Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Fat load preceding the carbo load

From Matt Fitzgerald:
research has shown that a short-term high-fat diet that immediately precedes the traditional pre-race carbo load offers the best of both worlds. 10 days of fat-loading are enough to increase the muscles’ fat-burning capacity, while the subsequent three-day carbo load ensures muscles also have plenty of glycogen available.
In 2001, Vicki Lambert, an exercise scientist at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, tested the effects of 10 days of fat loading followed by three days of carbo loading on endurance performance in cyclists. After warming up with two hours of moderate-intensity cycling, Lambert’s subjects were able to complete a 20K time trial 4.5 percent faster after using this protocol than they did when carb loading was preceded by their normal diet.
To get these benefits in your next marathon you’ll have to get 65 percent of your calories from fat every day for ten days starting two weeks before your race. This means virtually everything you eat will need to be high in healthy fats. Recommended staples for fat loading are avocadoes, Greek yogurt, cheese, eggs, nuts, olives and olive oil, salmon, and whole milk.
Read more at http://running.competitor.com/2013/11/nutrition/the-new-rules-of-marathon-nutrition_67841/5#2mjd2EUpypgfsTpK.99
This will be interesting to try (and tasty). Good thing avocados are cheap at the moment. I will be indulging in this diet immediately after my long run on Sunday.

Foods high in dietary nitrates have shown to have a positive effect on muscular performance; therefore, before I leave the house I will whip up a small spinach smoothie (something I have quite regularly anyway, though this time I will skip the fruit to avoid intestinal issues).

As for fluids, Fitzgerald says that we should drink often, but not overdo it. Drink when thirsty, basically.

As for eating during the race, eating roughly 120 calories worth of banana or orange slices (they'll even have chocolate at this race) every 45 minutes or so seems to be the agreed upon amount. Of course, some people rely on gels, though I'm just going to stick to the freebies at the race and not burden myself with having to carry gel packets. So, since I want to finish in under 3:20:00, I will need to eat at 45 minutes, 1:30:00, 2:15:00, and probably something small again at 2:30. The body takes about 45 minutes to process the sugar and release the energy to the muscles.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Tune-up Long Run and the Home Stretch

I had a fairly successful run on Sunday. The workout called for a 26.2km tune-up run at marathon pace, but this being my first marathon coupled with the string of injuries I've had recently, I thought I'd tone that workout down just slightly, so I revised it to 4 x 5km at marathon pace. The pace I'm shooting for is either 4:40 or 4:45 per kilometer. That would bring me in right around 3hrs 20min. A solid effort for my first marathon, in my opinion.

I felt strong and maintained the pace. Time of feet was right around 2 hours. With a taper and this final big week of running (I'm shooting for 88km/55 mi), to finally hit that mark would relieve a mental burden that came with some of those foot/ankle injuries. In addition, the wind was really whipping that day, I was running on a fairly full stomach, and there were seven ninety-degree turns on the 5km loop that I ran each segment. All that said, I feel that 4:40 or 4:45 will feel a lot easier on race day.

Today is the first workout of the 88km week. It's a 30-minute tempo run that partially runs along the race course. No turn. No cars. Just me and the wind. Me and my body, mind, and sould. 16 kilometers in total with a few plyometric exercises at the end. I hope to sleep well tonight. I hope to continue down this path that I'm on. And I look forward to few upticks in fitness that this week should bring.

I hope that your life is active and you are finding ways to balance your mind, body, and soul. Please say hi in the comments if you have a second.

I'm hoping to post on this later on, but the book I'm reading right now is blowing me away. It's called The Temple of the Golden Pavillion, a modern Japanese classic translated to English.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Under the Moon

Winter's full moon isn't appreciated as much as its spring, summer, or fall versions. Folks tend to not want to stand still and gaze at it while the wind is whipping and their noses go numb and drippy. Us runners, however, get moving in little more than a windbreaker and the elements are ineffective in administering their usual pain. Last night during a short recovery run, I had my eye on the moon and a sense of wonder in my heart.

The stars shone brilliantly as well. The lunar and stellar effects reduced me to nothing but a miniscule entity on a sturdy, yet comparatively small rock in space. Upon saying this one might misconstrue my words as negative. Rather, this feeling of being miniaturized and trivialized empowers a person. He knows that he is not alone, that he is a necessary part of the whole. Yes, necessary. Without him, the universe wouldn't be the same. Only when he feels large and puffed up -- grandiose in body and soul -- does he feel lonely, does he suffer under the burdens of fictitious expectations and cooked-up social pressures.

Image result for moon

Out on the roads and in the rice fields where I bound, I felt free from those things. During my post-run strides (runner-speak for short sprints), I imagined the moon tugging me along with its gravitational power. I relaxed my body and trusted that all was right in the world.

Side note: Below are two songs about the moon that I love.

The Moon by The White Buffalo

I Wish I Was The Moon by Neko Case

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Dealing With Running Injury (Morton's neuroma)

My marathon training has suffered a few hiccups of late. First, I had a sore ankle, the pain sitting more or less on the top of the foot near the outside of the ankle. A slight roll that I exacerbated by not taking a rest day when I should have. Lesson learned. That subsided with rest. Second, only after the second scheduled run back after the ankle sprain, I felt the popping on the bottom of my foot that has plagued me in the past. I'm fairly certain it's Morton's neuroma, which is nerve damage/inflammation of a nerve that is connected to the third toe.

Symptoms include numbness in the second and third toes when running, as well as a popping in the bottom of the foot on the occasional step taken. The sensation isn't necessarily acute pain, but rather an uncomfortable feeling accompanied by the sense that acute pain will follow if this action is repeated for a prolonged amount of time.

As for treatment there are a few options, one of which is a cortisone shot that I'm intrigued by. I also read about orthotic inserts, massaging, icing, and toe spacing. My intuition tells me that my big toe isn't gripping the ground forcefully enough while I run, nor are my other toes splayed widely for incidental support. I've known this for some time because my eyes-closed balancing practice is much harder to perform on this injured side than the healthy one. I bought some five finger toe socks and am working on splaying my big toe out using a spacer so that it properly aligns with the connecting bone in my foot. I am also getting more aggressive with the pressure I put while massaging now that I am pretty sure this isn't a soft tissue issue. This thread on r/running proved to be useful for anyone with similar pain.

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Running and Presence

If you have read George Sheehan or Amby Burfoot, what follows might sound repetitive; however, reiteration begets understanding. This is nothing more than spreading the gospel of running and presence, and one would hope this doesn't come across akin to a reading directly from The Good Book. One would hope this message is seasoned with a few flakes of originality and not repackaged like last night's dinner, served cold for lunch today.

Note: Please substitute the word "running" with any interest of yours that requires full body and mind awareness to succeed at (e.g. painting, tennis, swimming, guitar, etc...). I am tempted to leave sexual exploits as separate from this discussion because, although they captivate us totally, they require submission, as well as partnership and dependency, to succeed at. But feel free to disagree with me on that one if you'd like.

I had heard of the runner's high, of course, but nothing that I had ever heard or read could have prepared me for the inner stillness that running has taught me. Obviously, it is still a work in progress, as are all things in this life, and I hate to sound bombastic, boastful, or, worse yet, fool hearty (after all, I still haven't even finished my first full marathon), but to be silent about the benefits of running would be shameful.

There is a point at the end of the warmup where the body turns on and the mind turns off. For those first ten minutes or so, the mind continues to race and body feels jerky and tight. The work feels taxing and the mind cries foul, insisting that it is not up for the demands and expectations of the workout that given day.

But the scales start to tilt in the direction of the body. The heart begins to take over as the focal point of consciousness. The mind quiets down, and something about it feels thankful for this. Like an overheating engine in dire need of a break, the brain relishes the opportunity to rest, to take a back seat and let another stakeholder take the reins.

Come to think of it, my newly acquired GPS watch has a tiny role to play in allowing the seamless transition from mind to body, from thinking to feeling, to take place. Before the watch, the mind found a place for itself in the game of training. (As much as the mind likes to take a break, it will volunteer itself at even the weakest excuse for its use. In this case, it was needed to help with pacing calculations and distance tracking.) The watch eliminated such a need and put the mind to rest once and for all.
Running with presence

As many runners know, time seems to stop while out on the road or the trail. The hips churn the legs underneath the body in a cycle of smooth symmetry. The mind may pop up to provide reminders about posture, foot placement, or hip rotation, but once in the groove, that mischief maker knows its place. It lies dormant. It knows its time to wreak havoc will come again. Just not yet.

It is remarkable to think that as my mileage increases (45 miles last week) the amount of trouble my mind is able to cause me decreases. I have spent my time at work and at home under less stress than I have ever known. All thanks to my heart and to the body that it drives. For as robotic and monotonous as it can seem to outsiders, running is the most liberating, presence-inducing tool that I have yet to encounter in life. No, it's not the same as meditation, but it teaches me that suppressing the mind isn't as hard as one would think. More profoundly, it teaches me vividly that I am not my mind. I am something much deeper, something much closer to my heart.

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