Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Keto/Fat-Enabled Running

Coming up on New Year’s Day, I will be racing in my first 24 hour run. Last month I was trying to decide how I was going to effectively train and power my body through 24 hours of running. I’ve struggled from time to time with nutrition and overtraining issues. With regards to nutrition, I’ve managed to train my body to take in food over long trail runs. However, I’ve never enjoyed or had much success with the typical gels that runners and cyclists use during races. Sports drinks have, likewise, had mixed results during training and racing. With respect to training, I’ve gone the junk miles route with building a base and then ramping up to crazy miles to a peak and then tapering and I’ve done strength training with minimal miles - long and slow.

In my past training, I’ll freely admit that I’ve never been a stickler to any sort of diet. I generally eat healthy, but I do enjoy fast food and pizza. Those who know me well, know that I am a Pepsi addict. After biting the bullet and signing up for this race, I knew something had to change. I knew that I was not going to be able to continue with my status quo training methods. Over the past 7 years as a barefoot runner, I've come to learn a lot of things about how we as humans are designed and how my own body fits into that mold.

So, how did I end up at a Keto/fat-enabled training model? By accident.

It's funny how you come across things that you don't think will have a major impact on you until well after the fact. It's also amazing how the seemingly random puzzle pieces of life fall into place at the right time.

For those of you who have followed my journey, you know that I began barefoot running after reading Christopher McDougall's Born to Run. If you have read the book, you also realize that it is not really a book about barefoot running per se. However, the book has inspired a large number of people to take up barefoot running. When I read that book, I was looking for something to inspire me. I was a frustrated runner. I hated training for marathons, but I loved the challenge. After reading the book and jumping in feet first on barefoot running, my entire outlook on running changed.

Well, in 2015 McDougall wrote Natural Born Heroes. I recently listed to the audio version commuting to and from work. Again, I didn't really know much about the premise of the book, but it sounded interesting. From the get-go I was hooked - an amazing tale of WWII soldiers, amateur historians, natural movement, and human nutrition.

The book was actually a culmination of my personal journey of barefoot running to this point. I have been interested in natural movement since I began barefoot running. Parkour, natural fitness, barefoot running and paleo eating (although I hadn't actually made any nutritional changes) were all interests that have been evolving over the past 7 years. The book brought me around full circle to where I needed to be.

For the past month, I've been following Phil Maffetone, Primal Endurance Podcast and others in an attempt to alter my nutrition and training methods. I've cut out virtually all carbs and most if not all processed foods. My diet is more Primal with most days being under 50g of carbs in my low-carb, high fat diet. My race training has shifted from faster miles to long, slow miles with my heart rate under 136 bpm and occasional high intensity training sessions.

The frustrations with this new method has been with slowing down enough to keep my heart rate under control. Another difficulty has been adjusting what I eat and cutting out all processed foods - especially Pepsi! Old habits die hard. It's amazing how addicting sugar and processed foods are, but if you commit to 2 weeks of no sugar the effect can be life-changing. However, the payoff has really come in training. I have had sustained energy on runs and long hikes - many of which in a fasted state.

I will continue to write about this journey as my race approaches and the training evolves. Stay tuned!

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