Sunday, March 16, 2014

Week 8 & Week 7: Adapting

So, let's start the catch-up with a Week 8 recap, shall we?  A lot has happened since I ran that 15-miler two weeks ago, and it's all been adding up to a decision that I made today.

That 15-miler was an experiment, as it was the first day of a new eating plan that we are using, and I fueled that day on a cup of coffee and 2 tablespoons of grass-fed butter. That was it. That was all. Nothing more. It's called Bulletproof coffee, and it plays into a nutrition plan called No Sugar, No Grains. Essentially, the crux of this plan is to fight the insulin reactions in our bodies caused by high amount of sugar in the standard American diet by removing sugar and grains from our intake. By reducing the sugar as fuel, I'm forcing my body to become fat-adapted and better utilize fat as energy, both for general daily living and during endurance activity.

So for the past two weeks, we've been eating lots of real food, fresh food, and hardly anything pre-packaged or processed. I have struggled for years with my weight, as any of you who have followed me here will remember, and this plan has been very successful for several of my friends who have seen positive results, both in weight loss and in performance during endurance events. I knew that I couldn't continue to do the same things and expect different results, so I determined it was worth a shot to give this a try. With the support of my husband, we decided to try this as strictly as possible until Oklahoma City, and then evaluate and see what results we saw.

I thought I would be having a harder time adjusting to no sugar than my husband would, since I was/am truly addicted to sweets.  I love my cookies, candy, chocolate, ice cream like nothing else. I have always had an irresistible sweet tooth. The hubby, on the other hand, prefers salty and savory snacks to anything sweet. He loves his chips, peanuts, jerky, things like that. But he also has a deadly Coke Zero addiction, plus as a Texan, an affinity for sweet iced tea.  He moved away from using sugar because of the sheer amount of tea he goes through in a week, so instead has been using artificial sweeteners for years. What we have found is that I am barely missing my cookies and candy, but he is having a helluva time without his Coke Zero and sweet tea. He had serious withdrawals for the first week and only in the past week has started to feel better instead of worse.

I had a few hiccups getting used to the fueling for my runs. The bulletproof coffee worked great on my 15-miler.  In fact, I ran for more than 3 hours without any other fuel, got home, drank some water, took a bath, piddled around the house and then at around 2 pm decided I should probably eat something. The coffee stuck with me that long. It was kind of shocking, especially for my first long run. I am used to running without fueling beforehand for shorter runs, so that took no adjustment. Even my longer midweek runs of 8 & 9 miles went off without a hitch with the new fueling.

Then came last week's planned 18-miler. I headed out on the first leg of 8 miles, heading south from the house, with the plan to stop at the house for more water and change directions for a 5-mile out-and-back to finish the planned mileage. This would be the longest run for me since my last 50k in November 2011.  I had my bulletproof coffee while I planned out my route, then got dressed and headed out. My legs felt pretty good, despite 16 weekday miles. But two miles in, my mind just shut down. I couldn't wrap my head around spending the next 4 hours running through three towns. The Freshman was home for spring break, and while both boys were still snoozing when I left, I just felt like I wanted to be anywhere but on the road. I sucked it up and ended up with 6 miles for the day, most of it a slow walk. Again, the legs felt fine, but the mind was not in the game.

This is my "Not gonna happen" face. 
I had taken Monday off, to spend time with the kids, so I rationalized that I would try again that day. The time change completely derailed me, and I didn't get out the door until well past 9 AM.  I had the coffee and butter again (three cups of coffee in 8 days - more coffee than I've had in the past 20 years!) and headed out, determined that I had to get these miles in.  All was well until about mile 6, at which point my stomach decided that I would not be doing any more running that day. I managed to make it home at mile 8 and once I got settled a little bit, decided I would go ahead and try to run the other 10. I refilled my water bottle, grabbed some nuts and headed out the door, in the other direction. This time, I made it two miles out, to a nice little area at the trailhead. There are a couple of benches and a brand-new bridge. It was a beautiful morning. I checked in with my girls on our group chat, and with their encouragement, headed out further onto the trail. Without them, I would have just headed home after that little stop. But, even with them, I only could bring myself to run another half mile before I turned home.  I ended up with 13 miles for the day.  My rationale was that when I took Sunday and Monday mileage together, I had my 18 plus a bonus. 

This is my "Can I be done now?" face. 
I have lovely views on my paved path.  Thank you, City of Arlington!

But I know that's not how it works. I know this. 6 + 13 does not equal 18.  When I got home, I reviewed my training plan and found that I had a cutback of 13 miles scheduled for this week. I figured that I could switch out the weeks, taking the cutback a little earlier and give myself a little more recovery, and give myself one more chance to hit the 18 miles before ramping up to the first of 2 planned 20-milers. So that was the plan I went with all week.

As the week went by, I couldn't get the planned 18 miles out of my mind. My whole mantra this training cycle has been to get that day's miles done on that day. Don't worry about tomorrow's miles until tomorrow. Just plan the work and work the plan. But I couldn't follow my own advice. I fretted about it all week. I bailed on my midweek mid-distance run because not only was I tired from doubling up Sunday and Monday, but because I got in my own head. That whole "get out of my own way" thing? Yeah, I couldn't do that.

So this brings us to today.  I woke up late, partly because of the stupid time change still and mostly because of the megadose of Benadryl I had to take last night.  Texas weather is a bitch this time of the year, and this week it brought in crazy allergens that made me sneeze all day and filled my sinuses so much it hurt to touch my face. In any case, I woke up way later than planned to, but I got dressed, had my bulletproof coffee, and headed out. 

Right before mile 6 today. Still all smiles. 
I felt good. Check that. I felt GREAT.  Skipping a couple of the weekday runs meant my legs felt fresh and strong. I was moseying along just fine, hit the turnaround at mile 5 and stopped for a couple of photos. Just had to get home, refill the water bottle and head out in the other direction. All systems go. And then I hit mile 8.  I realized that when I got home, I still had another 8 miles to go before I would be done. And on race day, I would have another 8 miles to go after that. And it suddenly dawned on me that I was tired. Not physically so much, but mentally tired. I didn't have the energy for another 8 miles. I thought about why I wanted to this full right now.  I thought about why I needed to do this full right now. And the only thing I could think of was that I had committed to it. And suddenly, that wasn't enough.

At my current paces, I am looking at no faster than a 5:45 marathon on race day, and if I'm honest with myself, probably slower than that.  I am still working through this nutrition plan. Training for a marathon is hard.  This I know. Training for a marathon, and running a marathon, is hard enough when your heart is in it 100 percent. But when there is a doubt in your mind about the reasons for it, it ends up being a chore, not a labor of love.

Right now, I have a lot of irons in the fire that demand my attention, and I just don't have the energy required to dedicate to a full training cycle. The minute I decided that I didn't have anything to prove to anyone and allowed myself to think that I could drop to the half at OKC, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders.  I cried about it a little, especially after talking to my Sister I Choose about it. But she and MK knew all the right things to say to me about this decision, and they were so fully supportive and encouraging, that I quickly knew that this is right call for me.

I still plan to stay on this eating plan through OKC before evaluating it and determining how feasible it is as a long-term solution for us. I still plan to run the half at OKC and hope to hit a course PR for the half there. It is one of my favorite courses, half or full, and it is always one of the highlights of my racing year.  I have been working on hills in the neighborhood around work, and I plan to continue that, because hills make you STRONGAH.

I want to get back on Reveille, but with the full looming, I was looking at delaying that until after OKC, whereas now I can get my new pedals put on and do a little more riding this spring. I won't be dreading my long runs, but instead will look forward to them.  The only reason I do this is because I love it. When it became a chore, it was time to re-evaluate. When I'm truly ready for a full again, if I ever am, I will know it. And there will always be races when that time comes. And if I'm not ever up to a full again, well that's okay, too.  It doesn't make me any less of a runner. It doesn't make me less of a person.

So, there you go. I'm not just adapting my body to be more efficient, I'm adapting my mind as well. In the long run, this is all good.

Week 8:  22 miles, including the 6-mile "long" run and a 9-mile midweek run with two monster hills that kicked my azz but felt really good.

Week 7: 29 miles, including today's 10-miler and a Monday 13.

1 comment:

Fawn Simpson said...

I love the way you think and train. I want to know how your continued no sugar, whole foods way of eating s going for you and your husband.