Training for Success
Do you have to eat every 2 hours? Get HANGRY if you don’t? Are you able to go go go all day long then crash once you actually sit down? Require a giant glass of wine/beer after work just to “unwind”? Use working out to beat yourself up as a stress relief? Have trouble falling asleep? Wake up in the middle of the night, unable to fall back asleep?
This defined me. Family and friends knew meals and snacks were a necessity if you didn’t want the bitch to come out. Missing a meal was never an option.
I finally ran a sub 2 hour half marathon! FUCK YEA – 1:59:38 – AHHHHHH!
This training cycle was different. My focus for all of 2017 has been getting my stress under control. Stress is so much more than the expected work and personal. News flash – working out is another form of stress on your body. In the past working out to the point of exhaustion was my style, but that was only putting me in a hypoadrenic state, not allowing my body to actually respond properly.
I’m definitely type A, but I do delegate things…only when I know others are better than I. Luckily my BFF Alex has been a runner all her life so she dictates the training programs. She came up with a plan, incorporating my triathlons and her races, so we didn’t miss a beat. To my surprise, I actually stuck with it! Okay, so long runs were the only thing programmed, but I didn’t miss one!
For the first 2 months, I did supplement my training with going to CrossFit at least twice a week, but after the last triathlon (like 5 weeks ago) I haven’t gone back. Life has gotten crazy with work, the NTP program, renovations, etc. that I couldn’t be controlled by another schedule. I needed the freedom of sleeping in if I wanted, working late, meal prepping, taking the dog out so he wasn’t driving us nuts, etc. So instead, at least twice a week I went for runs with my dog Kingston. He dictates speed and distance so these were never strenuous or what most people would consider a training run. It got me outdoors and my legs moving instead of sitting in a chair staring at my computer for another hour.
For the first time in 9 years, this is the least I have worked out, especially when training for a half marathon. I trained for 12 weeks (?) by getting my weekend long runs done and then doing what my body wanted during the week: yoga, walks, CrossFit, a quick 5 minutes at home bodyweight workout, nothing…I didn’t let training control me.
This was the overhaul. This is what made every difference. If you have plateaued and don’t see results, change your diet. And don’t call it a diet, it’s a lifestyle! I get questioned ALLL THE time, oh you don’t eat carbs, oh you’re not going to drink. Honestly, no and I’m not “missing” anything. I am choosing not to put those toxins in my body. They do not provide my body the fuel it needs for optimal health/performance. Sure it’s a few seconds of tasteful bliss when eating a bagel, but then I don’t feel great for HOURS after. Seconds vs. hours…why would I consume something that makes me feel like crap and drains all my energy. What is the point?
Slowly, I am trying to transition from a sugar-burner to a fat-burner. It isn’t easy and I definitely wouldn’t say I got my shit together. But our bodies are meant to run on fat for fuel, our hearts prefer fat for energy! Athletes are told to carb-load before games and races. But news flash, our bodies can only store so much glucose (carbs), the rest is stored as fats. The worse part is, if you are a sugar-burner which most of us are, you are unable to breakdown that fat for energy!
HOW IT IS SUPPOSE TO WORK
Yes, your body relies on glucose for energy, it is what fuels us. Glucose can be stored within our bodies as glycogen which is first stored within our liver then our muscles. If those are full, the remaining glucose is converted to triglycerides and cholesterol (FAT!) for storage. Glycogen can be converted back into glucose by our liver. However, the glycogen stored within our muscles, only provides fuel for that muscle.
When you eat carbs, the pancreas releases insulin to stimulate the uptake of glucose into your cells. Not only is insulin used to bring energy into your cells, but it is key for the storage of glucose as glycogen.
Glucagon is released from the pancreas in between meals to increase your blood sugar levels to bring them back to normal. It does this by stimulating the liver to convert it’s stores of glycogen to glucose OR converts circulating amino acids into glucose both which are to be released into the blood stream. If you are fat burner, glucagon will stimulate the liver to convert fat into glucose.
IT ALL COMES BACK TO STRESS…
Our adrenals release cortisol when blood sugar levels are low and are not sufficiently supported by glucagon. Cortisol is also released when our bodies sense stress. Stress can range from an email that erks you to a fight with a friend to working out. Our bodies do not differentiate stress, it is all perceived the same.
This is where it gets nasty for athletes. Cortisol mobilizes proteins from skeletal tissue so that our livers can convert into glucose, but it also inhibits the uptake of glucose for storage. If we are chronically stressed, we are just breaking down our muscles for energy and unable to store glycogen for future reserves (for like when we are doing intense workouts).
This is why I have an issue with carb loading for athletic events now. Carbs equate to kindling, providing a quick source of energy to start the fire where fats are the logs that allow the fire to burn for hours. A sugar-burner burns through glycogen stores fairly quickly during exercise. That’s why most people replenish with those sugary, gooey, yucky gels or sugary drinks. Our bodies are relying on carbs for quick energy to fuel the demands you put on your body.
Instead of fueling with chews/blocks during runs, I’ve worked on becoming a fat-burner and balancing my blood sugar. Yes, that means cutting carbs. For this training cycle, it meant eating all the vegetables from our CSA and supplementing with fruit once a day (okay, there were plenty of days that I had more than 1 fruit). Fruit was the biggest change, instead of 3x a day I may have some fruit with 1 meal or before going to bed. And for the month of October, NO FRUIT! No gluten = no bread or pasta before long runs. When I eat gluten I become sluggish, cutting this out alone I’ve seen major changes in my energy levels and stress response (specifically, at a work). Lots of fat. Not afraid of real butter, ghee, coconut oil/butter, avocado, nut butters, eggs, and bacon. If it is a healthy fat chances are I will eat it until someone takes it away from me.
So eat all the vegetables you want. Eat an adequate amount of protein, make sure it is from properly raised animals – quality matters and not only makes a HUGE difference in taste but provides the nutrients for optimal health and performance. Eat fat, add it to every meal. If every meal has a meat and decent amount of vegetables, but you are still hungry, you didn’t consume enough fat. Eating fat will not make you fat. Overconsumption of the wrong kind of carbohydrates will make you fat. Eating vegetables won’t make you fat. Grains and fruit, sorry to break it to ya, could make you fat. Processed foods, refined carbohydrates – these are quick sources of glucose for your body. As sugar burners, we thrive off of this, but remember our bodies only need so much and that is why most of us ride the blood sugar roller coater all day. If we are chronically stressed too, excess glucose will not be stored as glycogen for future reserves and instead will be stored as FAT. Which for most of us, we cannot utilize as energy!