Yesterday morning I got my eight mile long run in before Easter festivities. I ran a bit faster than I usually do for my easy long runs, but I made sure I felt like it was a “working easy” pace. My course was the familiar hills in my neighborhood. After the run, I felt very good. Usually by seven to eight miles in my hamstrings start to burn a bit – not at all. My legs didn’t feel fatigued either. As the day went on I still felt good. Oh – and my pace was the fastest it has been for a long run all year.
Today I felt just as good, my legs did not feel the usual fatigue I have the day after a long run and going down the stairs this morning felt like any other day. I had to wonder what has changed that I feel so fresh. I know I am improving in my speed from my training and also believing I can go faster. This doesn’t change how my body burns energy. The biggest change I have made over the past two weeks has been in my diet. Since I fully recovered from that awful stomach virus, I have implemented a diet inspired by the Paleo diet but I also incorporate dairy, beans, and whole grains. What I have eliminated is processed foods, sugars, and most starchy carbs. The only breads I have eaten are Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted whole grain bread and also the tortillas. That said, it is a small part of what I eat. At most three meals within a week. Bonus for me is that it is frozen. Saturday I tried a new dinner out, usually I would eat pasta the night before a long run – that is a runner’s staple food right? Instead of spaghetti I had a spaghetti squash. The entire squash! At most it has 130 calories. It was very flavorful and I tossed it with salmon, garlic, onions, mushrooms, and olive oil.
The balance of my diet is close to 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat. Yes, at least 30% fat. The fats are primarily mono-unsaturated fats (MUFAS). These come from nuts, nut butters, olives, olive oil, and avocados. I don’t hold back on dairy either – I am eating full fat plain greek yogurt and 4% fat cottage cheese. Yep, skim milk is more fattening that whole milk. In fact recent studies showed it is the third most fattening food after french fries and potato chips. Take the fat out of milk and all than is left is sugar. Whole milk is more satiating. As for fuel, fat is the best source of fuel to burn when exercising, especially endurance sports. I have shared this before in posts about metabolic training.
With today being April 1st, I can honestly say this is not a prank, I am not fooling! I have also learned once more that flexibility is important beyond physical ability. High carbs, low fat diets have been common practice for runners and endurance athletes. That doesn’t mean it is the most efficient. I do know I don’t want to be fooled to believe the way it has always been is the way it is going to be. With a little flexibility and willingness to change, new heights just may be reached – sometimes it just takes a different fuel.