Enduro carb addiction (or something needs to change)

Brief description of my early steps into the endurance world, my progression in training and development of problems that made me search for appropriate changes in nutrition.

First entry in my training log has a date with year 2000, when I ran to improve my tennis fitness. Over the next couple of years, as my involvement in tennis diminished, I gradually increased my running volume, with the aim of completing marathon. When the goal of completing was accomplished, I found running more and more appealing, as a way of releasing the stress and also as a way of self-accomplishment.

In the year 2009 I ran a PB of 2:38 in Berlin and then later got injured in preparation for the next PB. It was then that I saw a motivational clip on YouTube for Ironman and started fiddling with the idea of trying a new sport. And in the search of new goals, as I realized that the hunt for marathon times would soon end, the idea of three different sports seemed appealing. So a new goal was set: completion of Ironman.

I started swimming in local club in the end of 2009, completed first half-ironman the next year and got hooked. As the training log data expanded, so did the aspirations. I started the 2011 Ironman Frankfurt with IM Hawaii in mind but failed to qualify for 5 seconds (yes, seconds, 13th in my AG, there were 12 slots and all were taken!). So I did IM Florida that fall instead, got 2nd in AG and earned a ticket to 2012 Hawaii.

Training became more and more focused and the search for that little elusive competitive advantage even more intense. It was around that time that I started to pay really close attention to nutrition as well, eating according to conventional wisdom. I started eating vegetarian in the end of 2010 and my diet became, as advised for endurance athlete, heavily based on carbohydrates. And lots of them, with adequate protein and very little fat, that came mostly from nuts or olive oil. In 2012 I completed IM Austria in summer and IM Hawaii in fall, trained my guts out but never really felt satisfied with my nutrition.

Progression of my average weekly training volume and my average yearly body weight

Progression of my average weekly training volume and my average yearly body weight

As my training load was approx. 3 hours per day since 2011, I was naturally eating a lot. All according to the guidelines and in spite of high training volume had troubles with maintaining my weight. A minor injury, couple of lost training sessions and an additional kg would appear on the scale. And I was always hungry. And by hungry I mean really hungry. Although being quite self-disciplined, I couldn’t resist cookies on different occasions, or raisins, or fruit, or anything that I could get my eyes on. And what terrified me the most was the thought of what would become of me, when I would eventually stop training so much. If then, training my guts out at 3 hours a day and gaining 6 kg in 3 years, what would the scale say if I dropped my training to an enjoyable 1h a day?

The “riddle” of exercise, nutrition and increasing body weight

The “riddle” of exercise, nutrition and increasing body weight

This diet-exercise balance was becoming a paradox for me and I knew that I needed to do something before the next season. And it was then that I came across the article by The prof. Tim Noakes. With regards of his authority in endurance training (think only on The Lore of Running!) this represented a tipping point. Thinking I got nothing to lose, I embarked on a new journey.

One thought on “Enduro carb addiction (or something needs to change)

  1. Melissa Irvine

    That was an incredible post. I run marathons and this September will be running my first 100-miler. A few years ago I tried to ketoadapt but I think the fruit I ate and possibly I ate too high of protein and this prevented me from fully adapting. I ate low carb for quite a few years. I found all of my training was very slow and I just didn’t have to oomph that I had on carbohydrate fueling so I resorted back to high carb.

    Recently I have been doing a lot of reading of fueling for ultra running and I’m seeing quite a pattern of ultra runners doing quite well on low carb high fat. I have just over 5 months before my race and I am taking the plunge and going back to the very low carb, moderate protein (just enough for my metabolic needs), high fat diet. You may be familiar with VESPA and Generation U-CAN products. I ordered some of those to help me ketoadapt and aid in my long training runs.

    I am excited to find your blog and am in the process of reading it in its entirety. 🙂 I am very excited to embark on this journey eating low carb high fat. I always felt better eating this way and have found despite running 80 miles per week I was gaining weight with high carb nutrition. I want to get as lean as possible for a faster racing weight and I am convinced this way of eating will get me there.

    Thanks again 🙂
    Melissa

    p.s. I do have a site but it is still under construction. I want to blog about my journey training for and running a 100-miler. The first of many!!

    Reply

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