I’m taking two days off before starting my next Chicago training phase. Although this is scary for any athlete to do, I know it is best for me. Jerry is editing that training phase as we speak, and I am really excited to see what it will look like. I know it’ll be the start of the crucial volume/intensity work, so even more incentive to make sure I’m rested up! Run easy (and rest) to run hard! 🙂
Before I go any further, I have to thank everyone here. Two separate people reached out to me with a similar tapering idea (see Evan’s comment, last post)… something that I think I’ll try if there’s another mid-cycle race in the plan. The more I thought about it, the more this has made sense. I always seem to be back to feeling springy and fast the Thursday after a taper week. You would have thought I would have put 2+2 together on this, but hadn’t. So this could be a really great change for me!
Another change I’ll make going forward, one that I am SUPER excited about it, is working with the Generation UCAN team. I found them through Rasa, my nutritionist, and a conversation with Gabe Anderson (who just ran a 4:01 in the 1500m over in Europe – WOW), and a webinar. There are several reasons I was looking for a different training and fueling product:
- Rasa has been after me about eating more before workouts, but I struggled to find what I could work with. My stomach explodes if I eat bread before a workout. That leaves oatmeal, bananas, and gels to work with. Not sure how much oatmeal I want to stuff into me – a normal or large bowl is exciting – but even more than that? My enthusiasm wanes.
- Dizziness during some of my workouts and most of my races. This cannot be normal. Heat related? I’ve had a few too many heat incidents, so that could be it. But I also think it’s partially blood sugar related.
- I am working on becoming a better fat burner. For the background on that, read here (test results) and here (advice from others). I don’t know if being a better fat burner actually makes you faster in races. Perhaps it allows for a better transition from burning glucose and glycogen to fat in the late stages of a marathon, but per Rasa, research on the actual benefits while racing are mixed at best. So… is it even important to try to be a fat burner then? Those fasted runs aren’t particularly fun, so if I don’t have to do them… 🙂
- After researching a lot more, I’ve come to the conclusion that it IS super valuable to teach your body to be a fat burner for workouts. This aids in the “leaning out” process. For me, who struggles to drop even a couple of pounds, this makes total sense. If I’m always using the carbs I’ve just eaten or the glycogen I have stored, then I’m not going to tap into my fat stores!
- I think my carb-burning tendencity is a result of genetics (some insulin/diabetes history in the family, also a lot of very heavy relatives – and not 50 lbs overweight, more like 200 lbs large) and also having eaten carbs predominantely for so long. I love breads, cereals, granola, oatmeal, and carbs in general!
- But, regardless of where you’re at, recreational runner or someone trying to lean up slightly for a focus race, the ability to burn fat is key (and sometimes the reason you’re exercising in general!). If you’re taking a sugary sports drink or eating a lot of carbs before a workout, your blood sugar spikes and insulin is released. Insulin tells the body to burn that glucose first, essentially “shutting off” the fat-burning process until blood sugar has been lowered. Insulin also triggers the storage of glucose, including storage in your fat cells. Enter a relatively new fueling option, the Super Starch. The product was originally found when trying to find a glucose option for children without the ability to convert glycogen due to a genetic disorder. Story here. Long story short, this starch is slow enough burning that it doesn’t trigger the release of insulin. So you’re able to still use the energy from the drink (carbohydrate in the drink) all while ALSO being able to burn fat. Many, many athletes have experimented with it and are finding great results energy-wise and body-composition-wise. Take a look at some of the research here as well.
With those three things in mind, I researched the heck out of products available and kept landing on UCAN. I knew this was a big change for me so wanted to be sure I was as well-read as I could be and choosing the right products. I then met UCAN’s nutritionist and co-founder at an Expo in Minneapolis recently and also talked with another great employee – all interactions that I was SO impressed with. They’re really a top notch company, and I don’t say that lightly. I secretly HOPED they’d consider sponsoring me, but also knew the athletes that they currently work with are Olympic medalists and truly top of their sport. It’s people like Meb, Olympian Julie Culley, former World Cross-Country Champion Benita Willis, Simon Bairu the Canadian 10k record holder… They also don’t sponsor many athletes.
|Yep, that’s right. I asked Meb for an autograph while I was out in New York for the ING NYC marathon!|
But, I am SO, SO, SO blessed to have them offer to work with me get me through Chicago and New York!!! The little farm girl in me is just giddy with excitement! As with anything I do, I’ll jump into this fully, fueling all pre-workouts with UCAN and recovering with their products as well (which is why I spent so much time researching – I don’t just want to try anything, and I felt like this would be a huge change for me, whatever products I switched to). I want to give the product as much of a chance to work and my body the best chance to adapt to it. I’ll be excited to share results with you all!
Also, I’ve taken the time to reflect on what I’ve done well these last 6-8 weeks. I’ve done really well with my nutrition, and although you can always do better (I am reminded every time I meet with Rasa!), I’m happy with where I’m at and will continue to fine tune things. The biggest differences I notice are my recovery times. I will be beat up after a long or hard run, but then feel recovered by that evening’s shake out run or the next morning’s run. I thank post-workout nutrition for that! I am so picky now about getting something in me immediately, even after something as short as a 30 minute run. I also am thinking through each meal to make sure it’s really balanced. How many food groups are there? My goal is to be at 4 (milk, protein, grain, fat, fruit, etc). It is now second nature (well, almost) for me to have a well-balanced meal and be satisfied with smaller portions but eating more frequently.
I also am just happy with my outlook. Despite some negative thinking yesterday, I KNOW I have something more in me. I can still vividly remember the “I believe in you!” stare that I got from Jerry when we talked about the structure of the Chicago plan – post here. That fire-y desire and irrationally positive belief are still in me, just a little buried lately. I know I can earn my way back to the start of another Olympic Trials. I WANT THIS!! I also realize how awesome of an opportunity to have – again, a small town farm girl without an all-star athletic background, but with an uncommon goal-orientation, attitude, and drive – to seek my potential and to be what I can be. Bring on these upcoming tough weeks, bring on those excruciating workouts (careful what I wish for, right Jerry?!?). Also, grant me the wisdom to realize when I need to back off and recover well. 🙂
Enough of me being wordy 🙂
I should mention: I was mentioned in Runner’s World! Link is here. Zoom Yah! Yah! is a great event and I’m glad I had the opportunity to do something that crazy. With that being said, let’s hope that record holds and I don’t have to race it again anytime soon! 🙂
|Yes, it was a crazy race!|
In the meantime, I’m enjoying the extra time to catch up on things, clean the house, and tackle a few projects. Life is great! Run happy!