Okay, so maybe not easy, but certainly easier!
Let me back up a bit. This was me last September. I had just completed my 4th marathon, and PR’d by 8 minutes. I was feeling pretty good about myself. The previous spring my son had convinced me to switch up my training a bit. After complaining about how my marathon time was always the same, no matter how I was feeling or what the conditions were, he offered me some advice. I believe his words were, “Mom, if all you do is long, slow distance, all you will be able to do is long, slow distance.” He had a point.
So…I found a new training plan. Each week, I did a tempo run, a speed workout, and a long run. The other days I cross trained. I hated the tempo runs and speed workouts so much, that I really looked forward to my long runs each week. It paid off!!! Not only did I PR, but I qualified for Boston. (Keep in mind that I am old, and it doesn’t take as much to qualify when you are old… but still.)
Then, a week after the marathon, this happened:
I was out on a bike ride with my husband, took a corner too wide, and got into the gravel on the side of the road. I tried (a bit too aggressively) to get back on the road, my tire turned, and I couldn’t get my feet out of my toe clips to save myself. I then biked 5 miles home. First broken bone of my life. And, it just so happened it was my right (dominant) elbow. That in itself is a story.
Anyway…I digress. I was benched (can runners get benched?) until the middle of December. I resumed running, and my goal was to run a 1/2 marathon the following May. I used the same training approach and faithfully resumed my tempo runs, speed workouts, and long runs on the treadmill at the Y. It was a frigid, icy winter in Wisconsin and I didn’t want to risk falling. Plus I was too big of a wimp to venture out when the wind chill was below zero.
Then, on my first long run outside (end of March “ish”), I developed severe knee pain. I couldn’t run. After resting it without much success, I went to the chiropractor, and started therapy. I missed running the 1/2 marathon. You can read about that here. By the beginning of June it wasn’t any better. So, I ended up getting a cortisone shot which thankfully, allowed me to get back on track (pun intended).
So, I resumed my training. I still had some discomfort in my knee, but I could run!!
And that brings me to the present. Last week, I had an incredibly lousy long run…13 miles and I felt tired and weak from mile 8 on. Yuck. I hate runs like that. This was not normal, so I tried to figure out what was going on. My problem solving brought me to Brendan Brazier’s book Thrive.
Although I enjoyed reading the whole book, my focus was really on nutrition before, during, and after exercise. Now keep in mind, I eat MOSTLY a whole food, plant based diet (and 99% Vegan)…so I feel pretty good about the food I put into my body, BUT I learned a lot about the specifics on how energy is transferred from food to your body. Your body’s needs are different during low intensity, moderate intensity and high intensity exercise. It all made sense to me. Brandan even called me out (okay, maybe not me personally, but people like me who do not eat ANYTHING before or during long runs).
Eager to see if Brendan’s philosophy worked, I decided to try a couple of recipes from the book. The first one was for Energy Pudding, which I used as my pre-run food for my 18 miler.
Here is the recipe from the book Thrive:
1/2 c. dates
1/4 c. ground flaxseed
1/4 c. cacao nibs
1 T. coconut oil
1 t. lemon juice
1/4 t. sea salt
Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.
This made 2 servings and I ate one about a half hour before my run.
Then, along the way, I fueled up with his Direct Fuel Bites:
Direct Fuel Bites
2 T. coconut oil
2 t. lemon zest
1 t. lemon juice
sea salt to taste
I processed the dates first, then added the other ingredients and processed until smooth. Each ball was about 1-1 1/2 T. each).
I ate 4 bites during my run (18 miles). My first was at about 6 miles, and then I ate another one every 2-3 miles after that.
Along the way, I also sipped on coconut water.
Guess what happened? In true Karen form, I felt “blah” the first 2 1/2 – 3 miles. (And this, folks, is the reason I do not enjoy 5 K’s). Then…I got into the zone. My watch beeped every mile, and with each beep my optimism grew. Around mile 16 I came across another runner, and my competitive nature took over. I ran an 8 minute mile, because I wanted (needed?) to stay ahead of him. Thank goodness our paths parted, because mile 17-18 was big payback time. But…I still felt pretty good…I just couldn’t maintain the pace.
Once I got home I made myself a smoothie. I took a shower and went on with my day…forgetting that I had even run!!
After 30+ years of running, lesson learned. If you are looking to get all you can out of your body, I highly recommend reading the book Thrive. And although I would love to get paid for promoting the book, the reality is, I’m not.