nutrition, recovery & what's next

Pre-Race Nutrition
Coming up to this race, I decided to try an experiment with nutrition to see if it made a difference on race day.  About two weeks out, I cut out alcohol and as much white carbohydrates/refined sugar as I could.  I was essentially trying to eat lots of lean protein and get my carbohydrates from fruits & veggies instead of cupcakes and bread baskets.  Because I started my taper 10 days out, this overlapped with the end of a high-volume training block, so on my last long ride and long run, I still ate the usual Gu/shot bloks/etc that I would eat, but otherwise, I left it all out.  I was eating a lot of chicken, soup, tofu, and fruit.  I did really well for the first week, but fell off the wagon a bit when I went out to Indiana for graduation.  When I came back, I went back on that "diet" for 3 days and then started carb-loading for the race.  

While I was eating like this, I didn't feel hungry very often but I had a low-lying headache for much of the day.  It wasn't debilitating, but as soon as I started eating carbs again it went away.  I don't track calories, so I wonder if I simply just wasn't getting enough fuel - the headache would show up mid-afternoon and last until dinner time.  I did drop a few pounds, which on top of the few I dropped during my two high-volume training weeks left me lighter for race day (although I think I did put 2-3 back on in the carb-loading days just before the race).  

I didn't even notice cutting out alcohol.  I don't really drink that often - I'd say maybe once a week during a regular training week (although when I do, I certainly do it right) and as training intensifies, I go to bed too early - so it wasn't very difficult to cut it out.  I did have a drink each night while out at graduation, but otherwise nothing.  I generally drink wine in the winter and beer in the summer, though, and when I came over the finish line I told the poet that I would have paid $600 for an ice cold beer.  

Because I didn't do all that well doing this (a good week, bad 3 days, good 3 days), I'm not sure that my evaluation of it is really valid.  I did feel lighter and leaner for race day, but I'm also not sure it was worth it based on how incredibly grouchy I was while eating like this.  I think I could accomplish the same thing simply by cutting down on these things when taper started - so a week out, instead of two - and going lean for 3 days but being much more diligent about it.  So we'll see.

Race Day Nutrition
I executed my nutrition plan during the race very well.  I took a Gu (100 calories) before the swim, ate a granola bar in T1 (230 calories), a Gu at 1:00, a granola bar at 1:30, a Gu at 2:15, lots of little hard pretzels around 2:45 (misspoke about this yesterday), and a package of Shot Bloks (200 calories) at 3:15.  I had two large water bottles on my bike filled with Nuun.  I drank one entirely and the other drank about 2/3rds, filled up with water, and drank about a third.  I also drank about half of a water bottle that I grabbed at a handoff.  I realized later that I drank far too much on the bike for the conditions - it was cool, cloudy, and rainy, and I just wasn't sweating enough to need this much fluid.  When I got off the bike I could tell that my stomach had too much fluid in it, even though I had stopped drinking right on schedule.  My nutrition on the run is a little fuzzy - I had a Gu+water at 50 minutes and 1:35, but I also had a few orange slices and some sips of water from various aid stations.  My nutrition plan was based on exactly what I had done in training - the mistake was not adjusting based on the conditions of the day.  I think that too much fluid was my only big mistake.  I don't think I needed that many calories on the bike, but it wouldn't have bothered me if my stomach hadn't been so full.  

I'm essentially going to spend this week and next doing whatever my body feels like doing.  Yesterday my upper body felt fine and I really have missed lifting, so I did a light session in the weight room and nothing else.  Today I might swim.  My hips and my ankles (of all things) are still sore, so I probably won't get back on the bike or run until that has gone away.  Next week I'll be on vacation, and I'll bring my running shoes, but I have zero plan and if I don't do anything all week, that's fine with me.  The really important item that I forgot to mention yesterday was that in 6+ hours of activity on Saturday, I did not feel a single twinge in my piriformis or SI joint or hip flexor.  I was running much slower than usual, which probably contributed, but not a single shot of pain during or after.  I'm really pumped about this!

What's Next?
June is going to bring a pretty serious amount of mileage on the bike (century & double century), and I'm planning to start going back to track workouts, assuming that my butt keeps behaving.  There are a ton of local races here every weekend in June, but I think I'm going to do a lot of week-of signups.  I really like not being on a plan for right now.  The end of June I'll start focusing my training a bit for the San Francisco Half Marathon, which right now I am planning on running for fun and not trying to PR (yeah, we'll see how that goes).  I really strongly despise running in hot weather, so I think the next few months will be about doing things that are enjoyable and not trying to race like crazy.  I don't mind cycling in the heat nearly as much, so there will be a lot of that.

What are your plans in June?  Are you as cranky about the heat as I am?


  1. Your recovery plan is really smart. As for June, I have so many plans that I'd *like* to make. Hopefully Dr. P says I can...

  2. I'd take no crankiness over losing a few pounds any day, but that was an interesting experiment! I am so impressed with how quickly you are recovering from the 70.3, I think it took me over a week to recover from just the national half.

  3. My plan for June (other than our 10k) is to make a big decision on a big fall race. And if my butt doesn't stop going quiet/acting up, it will be half city for me the rest of the year.

  4. Cool experiment!! You mentioned cutting out white carbs, but I didn't see much about whole grains. Were you consuming many whole grains when you were getting the headaches? Nice job eating well and losing a few pounds!

    Century? Double century? You're pretty hardcore!!!! :)

  5. My post IM recovery included a lot of cake this time. I feel ya! Enjoy the rest!

  6. For what it's worth, it's supposed to take you longer than 10 days to get over your "sugar addiction," but I found that I wasn't getting enough food without any carbs.

  7. Way to execute the nutrition strategy. I think I need to take lessons from you.

    Also love the "no plan" plan. I'll be up for ramping up the bike mileage when June rolls around :)

  8. So at SF, G, Kim @ Just Trying is for little girls, Katye @ Long Legs on the Loose and I are all shooting to get G a sub 2. You should run with us. Just saying.

  9. I could NEVER give up carbs and alcohol. NEVER.

    I'm down with your no plan- I think it will be a great break for you and then really fuel whatever exciting stuff you decide is up next!

  10. I bet you're right on the money with your headache being a result of too few calories. Since you don't eat red meat, cutting out carbs probably left you without enough substitutes to replace them.
    Kudos to you for giving it a go - that's a tough change.

    When are you coming out to run trails with me?

  11. I wonder why your ankles hurt? I have heard from people that lowering carbs can cause headaches, so maybe a combo of that and not enough calories.
    Keep me posted of the local races you sign up for. I'm always down for a last minute 5 or 10k!

  12. Glad you had no twinges! Sounds like you did a great job with nutrition.

    I only drink 2-3 beers most weeks, but I'd have a hard time giving those up. I love my Friday evening dinner out at a brewpub too much.

  13. Your recovery plan sounds solid. Racing in the heat is no fun!

  14. This is especially interesting because I'm going to go balls out nutriron wise as I train for my 50K. I want to be lean and mean for this. Sounds like, from your experience the grouchiness will help with the "mean!" I do plan to build in a "cheat" day on Saturdays because I need to get used to eating high calorie crap during mynlong runs in the heat. I've been told everything from powdered donuts, to pizza to grilled cheese! And they all drink Coke at some point during a run. Ultra runners. Crazy.
    So glad your butt behaved!!! So glad you are taking the time you need to recover. It's called recovery for a reason - you put your body through A LOT! Glad there is a vacay on your horizon!

  15. I agree with everyone else. It sounds like you were not getting enough calories. It being cranky over a few pounds is not worth it.

    The heat sucks! Let me know what races you are doing in June. I would be up for a local race for sure.

  16. What an interesting string of messages! I find that I cut back on alcohol leading up to a race, along with refined sugar (when I'm not running long), but I'm not sure how much of the benefit is mental and how much is actually physical. Glad you're recovering well, either way!

  17. I despise running in the heat... which is funny since my first (and only so far) half was in mid September so all of my training was in the heat of last summer. My first marathon is going to be MCM at the end of October so the bulk of my training will be in summer. I do at least avoid races during most of the summer though.


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