Category Archives: Tailwind

Vary Your Training

It’s been a while since I posted something to my running/nutrition blog, but while I ran hills this morning I thought it would be worth sharing a bit of the last year or so of training failures and successes.

I’m totally in for a 50 miler this spring. After two weeks of hard training things are looking good – my knees are holding their own. This has placed me in a very good state of mind lately and it’s mainly due to the energy I have been deriving from harder training. This has not always been the case. I’ve spent the last year somewhat sidelined due to nagging injuries while trying to maintain a healthy aerobic base and enough supplementary strength work to rehabilitate/preserve/restore those injuries.

As a relentless self-experimenter, halfway through my training for my first 50k, I started to experiment with becoming a better “fat-burner” after reading about Zach Bitter and some lower carbohydrate using endurance athletes. I don’t know whether or not this improved my ability to use fat as energy. It must have because I was not using carbohydrates and something was getting me through the long runs. But, in retrospect, I feel like I was not running my best. I have a sneaking suspicion that my performance took a turn for the worse close to the end of my 50k training schedule. When you self-experiment, you have to learn from your mistakes and adapt or adjust.

There are studies now showing certain positive aspects to adapting your body to use more fat for energy (i.e. develop a strong aerobic base) especially for endurance athletes. However, if you train in one modality, I feel it will limit your potential. In my experience, after 8+ months of aerobic threshold training and lower-carbohydrate eating, I found my speed diminishing considerably. Despite strength workouts, my hill running became non-existent because my heart rate monitor would demand a slower pace. Doing this without fuel was perhaps a mistake but there is so much literature and “experts” out there encouraging the train low race high without addressing common pitfalls. What is worth noting, too, is that my enthusiasm for running started fading and energy for other endeavors also started wavering.

I recently re-reread Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra, Matt Fitzgerald’s Racing Weight, and Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run. It prompted me to start fueling again during most training runs and guess what? My performance is getting better by the second. Literally. I’m faster, my workouts are more intense, I’m more positive, I have more energy post-workout, and my endorphins are on the rise. I will still do some fasted workouts but I will be more strategic about it. So, the takeaway points, for me in this training cycle are what might seem like back to basics for most experienced runners but they are worth noting:

  1. Vary the modalities of your training: long, tempo, hill sprints, solely aerobic (heart rate), cross-training, strength, etc…You can try to cram two or three modalities into one week but do low-intensity between hard days (long, hills, tempo). Don’t be afraid to walk.
  2. For god’s sake, eat real food (lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, tubers, lean meats, buts and seeds) or as mobility and CrossFit guru, Kelly Starrett, says, “Don’t eat like an asshole!” If you are putting in the miles, eat a lot of carbohydrates before (2+ hours) and fuel with carbohydrates and protein (brown bananas, mangos, spinach, and vegan protein smoothie work for me!) afterwards to recover quickly.
  3. You will become a better fat burner if you wait 2-3 hours after a meal to do your workout. It’s a-ok to fuel while you run if you are doing a hard workout. You may burn more glycogen but your metabolism will make up for it post-workout by utilizing more fat while you recover. My favorites intra-workout fuels right now are: Tailwind and Skratch.
  4. Sleep more.

Later.

 

Pre 50M#1 Part 1

Over the last 4 days my legs have been very sore. I’ve been walking down stairs backwards, using my arms to prop myself up, and stretching the muscles of my legs a bit more each day. On the advice of my long time friend, Western States finisher, Rolfer, and go to guy for fixing my legs, Art Riggs, I’ve been walking and this morning placed my bike on the trainer and went for an hour. Things are starting to feel normal again.

The physical idleness has not kept me from thinking about the American River 50M ultramarathon in April, how the next training cycle will look, and, of course, what I could improve both in training and on race day. I’m still interested in existing on that fine line between keeping my body from falling apart and training intensely enough to perhaps reach a higher personal peak in physical performance.

So, how am I going to adapt/evolve for the next training cycle? First, I am pretty sure my diet is going to stay close to Ben Greenfield’s Low Carbohydrate Diet for Traitheles and Vespa’s OFM protocol. Second, I am going to incorporate more speed work, cross-training, hiking with a weighted vest, and trail running into the fold. While I did do some cross-training in the form of strength and HIIT, I did not do speed work or too much trail running in my last cycle. And, third, in addition to doing a lot of fasted runs, I am going to “practice” different nutritional approaches during the long ones (16-30 milers): one where I am fueling with UCAN Super Starch, one where I am using Tailwind’s carbohydrate/electrolyte drink, and one where I am eating real food – nuts, bananas, chia, coconut oil, potato, etc… as I prepare for the 50 miler. I’d like to see what life without gels is like and how slow a trickle of carbohydrate intake keeps the fat burning and the energy constant.

Next Post: 50M Training Schedule.