with the women’s winner and another guy through Rock Bridge State Park.

Mile 20 is completed at the top of another big hill – I again alternated some brisk walking and running near the top of this one, and was rewarded with overtaking another runner shortly after. I never felt a “bonk” per se thanks to the fat-burning – and my next couple miles were back down in the sevens. However, this course has one last trick up its sleeve – the long uphill on Providence to Faurot Field ending at the 24 mile mark. I slowed a bit on this hill and took a quick walk break – my third – about 10 seconds – to get my pulse back. I was the passer and passee on this tough final stretch. There were only a few people in view at this point in the race, but there is nothing that motivates you to keep moving like hearing footsteps. Again, no bonk, although I did notice some generalized tightness developing in my leg muscles in mile 25. Thankfully, no calf cramps, as I have occasionally experienced in the final 6 miles. I managed to kick it back up to target pace for the final 0.6 as I came onto Broadway. I love how you can see the finishing chute from a fairly long way off at HOA. Simon Rose – a local media personality – was announcing finishers. I played soccer against him when I was in law school – I should say football though as he’s from Manchester! The crowd was really loud and enthusiastic at the finish – what a great reward, topped off by having my immediate and extended family there for hugs and photos. I also reconnected with Tom May and Andy Emerson, another local runner (tops in my age group – I believe he had run Leadville 2 weeks prior!).

The sense of community at this race is capped off by the pizza party and awards ceremony at Shakespeare’s after the race. I abstained from the carbs – barely…

HOA – I’ll be back!

Nutritional #ketosis begins!

Since I’m at the 2 week mark, I tested my fasting blood ketones this morning. The result: 0.7 mmol. I’m relieved by that number.

“a therapeutic range of blood ketone levels for an athlete starts at 0.5 millimolar BOHB at the lower end and improves up to 3.0 millimolar.”

Phinney, Stephen; Volek, Jeff (2012-06-15). The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance (p. 91). Beyond Obesity LLC. Kindle Edition.

The optimal zone is around 1.5 to 3.0 millimolar, but I’ve read that it can take up to a month to get there. I’m going to do a few more fasting tests before Monday, then also test after my Saturday am run. Granted, that run is just a 5 mile recovery with 6 100m strides, but it’s the most I’ll be doing before the HOA Monday. Of course I’ll test after the race too. Levels should be highest post-exercise.

The Deep End? My #HFLC experiment begins…

Am I off it? Time will tell. My research into electrolytes and optimal carb loading during the marathon has led me off in an unexpected direction. Nelson has been quoting and recommending Prof. Tim Noakes for some time – mainly his seminal work “The Lore of Running.” I started following him on Twitter a while back, but recently became intrigued by a linked podcast where he was interviewed on the HFLC/LCHF (I’ve seen it both ways, c’mon people let’s pick one) High Fat Low Carb Diet. I also picked up his book “Challenging Beliefs” which has several chapters on the subject and uses the more cumbersome term “high-fat/high-protein/low-carbohydrate diet.” I’m going with HFLC.

This is going to be (for me) a quick post, but the point of this method of eating is getting off the carb/blood sugar pendulum and teaching your body to burn fat with the attendant health and performance benefits (no wall?)

I decided to launch into it Thursday evening. There was a fairly short and fairly mild acclimatization period. My only symptom was a light headache (to be expected from what I read) on Friday. I felt great on a long run Saturday with 12 sub-7:30 miles on my way to 16. It was a depletion run – nothing but water. There was no bonk like I had experienced a couple of weeks before on an attempted depletion run of the same distance. My Sunday morning recovery run found me about 0:30 faster than usual – I struggle with a decent pace on this run although I realize it doesn’t need to be that fast.

With any luck this means my body has happily switched over to using ketones for fuel. I’m still researching what to do during/before a race. Ultramarathoner Timothy Allen Olson eats this way. I am looking forward to listening to a podcast interview with him on the way home today. I figure he’s fairly credible since he won the Western States 100 in 2012! [EDIT: and 2013! Wow. Article with podcast link predated WS 2013.] Wish me luck!