Nutrition

The magic pill to a PB does exist.

 

Thursday is Yelo muffin time.

This morning as we say outside Yolo ( http://www.yelocornerstore.com.au ) eating muffins and drinking coffee the conversation turned to weight. Bart’s had lost 5 kilos over than last few weeks and this was evident in his running. No longer was he getting dropped early in the 14k progressive pain train that is Thursday mornings. He was lasting till the halfway point and although he would then be dropped quicker than a Kevin Spacey video he was finishing stronger each week. We had to take his word for it of course as, being a sports teacher , he’s not one for these new fangled devices like GPS watches, Bart’s is old school and his cheap Casio digital watch is good for telling the time only, how quaint?

So around the table we went divulging our current weight. Bart’s was a shade over 67 kilos’ which was getting there for a long distance runner, myself , I was around the 72 kilo mark which is at least 2 kilos over my racing weight but with the next few months not offering up any fast marathons I generally ‘let myself go’ a bit. Mike K.’s weight fluctuates more than the stock market with a recession in town, it all depends on how many times he has eaten out that week as well as the little treats he gives himself when he returns from eating out. Next was the King of Carine, young Nic  Harman,  who had just probably set the fastest time for the 14k progressive by a country mile. Nic weighted in at 54 kilos, which is the weight that most Kenyan marathon runners aim for.  Funnily enough Nic just drank water while the rest of us gorged on the best muffin and coffee combination in WA, go figure ? Could Nic had run the time he just had if he weighed in at a ‘normal’ weight, no way.

So can we get to Nic’s weight and turbo-charge our running, unfortunately not. If I weighed 54kilos I would be single (my Wife struggles with my current weight as she grumbles the man she married was nearer 90 kilos than 70 and spent time in gyms rather than pounding the pavement. They’re a funny bunch Wifes? ) and probably struggle to get out of bed no matter run anywhere. This is the card I have been handed by my parents and genetics. Is this the reason why I’ll never challenge the Africans, it certainly plays a part I believe. The other part of course is God given talent and the ability to draw on it. This morning as Nic disappeared into the distance I pondered why I probably put in more time running than Nic but was nowhere near his pace and had no chance of ever finishing a race anywhere near him. Of course this goes for 99% of the running population and I get a lot closer than most but sometimes you need to face facts, there is nothing I could do, nothing, to get anywhere near Nic and his times. Of course this then also translates to the same equation for Nic and the Kenyan runners that currently dominate the running scene of today. What do they have that we don’t ? They have the genetics and the hunger to draw on their talent, mentally they are strong because they face poverty daily and running is their escape. They are also very, very light.

So the magic pill to improve your running may be a pill that you don’t need to take, abstinence may be the answer to all you’re running questions. The cost of course is a big one and the sacrifice substantial but if you really want to improve it can be as easy and walking past the fridge in the evening and choosing a healthy option. Unfortunately, as I have mentioned many times on this topic,  we give up so much as runners , food can be the hardest one to swallow, or not as the case may be. I love my food and side with Matt Fitzgerald and his marathon diet as it advocates carbs and the ‘normal’ runners diet of food I adore. The high fat, low carb diet is something I can never follow because it advocates the complete removal of sugar from the diet. I know sugar is bad but I justify it as fuel that is needed for my running. Imagine no sugar in my diet, the world would be a bland place.

I suppose how we reach our ‘racing weight’ is a personal choice, if you follow the Fitzgerald plan it may mean a smaller portion size or if you go down the HFLC diet it would be the removal off sugar from your diet. The thing is when you get to your racing weight the rewards are huge, as described in the post below. Runners put so much emphasis on the weight of their training shoes stressing about a few hundred grams while adding kilos to their body weight with bad diet and/or poor training. It doesn’t add up.

 

A post from Amanda McMillan written for www.runnersworld.com explains how your racing weight can make you fitter, faster and more resilient to wear and tear.

Perhaps you have always had the same body and never considered what adding a few pounds of muscle or dropping a few pounds of flab might do for your performance. Alicia Shay, a professional runner and nutrition counselor in Flagstaff, Arizona, says weight shouldn’t be overlooked. “Anyone who cares how fast they’re running should consider their weight part of their overall training strategy,” she says.

It’s most common for runners to find their weight has crept up over the years. Pete Magill, author of Build Your Running Body, didn’t think much about his own gradual weight gain until, at 44, his usual 15-minute 5K times began to suffer.

“When I ran 16:20, I knew I was in trouble,” Magill says. “I’d been racing at 170 pounds since starting masters competition, almost 10 pounds over my race weight back in my 20s.” He couldn’t train any harder, so he went on a diet and dropped to 164. Over the next few years, he set the American men’s 45–49 record for the 5K, at 14:34.

Magill’s not alone. “I can’t imagine you can talk to a competitive runner who doesn’t have a weight-loss-equals-faster-time story,” he says.

But getting to that ideal number can be hard work—especially if you’re already logging major mileage and are used to eating whatever you want. And it’s a delicate balance: Dipping below it or losing weight in unhealthy ways could put you at risk for injury, illness and disordered eating behaviors.

Why Lighter Equals Faster

As a general rule, runners move most efficiently when they’re at the low end of what’s considered a healthy body mass and body-fat percentage. “Running is really just a form of jumping,” says Matt Fitzgerald, certified sports nutritionist and author of Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance. “You can’t move forward without moving up, and the more you have to lift against gravity, the more energy it requires.” Imagine running with an extra 5 pounds strapped around your waist, he explains.

Body weight affects performance in running more than it does in other sports, such as swimming and biking, according to a 2011 Swiss study on Ironman triathletes. And lower body-mass index seems increasingly important as race distances get longer: A 2014 study found that the optimal BMI for male 800m runners was between 20 and 21, while it dropped between 19 and 20 for male 10,000m and marathon runners. (Generalizations about BMI shouldn’t be used prescriptively, Shay says, because it doesn’t take into account lean muscle or body fat.)

There are other reasons lighter means faster: Larger people are less efficient at delivering oxygen throughout the body. Losing weight doesn’t change your lung capacity or function, but it does mean that each breath doesn’t have to go as far.

Leaner athletes can dissipate heat better, too, because they have a higher surface-area-to-body-weight ratio and less insulating fat tissue. They also burn carbohydrates more efficiently. So while weight isn’t everything, it’s certainly a big thing. “Four factors determine how fast you are,” says Sean Wade, a top masters athlete and coach of the Houston-based Kenyan Way running program. “Genetics, form, how hard and smart you train, and your weight—and not necessarily in that order.”

Age Makes a Difference

Masters runners may have the hardest time losing weight—no matter how much they run. Fred Zalokar, 54, averages more than 100 miles a week and for years oscillated between 170 and 180 pounds. But since he cleaned up his diet four years ago, he’s dropped more than 20 pounds, increasing his speed and turnover along the way.

“Weight loss has never just happened for me, even when I was regularly running ultras,” Zalokar says. “If I’m not consciously cutting my calories, I can make up for all that mileage without a second thought.”

That’s because adults begin losing muscle mass in their early 40s, which can impair performance and decrease metabolism, says Emily Brown, RD. Getting enough physical activity (including resistance training to maintain muscle) is especially important, as is cutting back on junk food and oversize food portions.

Tom Storey, 50, who has run Boston seven times, attributes his first qualifying run, in 2007, to weight loss. In just more than a year, he went from 205 to 150 pounds and shaved more than 30 minutes off his previously 4-hour marathon time. Today, maintaining his weight requires sacrifices he’s willing to make. “There aren’t a lot of things I can do to make myself a better athlete,” he says, “but if I can keep my weight down, I know I’ll be faster.”

Crunching the Numbers

Finding your ideal weight—the healthy weight at which you really perform your best—takes some time. “You can’t predict your optimal race weight beforehand,” Fitzgerald says. “You can move toward a goal, and when you have the race of your life, you weigh yourself and get your body composition tested, and there you have it.”

Andrew Lemoncello, 2012 Olympian for the U.K. and a coach for McMillan Running, didn’t find his ideal race weight until going pro after college. “I used to live by the saying, ‘If the furnace is hot enough, it will burn anything,’ “ he says. “I ate healthy foods, but I also loved desserts and never paid attention to my portions.”

When he began spending time with other pro runners, Lemoncello realized he needed higher-quality fuel for his furnace to run at its most efficient. He began planning his meals and stopped mindless eating, and he dropped from 150 pounds to 145. “I started setting PRs and had more energy and confidence,” he says. “If I’m eating well and training hard, that’s the weight my body naturally gravitates to.”

For any weight loss or gain, it helps to have something to aim for. Several online calculators, like Fitzgerald’s at RacingWeight.com, will estimate your ideal racing weight based on your age, gender and current fitness level. In this case, ideal is defined as what you would weigh if your body fat was at its lowest attainable-yet-healthy percentage, Fitzgerald explains.

Then there are the stats about how much quicker you’ll be by slimming down, like the commonly cited 2 seconds per mile, per pound you are above your ideal weight. But this will vary from person to person, says exercise physiologist Paul Vanderburgh, creator of the online Flyer Handicap Calculator, which helps runners see how their race times stack up against competitors of other ages and weights. Based on VO2 max estimates, it computes your predicted time if you were 25 years old and a scale model of yourself at 110 pounds for women or 143 pounds for men. “It’s strictly meant for comparisons,” he stresses, “not for figuring out the weight you should realistically be to hit a certain time.”

In Build Your Running Body, Magill and his co-authors plot a chart of estimates based on VO2 calculations—for example, that a 200-pound runner can shave 19 seconds off a 20-minute 5K time by losing 5 pounds. Wade takes a simpler approach: “One minute slower per 1 pound overweight is what I tell my marathoners,” he says.

These tools can be good motivators, according to Rasa Troup, a certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD), a 2008 Olympian and current nutritionist for Team USA Minnesota, but she adds that athletes shouldn’t take them as gospel. “My biggest concern is that they distract runners from listening to and understanding their own bodies, because they’re caught up in reaching some number,” she says. “It’s more important to be aware of how tired hungry or sluggish you are feeling.”

Kimberly Mueller, CSSD, owner of San Diego-based Fuel Factor Nutrition Coaching and a 2:52 marathoner, warns that calculators can skew too low with body-fat goals, as well. “Some have estimated my ideal body composition to fall around 12 percent,” she says, “but I know I lose my menstrual cycle if I fall below 14.”

How Much is Too Much?

Many runners could benefit from shedding a few pounds, Troup admits—but only if they have excess weight to lose and only if it’s done in a way that supplements their training, rather than sabotaging it. “Well-fueled athletes will perform well, and well-fueled means something different for every person,” she says. Of course, losing weight isn’t a good idea for all competitive runners. For those who are naturally very lean or who work hard to stay at the low end of their healthy weight, the threat of falling below that point at which you race your best is real.

Stephanie Bruce learned that the hard way when she finished a disappointing 16th at the 2013 Boston Marathon. She and her husband, pro runner Ben Bruce, have spent years perfecting their race-weight strategies, she says, and weigh themselves daily leading up to a big race.

“We didn’t have a scale in Boston, and it was difficult to get in as many calories the day before as I would have been able to at home,” she says. (Bruce has celiac disease and has to be careful about eating food prepared outside of her own kitchen.) “I was probably under by only 2 or 3 pounds on race morning, but it made a huge impact. I had no power; I just couldn’t hold the pace.”

Bruce says she works hard to maintain a healthy weight and has never dropped so low that her health has suffered. But many runners, without enough calories or nutrients, can develop weak bones and compromised immune systems.

That’s what Brian Rosetti figures happened to him. After he graduated from college, he spent two years training almost full-time. His mileage was increasing, but he was focused on low weight instead of nutrition for performance. Just as he made a breakthrough in his training, and as his weight dropped to an all-time low of 146 on his 6-foot-1 frame, he suffered a sacral stress fracture. “My bone density was below the median level, and I don’t think I was getting the right nutrients,” Rosetti says. “I was focused on keeping as light as I could. That’s a scary place to be.” The injury, in effect, ended his career.

Fitzgerald says impaired performance is usually the first sign that a runner has dipped into dangerous territory. “It’s the canary in the coal mine—your body’s signal that it’s under too much stress.”

For women, a missing menstrual period is also an indication of an unhealthy and unsustainable weight, with potential complications like infertility and osteoporosis. And while it’s less talked about, competitive men can struggle, too. A recent Southern Utah University study found that almost 20 percent of male high school cross country runners were at risk for disordered eating behaviors like bingeing and purging. Some boys expressed a desire to gain body weight to be more attractive, while others wanted to lose it to improve their running.

To keep your weight loss from becoming detrimental, the American Council on Exercise recommends maintaining a BMI that stays at or above the normal weight threshold of 18.5 and a body fat percentage above 14 percent for women and 6 percent for men. Some elites dip below these guidelines, Troup says, but it’s not recommended without careful monitoring.

Fitzgerald also recommends tracking your performance. “If you’re getting skinnier but your times are getting worse, you’ve passed the point of beneficial weight loss,” he says.

And above all else, Shay says, listen to your body and your mind. “If you’re starving all the time or you’re irritable and cranky or you’re bonking on runs, you’re probably being too ambitious and getting too light.”

Timing is Everything

The time to prioritize weight loss is in a four- to nine-week period before you start ramping up your workouts, while you’re building your base. “You can’t maximize fitness gain and weight loss simultaneously,” Fitzgerald says.

Mueller agrees. During a competitive season, athletes shouldn’t restrict themselves by more than 500 calories per day. For those who want to lose only a few pounds, 200 to 300 is even better. Stop restricting calories the week of a big race, she adds, because your body will perform best on a full tank.

Bruce says she goes into her training cycles about 3 to 5 pounds over her racing weight, a product of relaxed eating habits and less exercise during her offseason. “I like to have a reserve to pull from, because once I start working out harder, I lose it pretty easily,” she says.

Lemoncello follows a similar schedule during his training period, gaining 5 to 10 pounds when he’s not racing. “It’s good for my running,” he says. “The break helps me feel energized, and I come back motivated.”

Eliud Kipchoge and his training team on a sunrise run, probably no Yelo muffin and coffee combo to finish.

Sometimes muffins can actually make you faster.

A thing of beauty, and it seems for three days pre-marathon a performance enhancer.

 

Marathon training involves months of sacrifice to be able to be in the best condition possible on the day to achieve your personal goal. There are so many things that can derail you it’s a wonder anyone even gets to the start line at all. Of the ones that do a high percentage have ‘issues‘ or have had ‘issues‘ over the course of their training,  so very few are standing at the start line in the best condition they could possibly be in, full of beans about to explode into the run of their life.  This in itself keeps runners returning to the marathon because most of the time they know they could have done something different in their training or have been better prepared if ‘x‘ didn’t happen (for ‘x‘ insert one of hundreds of ailments or injuries) Very few get to run the perfect race.

Sometimes though marathon training gives back and three days before the big day is such an occasion. It does this by advocating carbo-loading, which translates into ‘muffin time baby!‘ . The common held believe is that carbo-loading is good for a 2-3% performance increase ; which over a marathon is a few minutes. I’ve said this before but what other sport allows you to eat muffins for three days before a big race and actually improve your performance, it is a wonderful thing. It’s just a pity it only lasts for three days and you need to probably work  your balls off for 3 months before, minimum. (Imagine if it was the other way around, I’m not sure my bank account could cope with the Yelo muffin bill !)

Of course I’m not talking about going ‘muffin crazy’ for three days, you can have one per day as well as lots of pasta, OJ, honey on toast, yoghurt and for my American cousins bagels. You need to aim for 10g of carbo-hydrates for every kilo of body weight. For me , at around 70kg, I look to consume about 700g of carbs a day for the last three days before the marathon. Trust me people this is a lot of carbs. (and a lot of muffins if I choose the ‘muffin only’ approach, which is probably suicidal!, probably….) You will feel bloated and, if not, you’re probably not eating enough carbs unfortunately.  I would suggest a very large proportion of runners who try to carbo-load never actually do it right and just end up putting on weight, feeling like crap and achieving no real benefit. It, like all things in life, takes practice and experience.

Personally I eat a muffin (Yelo of course) for breakfast or weetbix and a banana ,  2-3 bananas per day,  2 rounds of honey on toast throughout the day, a few OJ’s, two smallish serves of pasta (lunch and dinner) and some yoghurt in the evening, while sipping on either electrolytes or water constantly. This leads to plenty of time in the men’s toilet and your urine should really be virtually clear most of the day.  Staying hydarated is another pre-requisite of a successful carbo-loading process.

Do you need to stuff yourself full of carbs for three days pre-race ? There are alternatives and/or other options. The first alternative is from a Western Australians University who studied the carbo-loading process and came up with a different , quicker, option while consuming less food.  Matt Fitzgerald studied this approach and two others in his article below :-

 

The practice of carbo-loading dates back to the late 1960s. The first carbo-loading protocol was developed by a Swedish physiologist named Gunvar Ahlborg after he discovered a positive relationship between the amount of glycogen (carbs stored in the muscles and liver) in the body and endurance performance. Scientists and runners had already known for some time that eating a high-carbohydrate diet in the days preceding a long race enhances performance, but no one knew exactly why until Ahlborg’s team zeroed in on the glycogen connection.

Subsequently, Ahlborg discovered that the muscles and liver are able to store above-normal amounts of glycogen when high levels of carbohydrate consumption are preceded by severe glycogen depletion. The most obvious way to deplete the muscles of glycogen is to eat extremely small amounts of carbohydrate. A second way is to engage in exhaustive exercise.

The stress of severe glycogen depletion triggers an adaptive response by which the body reduces the amount of dietary carbohydrate that it converts to fat and stores, and increases the amount of carbohydrate that it stores in the liver and muscles as glycogen.

Ahlborg referred to this phenomenon as glycogen supercompensation. Armed with this knowledge, he was able to create a more sophisticated carbo-loading protocol than the primitive existing method, which was, more or less, eating a big bowl of spaghetti.

The Ahlborg Method

Ahlborg came up with a seven-day carbo-loading plan in which an exhaustive bout of exercise was followed by three or four days of extremely low carbohydrate intake (10 percent of total calories) and then three or four days of extremely high carbohydrate intake (90 percent of total calories).

The Ahlborg
Carbo-Loading Method

  1. Perform an exhaustive workout one week before a long race (90 minutes-plus).

  2. Consume a very low-carb diet (10%) for the next 3-4 days while training lightly.

  3. Consume a very high-carb diet (90%) the next 3-4 days while continuing to train lightly.

Trained athletes who used this protocol in an experiment were able to nearly double their glycogen stores and exhibited significantly greater endurance in exercise lasting longer than 90 minutes.

After these results were published, endurance athletes across the globe began to use Ahlborg’s carbo-loading plan prior to events anticipated to last 90 minutes or longer. While it worked admirably, it had its share of drawbacks.

First of all, many athletes weren’t keen on performing an exhaustive workout just a week before a big race, as the plan required. Second, maintaining a 10 percent carbohydrate diet for three or four days carried some nasty consequences including lethargy, cravings, irritability, lack of concentration and increased susceptibility to illness. Many runners and other athletes found it just wasn’t worth it.

The No-depletion Method

Fortunately, later research showed that you can increase glycogen storage significantly without first depleting it. A newer carbo-loading protocol based on this research calls for athletes to eat a normal diet of 55 to 60 percent carbohydrate until three days before racing, and then switch to a 70 percent carbohydrate diet for the final three days, plus race morning.

The No-Depletion
Carbo-Loading Method

  1. Perform a long workout (but not an exhaustive workout) one week before race day.
  2. Eat normally (55-60% carbohydrate) until three days before a longer race.
  3. Eat a high-carb diet (70%) the final three days before racing while training very lightly.

As for exercise, this tamer carbo-loading method suggests one last longer workout (but not an exhaustive workout) done a week from race day followed by increasingly shorter workouts throughout race week. It’s simple, it’s non-excruciating, and it works. Admittedly, some scientists and athletes still swear that the Ahlborg protocol is more effective, but if it is, the difference is slight and probably not worth the suffering and inherent risks.

Note that you should increase your carbohydrate intake not by increasing your total caloric intake, but rather by reducing fat and protein intake in an amount that equals or slightly exceeds the amount of carbohydrate you add. Combining less training with more total calories could result in last-minute weight gain that will only slow you down.

Be aware, too, that for every gram of carbohydrate the body stores, it also stores 3 to 5 grams of water, which leads many athletes to feel bloated by the end of a three-day loading period. The water weight will be long gone by the time you finish your race, however.

The Western Australia Method

The newest and perhaps the best of all the carbo-loading strategies was devised in 2002 by scientists at the University of Western Australia. It combines depletion and loading and condenses them into a one-day time frame.

The creators of this innovative protocol recognized that a single, short workout performed at extremely high intensity creates a powerful demand for glycogen storage in both the slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers of the muscles. They hypothesized that following such a workout with heavy carbohydrate intake could result in a high level of glycogen supercompensation without a lot of fuss.

In an experiment, the researchers asked athletes to perform a short-duration, high-intensity workout consisting of two and a half minutes at 130 percent of VO2max (about one-mile race pace) followed by a 30-second sprint. During the next 24 hours, the athletes consumed 12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of lean muscle mass. This resulted in a 90-percent increase in muscle glycogen storage.

 

The Western Australia
Carbo-Loading Method

  1. During the pre-race week, eat normally while training lightly until the day before a longer race.

  2. On the morning of the day before the race, perform a very brief, very high-intensity workout

 

Runners have cause to be very pleased by these findings. Doing just a few minutes of high-intensity exercise the day before a competition will not sabotage tomorrow’s performance, yet it will suffice to stimulate the desirable carbohydrate “sponging” effect that was sought in the original Ahlborg protocol. This allows the athlete to maintain a normal diet right up until the day before competition and then load in the final 24 hours.

The Western Australia carbo-loading strategy works best if preceded by a proper taper–that is, by several days of reduced training whose purpose is to render your body rested, regenerated, and race-ready. In fact, several days of reduced training combined with your normal diet will substantially increase your glycogen storage level even before the final day’s workout and carbohydrate binge.

When you exercise vigorously almost every day, your body never gets a chance to fully replenish its glycogen stores before the next workout reduces them again. Only after 48 hours of very light training or complete rest are your glycogen levels fully compensated. Then the Western Australia carbo-loading regimen can be used to achieve glycogen supercompensation.

Having said all of this, I would like to note finally that carbo-loading in general has been shown to enhance race performance only when athletes consume little or no carbohydrate during the race itself. If you do use a sports drink or sports gels to fuel your race effort–as you should–prior carbo-loading probably will have no effect. But it doesn’t hurt to do it anyway, as insurance.

 

For the purists, who want their daily muffin,  Karla Douglass Thom describes the stereotypical approach :-

 

Endurance athletes have long touted the benefits of carbo-loading – which, for most, simply involved scarfing down lots of pasta and bread the night before a race and calling it good. A smart carb-cramming plan, however, is slightly more strategic.

Research suggests, for example, that starting to ramp up carb intake a few days before an event can provide the best results. It also shows that by carbing up properly, an athlete can maximize endurance, maintain focus and improve strength.

Carbo-loading – the practice of increasing one’s intake of carbohydrates, particularly for a performance-related event or intense training session – is critical for endurance athletes. Carbo-loading tops off muscles’ glycogen stores, which power your muscles for maximum performance. The more glycogen you have socked away, the longer you’ll last. And those who exercise hard enough to deplete their muscles of glycogen (a process that generally takes 60 to 90 minutes of strenuous exercise, so think runners, cyclists and cross-country skiers – not low-key walkers or joggers) will need more than their usual dose of carbs to keep them going.

A Method to the Macaroni

Carbo-loading works best when you’ve already been eating a carbohydrate-rich diet during your training regimen, according to the Mayo Clinic, because during that time your body has learned to use the carbs you eat more effectively. In fact, research from the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., suggests that well-trained athletes who log long training sessions teach their muscles to store up to 25 percent more glycogen.

Ideally, endurance athletes’ diets should already be carb-rich, so carbo-loading mainly consists of bumping up your ratio of carbs to fats and proteins even further. You shouldn’t take in more calories; rather, just eat more oatmeal, fewer eggs, more potatoes, less steak. A week before your event (when, ideally, you’ll begin the carbo-loading process), you should also reduce the intensity and duration of your workouts in order to rest and rebuild your muscles.

During your carbo-loading phase, carbs should constitute about 60 to 70 percent of your daily caloric intake. Specifically, shoot for 3 to 5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight each day. So, a 130-pound woman would need from 390 to 650 grams of carbs in her diet per day, and a 180-pound man would strive for 540 to 900 grams per day. (At the beginning of your loading cycle, start at the lower end of the range; by the end, strive for the higher end.)

Keep in mind, though, that carbo-loading isn’t an excuse to scrap your nutritional needs: It’s important to maintain a healthy diet that includes vitamin- and mineral-packed foods such as fruits, veggies and legumes. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 10 to 15 percent of your non-carb calories should be from lean protein in meat, poultry or fish, and about 15 to 20 percent of your calories should come from healthy fats.

Load Your Own Way

Carbo-loading isn’t just for high-stakes competition, according to sports nutritionist Monique Ryan, MS, RD, author of Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes (VeloPress, 2002). She notes that both athletes and fitness enthusiasts should experiment with carbo-loading throughout their training.

Every body responds to carbs a little differently, so your training cycle is the perfect time to figure out what your body likes and digests the best.

Generally, complex sugars, such as those in whole-grain pasta or an apple, are absorbed by your system more slowly than the simple sugars found in a white-flour bagel or cookie. That means complex carbs deliver more long-lasting energy. Simple sugars, on the other hand, provide a quick burst of short-lived fuel for your muscles’ energy needs, but they don’t usually offer much nutritional value.

To each his own digestive system, however. “All carbs have their own unique glucose and insulin curve in each individual,” notes Ryan. The point is, what works best for your training partner might not be ideal for you.

Keep It Clean

Carbo-loading priorities aside, when it comes to nutrition, the old rule still applies: “In general, athletes want to focus on quality carbs from fruits, vegetables and wholesome grain foods for the bulk of their carbohydrates. These nutrient-dense foods offer not only the fuel needed for top performance, but also the vitamins and minerals that are like spark plugs for the body’s engine,” says Nancy Clark, MS, RD, a Boston-area sports nutritionist and author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook (Human Kinetics Publishers, 2003).

Athletes don’t necessarily have to avoid sugar altogether. Most dietitians assert that it’s acceptable for them (like everyone else) to take in up to 10 percent of their calories from refined sugars. For the athlete who eats 3,000 calories per day, that might equate to a midafternoon Frappucino or ice cream for dessert. But if you’re eating processed energy bars or shakes for training, or nursing a soda habit, you could easily be getting your sugar quota that way, too.

Read labels carefully, and remember, because refined sugars are a pro-inflammatory (and thus antirecovery) food, and because they tend to reduce your immunity, you’re best off minimizing your refined-sugar intake as much as possible. Try the natural supplement stevia for everyday sweetening, and save your sugar for feel-good treats you really enjoy.

Calculating Carbs

It’s a good idea to know which foods provide the biggest carbohydrate bang per serving, but you don’t necessarily have to approach each meal with a fork and a calculator. Marathoner Deena Kastor, who won bronze at the 2004 Olympics, believes that once you understand how your body processes different carbohydrates – that is, which foods provide lasting energy for you – you can approach your meals with an intuitive sense of what you need.

“I focus on adding another heaping spoonful of pasta or a few more potatoes,” she says. “Before the Athens marathon, I also ate a lot of dense fruits with high sugar content: pears, bananas, grapes. They replaced a lot of electrolytes and minerals I knew I was sweating out.”

But while emphasizing fruits might work for Deena, Clark warns that, for some athletes, the fiber content in some fruits might result in unwanted pit stops along the racecourse. Generally, though, the more adjusted your body is to eating whole foods, the less of a problem this is likely to be.

Common Mistakes

As you perfect your personal carbo-loading plan, there are certain things to avoid. For instance, research supports skipping the “depletion phase” of classic carbo-loading. The old-school depletion approach included hard workouts a week or so before competition to drain the muscles of glycogen, followed by a few days of a low-carb diet to further sweep out the shelves. In the final few days before the race, adherents then switched to a high-carb diet to saturate the muscles with glycogen.

While that approach does work, a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine in 1981 found that eliminating the depletion phase works just as well and can prevent athletes from feeling sluggish and irritable the week of their event. “The depletion phase accomplishes no more than what simply resting and eating properly does,” Ryan says.

Other tried-and-true advice you can take to the table:

1. Don’t experiment with new foods during the week before competition. If you’re traveling to an event and are tempted to try the local fare, hold off until after the race.

2. Skip the high-fiber foods the day before the event. Unless you are used to eating them as part of your regular diet and know you tolerate them well, raw vegetables, beans, bran and the like may leave you feeling bloated and gassy when the gun goes off. Also, avoid fatty foods that take a long time to digest. Stick with high-carb, easily digestible foods like pasta and fruit.

3. Don’t obsess about weight gain. Proper carbo-loading will cause you to put on a little weight, because with each gram of glycogen your muscles store about 3 grams of water. “A well-loaded athlete will gain about 2 to 4 pounds of water weight,” Clark says.

Burn, Bagel, Burn

“Carbo-loading will provide higher-than-normal glycogen stores,” Ryan says, “but even ‘fully loaded’ marathoners will lose steam between miles 15 and 20. If you’re exercising for that long, you’ll still have to take in carbohydrates during the event.”

An hour or so into a training session or competition, it’s wise to begin refueling your muscles with glucose. At this point, whether you eat a cookie or ingest a sports gel doesn’t really matter, although packets of gels and other foods designed for eating and drinking on the go are convenient to carry, go down quickly and tend to be easily digestible.

If you’re eager to stretch your glycogen stores and your athletic potential to the max, keep these carbo-loading guidelines in mind: Experiment with your carb intake during your training routine, start carbo-loading well before race day, and push the carbs while controlling your calories and nutrition. Do this on a regular basis and you’ll find that carbo-loading isn’t much different than any other aspect of race preparation: It all comes down to practice, practice, practice.

 

Faster running without running, sounds too good to be true?

Although runners have less opportunities to increase pace without actually putting in the hard yards there are limited options to increase your race pace and bring down your finishing time. Of course we are not offered the easy options experienced and embraced by cyclists. While running long on Sunday we were once again passed by a ‘gaggle’ of cyclists freewheeling down a hill merrily chit-chatting away, cocooned in lycra, and excited about another stop for frothy light frappacino’s and banana bread. As runners we can’t free wheel, when we run downhill we actually have to run downhill, funny that ? We can’t spend thousands of dollars on Zip Wheels, silly helmets or extra-extra light carbon-fibre bikes to shave a  few minutes of our finishing time. Admittedly there is the Nike Vaporflys 4% now available which offer a 4% improvement in running economy but that is about all us runners can hope to achieve without doing the extra hard yards, or is it ? ( I have attached a review of the Vaporflys at the end of this post from http://www.roadtrailrun.com . I have mine and will be testing them tonight, very excited !!)

So how do runners gain that few extra seconds without training more or harder. I’ve added a list of things below which are guaranteed to improve your finishing time and you don’t even have to lace up your runners

Race shoes on race day. Sounds obvious right, you train in comfortable, high heel, extra padded trainers which help with the constant pounding you subject yourself to while you train. On race day though you can add a turbo-charger by bringing out the race shoes, lighter, less forgiving but a race-only treat. These race shoes make you feel like you’ve been running in concrete , or Kayano’s as I like to call that feeling, and as well as a placebo effect, they also make the whole running process easier due to good old fashioned physics, less weight attached to the end of your legs. I’m lucky that I can run marathons in racing flats and have used Asics Piranha’s, Adidias Takumi Sen3, Nike LunaRacers  and Saucony Kinvara’s on a number of occasions. All these are light , around 210g , compared to a ‘training’ shoe like the Asics Kayano which is about 326g. So my first tip to shave those seconds (or even minutes) off your time is to find your favourite shoe manufacturer racing version of your everyday runner

A free turbo-charger .

Taper properly. One of the hardest thing for a runner is to stop running just before a goal race. It is counter-intuitive to stop doing what you love to do and, paranoid as all runners are, you grapple with the ‘I’ll lose my fitness’ argument that always rages as you taper towards the big day.  Well I’m here to tell you that the week before the marathon (we’re doing a marathon right?) there is nothing you can do to add to your fitness levels, all you can do it too much.  Thus you could do nothing all week and this would actually help towards your finish time. Of course no runner can do nothing, especially with a marathon on the horizon. I generally run a 10k Tuesday and Thursday of marathon week and that’s it. Twenty kilometres in a week (bar the 42k on Sunday of course) when I’m use to running 6-8 times that. How do I do it ? Easy, I tell myself that I am improving my finish time for every day I don’t run and also with the experience of running 41 marathons I know this is a tried and tested method that works for me. When I first started running I use to taper for three weeks before the big day and I look back now and I’m amazed I even finished. A good week of tapering may be extended to two at a push (assuming you put in good numbers in training) but three weeks is too many for me. I’m more of a ‘aggressive two week taper’ rather than a gradual three week taper. As with all things running though you need to find the ideal fit for you and that comes with experience but the last week doing little or nothing is a guaranteed finish time improver

Carboload well, some pass me a muffin ! Running is an unforgiving mistress, she (she is a she isn’t she ?) insists you train hard, eat right, get up early, miss family time and spend quality time in the pain box on a regular basis. For three days before a marathon though she relents and turns into your best friend EVER. This is because she allows you to carboload to improve your finishing time. Hallelujah , for three days you get to eat just about as much carbohydrates as you can physically stomach. I use the 10g of carbs per kilogram of body weight , per day for three days before the marathon. For me this equates to 700g of carbs a day. Trying to eat 700g of quality carbs a day is actually very hard and you need to be careful you don’t add too much sugar into the mix or you and the bathroom scales are going to fall out big time. For me I aim for a toast for breakfast,  pasta meal every evening, orange juice and electrolytes, honey on toast (probably twice a day), yoghurt, bananas  and more pasta for lunch. This gets me to around the 700g I need. Very few runners actually make the right mix of carbohydrates to protein and the other major food groups, they either fall short on the carbohydrate count or add too much sugar (assuming a ‘if  looks good I can eat it mentality’) This can lead to weight gain (rather than the ‘good’ weight gain due to more water in the last few days. This also needs to be addressed, you should be ‘peeing’ clear the three days before a marathon as you hydrate before the big day.)

Got to love marathon training for the last 3 days, pass me a muffin !

 

 

Of course there is the one day carboload for runners who feel that three days of gorging on carbs makes them feel bloated, heavy and generally lethargic.  Dr. Paul Fournier from The Conversation published this post on the subject below:-

During the London Olympics, and beyond, many endurance athletes will attempt to increase their muscle glycogen stores by carbohydrate loading. This is because, despite its importance, glycogen is a fuel present only in small amounts in skeletal muscles and can be rapidly depleted during prolonged intense aerobic exercise, thus causing fatigue.

Unfortunately, many athletes aiming to increase their glycogen stores find this aspect of their preparation challenging. It is thus important to remind them that nearly a decade ago my colleagues and I developed some carbohydrate loading regimens to make this task easier.

Six-day regimen

Close to the end of the 1960s, a team of scientists from Northern Europe introduced a carbohydrate loading regimen that resulted in a near two-fold increase in muscle glycogen stores.

treehouse1977

This regimen involved a glycogen-depleting bout of exercise followed by three days of a carbohydrate-poor diet. Another bout of exercise was then performed to deplete once more the stores of muscle glycogen.

For the next three days the athletes were asked to eat a carbohydrate-rich diet and to avoid any strenuous physical activity.

As one would expect, despite its benefits, this regimen was difficult to tolerate and highly impractical, particularly for athletes wishing to train during the carbohydrate-deprivation phase of this regimen.

Three-day regimen

It is in part for this reason that nearly 30 years ago, Sherman and colleagues introduced an improved carbohydrate-loading regimen that resulted in comparable increases in muscle glycogen levels, but without the disadvantages associated with the classical regimen.

These investigators found that the accumulation of high levels of muscle glycogen is possible without any glycogen-depletion phase.

Emily Barney

All that is required is for athletes to taper their training over several days and rest on the day before competition while ingesting a carbohydrate-rich diet for three days prior to competing.

Unfortunately, even this three-day carbohydrate loading regimen was difficult to adhere to given the large amounts of carbohydrate that needed to be ingested over several consecutive days.

For this reason, nearly a decade ago my colleagues and I at UWA undertook to develop an improved carbohydrate-loading regimen that allows the attainment of maximal muscle glycogen levels within a shorter time period.

One-day regimen

As a result, we introduced two novel one-day long carbohydrate loading regimens (published here and here).

Since the rates of muscle glycogen synthesis are generally higher during recovery from a short bout of high intensity exercise than during recovery from prolonged exercise of moderate intensity, we examined whether combining a short bout of high intensity exercise with a one day high-carbohydrate intake could provide a faster way to carbohydrate load.

To this end, we asked a group of participants to cycle for 150 seconds at 130% of their maximal aerobic capacity followed by a 30-second all-out sprint. For the next 24 hours, we fed them the equivalent of 10 grams of carbohydrate-rich food per kilo of body mass.

To our surprise, after only 24 hours their muscle glycogen stores increased to levels comparable to or higher than those reported in previous studies on carbohydrate loading.

foodiesathome.com

One limitation with this regimen is that many endurance athletes may not wish to perform three minutes of intense exercise on the day before competing. Ideally, it would be better if they could accumulate as much glycogen within one day but without a glycogen-depleting exercise bout.

Sherman and colleagues had shown it was possible without a glycogen-depleting period of exercise to store maximal amounts of muscle glycogen if a carbohydrate-rich diet was adopted for three days while tapering exercise-training.

We examined whether this approach could work in endurance-trained athletes fed the equivalent of 10 g of carbohydrate-rich food per kilo of body mass while remaining physically inactive for a whole day.

We found that muscle glycogen stores reach maximal levels within only one day of starting this regimen, with no added benefits by extending the high-carbohydrate intake period for up to three days.

In other words, all that is required of our endurance athletes who trained regularly and want to carbohydrate load before competing is simply to interrupt their training for one day and eat the equivalent of 10 grams of carbohydrate-rich food (e.g. pasta, bread, rice, potatoes) per kilo of body mass during that day.

Simply, the best

To the best of our knowledge, no better carbohydrate loading regimen has been published since then, but many athletes still rely on earlier regimens.

Our carbohydrate loading protocol sounds simple, and it is simple – but it works.

 

A good review of the Nike Vaporflys 4%, basically save up your pennies and buy a pair when they become available, nuff said !

 

Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% Detailed Breakdown and First Run and Race Impressions Review: Sensational, A Game Changer

The Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% ($250) is the non customized version of the shoe worn by Eliud Kipchoge at the recent Breaking 2 attempt where he ran the fastest (unofficial) marathon time of 2:00.25. It was worn by both the men’s and women’s winners of the 2017 Boston Marathon.

The Vaporfly 4% is the product of extensive bio mechanics and materials research as part of the goal of  Nike’s goal of breaking 2 hours in the marathon, the 4% representing Nike estimate of the potential improvement  in running economy, with individual runners varying up or down from the shoes. Added to running economy are the ideal training, course conditions and nutrition required to break the magic barrier.
Stats
Official Nike weight: 6.5 oz/184 g size 10, equivalent to approx. 6.2 oz size 9
My production pair in US size 8.5 weighed 6.56 oz /186 g, so a size 9 would weigh approx. 6.8 oz.
-approx.1.6 oz/145 g less weight than Zoom Fly)
Stack height: 31mm heel/21 mm forefoot, 10mm drop.
-2mm less stack heel and forefoot than Zoom Fly)

RoadTrailRun first tried on a single VaporFly 4% at the Boston Marathon here, tested and reviewed the heavier, “similar” Zoom Fly ($150) here and now have had a chance to take a first run in a pair of our own.
Unlike the Zoom Fly, with nearly identical stack heights and midsole geometry, the lighter weight (by approx. 1.6 oz), Vaporfly with its soft and bouncy ZoomX Pebax midsole foam and full carbon plate provided me in my first test run a similar but far more cushioned, responsive, shock free and fluid ride than the Zoom Fly.
The Vaporfly 4% is far more forgiving on the legs than the Zoom Fly and for sure the Zoom Streak 6, easier on the legs is part of the Breaking 2 goal of getting runners to the marathon’s later stages with something left.
Time will tell as to durability of all these new materials but I would not hesitate to not only race but do all faster workouts in them.

First Run
I struggled at faster than my marathon paces in the Zoom Fly but not at all in VaporFly. While of course I was excited to try them, my 4 mile run at 6800 foot altitude on a fairly hilly course with lots of sun and temperatures above 85 F was a solid 15-20 seconds per mile faster than I would have expected for the effort, coming in at 8:17 pace.  It was my second run of the day, the first being a slower 4 mile run. The only place I struggled was on a very steep 600 meter hill, the stiffness of the carbon fiber plate, the Vaporfly being a completely flex free shoe in the conventional sense, requiring knee lift and drive something I do not have.  I walked away from the workout with fresh legs but a touch of soreness in the achilles.

First Impressions and Fit

  • Impossibly light and yet highly cushioned.
  • Step in is soft and slipper like, a bit squishy up front.
  • The “falling forward” I felt when I first tried them on at Boston is noticeable but not extreme when walking and becomes part of the flow when running.
  • The sole is literally tacky and sticks ever so slightly to pavement.
  • Trying them on with light socks at true to size I was initially concerned that the very minimal heel counter and collar would not stabilize the heel.  On my first run no issues or concern with heel hold so far and my test run had steep uphills, downhills and flats but it was short run so more testing is required
  • The fit everywhere was impeccable, roomy secure, and pressure free.
  • This is not a race flat type such as with the Zoom Streak 6 or even I would say the Pegasus but a marathon fit, clearly designed for some foot expansion. The toe box has high vertical volume.
  • The mid foot is eerily secure without any pressure as the VaporFly does away with Flywire and uses an internal underlay tied into the laces. I felt a touch of pressure under the arch trying them on but not on the run.

Upper

Fit was true to size with light socks. 
The upper is a single layer Nike’s Flymesh with no lining and with lots of ventilation across the top. There is a touch of stiffener baked into the toe area to create a soft toe bumper and vertical volume.There is only one visible overlay, a strap running from the last lace hole to the rear and only on the medial side. It is bonded on the outside and stitched on the inside so this strap means business and is effective.

The mid foot hold does away with any Flywire, as the Zoom Fly has, adopting a similar approach to the fine Zoom Terra Kiger 4 trail shoe (RTR review).

An inner ventilated suede like “strap” is attached at the top of the midsole bucket seat side walls on both sides, the foot does slightly sit down into the midsole on both sides of the mid foot. It free floats up to the lace loops, wraps to the outer upper where it is attached becoming the lace loops.

As in the Kiger (which also adds a second inner stretch bootie sleeve) the wrap is consistent and pressure free.The sock liner is flat and securely glued down..
The heel counter construction or lack of it had me initially concerned as for sure I am a heel striker.

The far rear at the red “timing themed strap” is moderately firm down low then gets softer up to the heel tab. A thin wishbone of decently firm padding wraps the heel collar just below the top of the knit upper.

Part of what I initially felt, and which concerned me, was the fairly loose last rim of mesh. On the run the  hold action is down lower at the padded collar. While I might prefer a bit more heel counter especially given the pointy rear foot landing all has been just fine so far and in fact more securely held than the Zoom Fly, although I was a half size up in those which was not really necessary and maybe contributed to some of the instability I felt.

The bottom of the tongue is an extension of the forefoot mesh material with the top an asymmetrical plasticky but soft enough material covering most of the lace up and then lower down running down each side in strips on either side of the mesh to provide some structure to keep the tongue from bunching and folding.

Lace up was perfect. I found that over tightening the laces creates some top pressure as the tendency given the unstructured upper is to cinch down which I found was un necessary as foot hold is more than adequate without over tightening.

Midsole
The midsole is Nike new ZoomX Pebax foam with the embedded 100% carbon plate. The plate is located as illustrated by the pen line drawn on the midsole in the picture below.

Once the plate reaches the outsole it runs directly above the outsole, at ground level. The location of the plate appears to be the same as in the Zoom Fly with the Zoom Fly’s is a polymer carbon composite and not full carbon.
It is clear the combination of 2mm less stack, ZoomX foam, removal of the full heel counter and carbon plate is where most of the weight reduction comes from compared to the Zoom Fly with its more conventional EVA and carbon polymer composite plate.

Essentially Nike has put a spike plate in the Vapor Fly. It is close to the heel at landing with 20 mm plus of foam below to cushion impact and provide 10mm of drop, accommodating for the fact that marathoners don’t run on as much on the forefoot as track runners do but also cleverly given the plate near the foot even heel strikers won’t linger long. As the foot transitions it sinks into the front foam which is effectively thicker over the plate than at the heel.

So from contact at the rear where the plate is close to the foot it is clear the design wants us

  • to not feel shock at the heel but also to move along, all that cushion below the plate at the heel,
  • then get/fall forward as the foot compresses the front foam on the way to toe off.

The front cushion is sublime  and when the foot pushes down and forces meet the plate at ground level the toe off is immediate but smooth and fluid quite unlike the firm harsh response of most road flats. So while response is not as instant as a firm midsole race shoe, even Zoom Air ones such as the Streak, or the Zoom Fly which relies on EVA, there is much less shock transmitted to the legs. The shoe is forgiving where it needs to be for long races and then just at the right moment.  Pop!

Usually saving such weight or putting a shoe way down below 7 oz means that in comparison the ride will be firmer and more responsive. Well here the Zoom X carbon combination is actually far easier on the legs than the Zoom Fly. The cushion is silky smooth and softer under load, softer, more forgiving but at the same time with far more bounce back when combined with the carbon plate which surely plays a role.  The softer yet more dynamic cushion and response upfront is particularly noticeable when compared to the Zoom Fly . There is a distinct sensation of  sinking into the foam on transition and “falling” forward to toe off.  While the stiffness takes some adjusting to, as the Vapor Fly is completely and totally stiff the stiffness is far less noticeable here than in the Zoom Fly. With my poor knee lift and drive I didn’t struggle at all to transition and drive up and away expect on a very steep uphill where things went south.

Some have commented on the wrinkling of the outer midsole side walls as being a sign of compression of the midsole.  After 4 miles I see some wrinkles but think the midsole has an outer “skin” which will for sure wrinkle and something I have seen in other shoes. I have no idea yet how long this super light and lively new midsole will last. This is after all a race shoe.  I will carefully tabulate miles for our full review.
Outsole

The outsole is full contact up front and patches at the rear with very thin sipes cut in to the material.

It is literally tacky and slightly sticky on the pavement. I could feel the slight stick both walking and running.  The heel rubber feels slightly firmer than the forefoot rubber which makes sense as that carbon plate is right under the forefoot rubber.  It is not particularly thick.  I do wish, as with the Zoom Fly that the rear of the heel geometry on the ground was more conventional less pointed and more rounded.  While the elites likely land further forward most of the rest of us could use more ground contact back there.
It is important to note that while the Vaporfly 4% is a very comfortable up tempo trainer this is a racing shoe which was not designed for trainer class mileage. Depending on your landing, foot scuffing during gait, etc… the outsole has significant areas of exposed midsole which can scuff and wear. I have seen some wear at one heel in particular. Use a layer of Shoe Goo as I have to protect these areas.

Initial on the Run Data from a Road Trail Run Reader
Road Trail Run reader Joshua Sun also received an early pair from Running Warehouse where I also purchased my Vaporfly. Joshua is a former avid cyclist who has run a marathon and several halves. He focuses his running on short fast efforts on the same loop and has also run the Zoom Fly. He was kind enough to share his first run impressions and comparative data using a Garmin Forerunner 935 and Running Dynamics Pod (see our article here) with us:

“There’s a 3.25 mile route that I run frequently near my home.  I use this route to benchmark my performance and to test out running shoes.  Basically I run this route as fast as I can.  There’s not much room for placebo effect because I’m pushing myself about as hard as I can without blowing up.  Over the years, I’ve developed a good sense of how hard I can push without blowing up and I run this route with a very consistent effort.  I track these runs using my Garmin 935 with RD pod.  Based on how much better the numbers were with the Vaporfly, I’m pretty certain that I would run faster in the Vaporfly than any other shoe out there.  I’m less confident in exactly how much better it is without a lot more data.

Here is some data about my runs in the Zoom Fly and Vaporfly – about 1 week apart so fitness level shouldn’t be much of a factor.

Distance 3.25m
Pace: Vaporfly 7:18; Zoom Fly 7:33
HR Avg: Vaporfly 156; Zoom Fly 155 (However, both of these are about 4% lower than my average heart rate when I try to run this route fast – so it matches up well with Nike’s claims.  I think the range is about 2-6% in Nike’s testing.)
Cadence: Vaporfly 157 Zoom Fly 160
Stride Length: Vaporfly 1.39m; Zoom Fly 1.31m
Vertical Oscillation: Vaporfly 10cm; Zoom Fly 10.9cm
Ground Contact Time: Vaporfly 264ms; Zoom Fly 248ms

What this shows is that I’m running at a slightly slower cadence but that my stride has gotten longer and lower (more horizontal and less vertical, which is how better runners usually run).  You can see from the ground contact time that the shoe really takes longer to compress but then propels me forward longer and lower than with the Zoom Fly.  (And I’ve run faster in the Zoom Fly than any other shoe.  I ran about a 7:37 pace in the Zoom Streak, which is next fastest.) ”

Ride and Conclusions
What more can I say. Only one run in, the ride and performance is incredible. Vapor Fly is light, cushioned, dynamic and despite the stiffness of the shoe far more fluid than the Zoom Fly for me.  I ran 15-20 seconds faster per mile than I would have expected to for the course and effort in my first run. Can I sustain those kinds of improved paces over longer distances given the unusual stiff geometry? Only more runs will tell.  I will be running a downhill 10K race Monday and will update this post.  I am particularly curious as to how they will perform at faster than half marathon pace for me. I had difficulty running faster paces in the Zoom Fly as I had difficulty transitioning to toe off rapidly enough with my poor knee lift and drive.  Here I am almost sure I will not struggle nearly as much but racing will tell.
More testing to come but I will certainly reach for them for 10K and  half marathon and if the heel stability is adequate and the stiffness not issues when tired for a full marathon. Faster runners may still reach for “racing flats” for up to a half but many will consider the Vapor Fly for the marathon.

Considerations
Are the VaporFly 4% worth $250? Well sports “toys” can cost big money, just think bikes and ski equipment. Lighter weight and performance advantages claimed, real or otherwise, always come at a premium cost and some downsides as well.
Are they only for world record setting elites? Absolutely not!  These are very forgiving if unusual shoes. I think they will provide at least some of the advantages of Breaking 2 to serious recreational runners, not the least of which is the demonstrated advantages of lighter weight for racing shoes yet here with plenty of cushion. Here incredibly light weight is combined with outstanding bouncy cushion, plenty of it and response.  My initial run was considerably faster than I would have expected.
Are they only for racing? I say for most yes.
While they are fabulous for up tempo training the exposed midsole under foot may see accelerated wear depending on your foot strike and scuffing patterns. I see some at 25 miles I am saving mine for races, their intended use, and will protect these high wear areas with Shoe Goo. To date apart from some creasing of the midsole walls the cushion and stability is intact.
Some caution advised
Some may struggle with the stiffness so caution getting used to them is advised as I think you will work your achilles and calves more than usual if you have poor knee drive and the narrow landing in the back may not be for everyone.

Update: My 10K went very well. 1st in my 60-64 age group at 7:04 pace on my watch which is certainly faster than my marathon pace and with no issues. The course was at altitude between 5100 and 4500 feet so downhill with about 1.5 miles of flats and the Vaporfly performed magnificently on flats, moderate downhills, and uphills. The first half mile was a very steep downhill where they did feel somewhat unstable at the heel. The combination of the outstanding cushion, fluid transitions, snappy response was outstanding and truly unique. My legs were none the worse for wear the next day.
Update: Ran another 10K race in the Vapor Fly, this time a flat course at sea level. I have run this race 3 times since 2013 and this was race was my fastest time by 7 seconds. Faster isn’t easy at my age… 60.   The entire difference came in the last 1.2 miles. My legs were just fresher in the finishing stretch. I had no soreness the next day and the day after “ran” a very mountainous (over 4000 feet of vertical)  half on slick trails none the worse for the 10K race. While there may be faster shoes, even for me, for a 10K as race distances increase the advantages of the VaporFly in terms of performance also seem to increase.

 

Fitzgerald vs Banting , next weekend it is on like ‘donkey kong’!

As you will know I have spent many hours pontificating over diets since my injury earlier in the year gave me so much free time. I mean if you can’t run you might as well spend time talking about all things running, via a blog of all things, now there’s a thought ? Anyhow next weekend it will be time for two diets to go to war, in the words of Frankie goes to Hollywood (google it!) In one corner we have Jonny ‘boy’ Pendse, the Banting diet poster boy,  ( http://www.health24.com/Diet-and-nutrition/Weight-loss/The-golden-rules-of-Banting-20140409 ) while in the other corner we have the  Matt Fitzgerald ( in Matt we trust) up-and-comer Mark ‘extra maple syrup with my pancakes please’ Conway.  ( https://mattfitzgerald.org). Both have been following their respective diets over the last few months and this has culminated in similar times for City to Surf marathon pre-race indicators.

Mark’s improvement has been nothing sort of spectacular since purchasing  an individual training plan from Matt (available on his website and training peaks ( http://www.trainingpeaks.com  ) ) Our running group is in awe of Matt and we have all read most of his books and live by his high carb, low fat diet (with extra maple syrup whenever possible) so when Jon announced he was following a different diet it was met with much rebuke by the group. Once we looked further into this ‘banting diet’  there was much shaking of heads and murmurs of discontent. The major stumbling block, which stood out like an ISIS suicide bomber at an ‘eat as much bacon as you can‘ party, was no pancakes  after our long runs (or at all really?) , which meant no extra maple syrup. This was enough for nearly all of the running group to give this banting thing the cold shoulder, as they gleefully tucked into their pancakes. We won’t even get into the ‘no Yelo’ muffins or no sugar rules. On the plus side banting does recommend high fat which means bacon, good quality meat and lots of eggs. This was acceptable even if it meant adding salad and vegetables but the no or little sugar was the real killer. As I have said many times a runner gives up so much in their pursuit of excellence or their goals, with the Matt Fitzgerald , and the long held running diet, we don’t have to give up too much diet wise. I mean who doesn’t like pancakes after a long run and muffins when we’re carboloading, running is a possessive and demanding soul mate but at least once in a while we can treat ourselves.

Mark C., far left, living the Matt Fitzgerald dream, muffin in hand at Yolo, after a 10k PB earlier in the morning. Also in the shot Mark L. and Mike who both also advocate the carbs, carb, carbs diet !! (albeit Mike finds a lot of his carbs in beer ?) 

So Mark is thriving on his Matt Fitzgerald training plan, and the diet that he recommends, while Jon has now decided after the ‘Mr. Squishy’ (search for the posts on this in the blog.) comments that he needed to change to a banting diet to improve and lose some of that puppy fat he was holding onto,  albeit into his thirties. Photos start to arrive on Whats-app of Jon’s chosen breakfast options and they are worlds apart from the choices the old ‘Mr. Squishy’ Jon would have made. In the photo below he even puts the toast to one side and adds bacon. This diet has helped Jon lose a lot of weight and his half marathon time has dropped by 9 minutes in a matter of months (albeit it was pretty slow to start with thanks to the extra ‘puppy fat’ he was carrying.) The new diet and weight loss has allowed Jon to improve enough to contemplate a sub 2hours 50 minutes City to Surf next weekend , which coincidentally is the same time Mark is looking for. This will be a 5 minute PB for Mark and a return to 2012 times for Jon. Either way it is going to be one hell of a race and I am desperate to join them and watch the whole thing unfold.

 

Eggs, salad, vegetables and always, extra bacon. Jon’s new breakfast of champions. He tells me he doesn’t eat the bread.

 

This is where we come to the crux of the problem. I  have had 6 weeks of quality training under my belt since my 3rd comeback from my calf tear and realistically should be targeting a safe sub 3 hour marathon. Due to the rehabilitation from my calf tear I have only ran two long runs and both of those have been in the last week, come race day at 30k , if I go out too fast, I could be in a world of pain with 12k to go to enjoy the sensation. A safe sub 3 though would mean I don’t get to watch Jon and Mark , and their respective diets, go at it and unfortunately this is too good an opportunity to miss. Fitzgerald, the poster boy of the present running community, globally, a best selling author and accomplished runner against an undertaker from the early twentieth century who wanted to lose weight and goes against everything that is sacrosanct in running diets. This could redefine running diets as we know it , globally and save the lives off billions of people if Jon and the banting diet come through. Pancake sales would plummet and the world would be a ‘thinner’ place, runners would probably improve and we’d all live a lot longer and we get to eat more bacon. On the face of it this sounds like a good thing but you must then give up our sugar addition , which if managed, ain’t that bad , is it ? Pancakes once a week after a long run, is it too much to ask and maybe the odd muffin or two weekly, surely not?  So next Sunday I’m going to run with boys and see how long I can hang on while these two runners fuelled by diets poles apart  go head-to-head. Probably won’t make the finish but I’m sure the winning runner will tell me all about it and, as an added incentive, I’ll let them have free reign for a post on the subject, better than winning the event I reckon.

 

Long runs, do you really need them ? We are about to find out next Sunday.

 

 

Of course you could always sit on the fence and go for a high carb, high fat and high sugar diet as shown in my lunch after completing the Australia Day Ultra earlier in the year but it would probably be best if you run a 100k minimum before eating this on a regular basis, mores the pity !

High fat, high carb and high sugar, is this the answer ?

 

The diet that offers good food, eat as much as you like and helps you run faster.

I was reading through comments to some of my posts this morning and came across one from my running buddy Jon who has transformed himself over the last few weeks into a fat burning machine taking on board the Banting diet.   ( https://realmealrevolution.com/the-facts ) It really is worth a read as the results are amazing.

My lightbulb moment commenced as I was, for the  2nd time (unrelated) on same day  called Mr.Squishy! First one being as my son gave me a cuddle goodbye in the morning (cheeky git), and the 2nd one being by yours truly out on a lunch time run asI found myself dropped at the back of the pack (on an ‘easy’ run!)… what happened to me pushing the pace at the front, seems longer and longer ago in fact I think my age began with a 2 back then !! (approaching 36 now) Enough was enough, time to do something.

It was then I started an unsustainable ‘calorie restricted diet’, this is truly short term focus as never works long term, however a few weeks in I remembered an Ironman mate Toyney had mentioned several years ago about Banting (LCHF), I laughed it off at the time thinking along lines above loving my carbs too much !

Anyway, I looked at some of Toyney’s material he had given me at the time, and what I read seemed like perhaps this is what I had been waiting for all along ! Forget ‘calorie restricting’, instead eat and eat how much you like, caveat being based around a Traffic Light system (good enough for kids at school, yet as adults we have instilled good eating habits and moderation being the key?); Green eat as much/Orange in moderation/Red to avoid: http://www.bantingfood.com.au/banting-food-list.html Note: This list has actually been modernly adapted to now green/light orange/dark orange/light red/dark red ! (I’d recommend reading ‘The Real Meal Revolution 2.0 by Jonno Proudfoot’, about $30)

Bingo. Weight came off, week by week, in fact around 10% in 10 weeks. About 15/16 weeks in now, and weight has plateaued (anyone looking at me would say nothing left to lose !) – food seems and feels ‘sustainable’. To me, it doesn’t feel like a ‘diet’. Truly a clean way of eating. Who doesn’t love eating fresh food every day, it doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact its equal if not cheaper than the way I ate previously (but wasn’t about the cost). First weeks hardest adapting over to carb depletion, but since then training as usual.

Where to from here, well i haven’t missed my carbs (mostly); training and volume consistent. Still have plenty of energy for double days/long runs etc. I have several new gears in my training regime not seen for many years. I have new motivation to achieve some real PB’s so watch this space. I am testing out a shortened carb load in the marathon for that ‘intense’ effort, but otherwise carbs are gone (for now).

Jon has always been a good runner with a pb of sub 2hrs50mins and many sub3 marathons but he has struggled over the last few years to regain that high standard but lately the ‘old Jon’ is back and then some. What brought it home to me was his morning run yesterday. A 32k commute to work where he progressively got quicker and ended up running sub 2hrs50min marathon pace. He then backed up the morning run with another quicker 10k at lunchtime. That’s a marathon distance at, or close to, his marathon pace.

32k morning run to work at Marathon pace.

What really impressed me wasn’t the distance, though that is still pretty good re-work on a Winters morning, but the way he finished. If you look at his last 10k they were as quick or quicker than the middle section of his run. He was accelerating into the ‘death zone’ (that distance from 32k onwards where the body tends to start to malfunction, the wall as us marathon runners call it!) This is what really stood out, it wasn’t your normal long run where most of the time it is just watching the watch and hitting the ‘time target’, this was a proper test. To then get back out a few hours later and throw down another fast 10k brings home how Jon has transformed his cardio fitness and fat burning.

If you wanted proof the Banting diet works look no further than Jon, bye-bye Mr. Squishy, you will be missed.

The old Jon would eat anything, including medals !! Not sure that is a High Fat , Low Carb. option ?

 

If it ain’t broken then why fix it. ?

High Fat, Low Carb diet, is this the running revolution we need to have ?

Lately I have been looking at new diets and training regimes while all the time ignoring my Stella 2016 season where I ran so many PB’s and achieved times I thought beyond me. Since my injury I have been mulling over all different types of training programs aimed at the older runner because I assumed what I was doing was wrong. Was my calf injury caused by over training or just old age catching up with me? Either way I needed to change the way I trained as old age wasn’t going away anytime soon and over training was a definite possibility.

Initially I turned to Joe Friel and read ‘Fast after Fifty”. ( http://joefriel.typepad.com/blog/ ) as the title  resonated with me after turning 50 myself in February this year. His points was then mimicked by the book I’m currently reading written by Mark Sisson, ( http://www.marksdailyapple.com/blog/ ) another triathlete over 50 who has changed his diet and training due to the onset of father time. His book Primal Endurance is a virtual carbon copy of what Joe is preaching. Add in Phil Maffetone  ( https://philmaffetone.com/ ) and it seems everything I’m doing, and have been doing, is wrong. All three of these authors are advocating the same high fat, low carb diet (HFLC) and also a cross-fit type exercise regime which , apparently, is better suited to the older athlete.  Even Tim Noakes has changed his tune and moved to the HFLC diet. He is determined to take on type 2 Diabetes which he puts down to the carb rich diet we have been recommend and encouraged to eat , and have been for the last 50 years. ( https://www.thenoakesfoundation.org/ ) . Noakes feels so strongly he had been taken to court , where we won, and also set up his foundation. This from the running god and author of the running bible “The Lore of Running”.  All four of these guys cannot be wrong surely. Years and years of experience at the highest level combined with the best authorities on the subject all coming to the same conclusion.

I get what the guys are saying but in the back of my mind is always my 2016 session where I basically started to run twice a day , every day, albeit normally at a lot slower pace. I also raced nearly every other weekend so regularly put myself in the anaerobic zone. My diet was the stereotypical runners diet, very carb focused with smatterings of pancakes and muffins. This worked and produced great results at 49, better than I had ever achieved.  So what I was doing was all wrong according to the HFLC diet advocates but it worked. In my corner is most of the running world but the same could be said of all the “the earth is flat” believers from the Middle Ages. sometime the Status Quo is wrong. Is this the case with the HFLC diet ?

Taking this one step further will we look back in 10-20 years and ask how we could possibly eat junk food as part of the average persons daily food intake ? Will McDonalds be akin to smoking in the seventies, once embraced and then when the truth came to light vilified ? Are a runners best friend , carbohydrates, the scourge of the performance enhancement and holding us back by providing poor fuel and adding weight to our running frames for no return. It gets worse of course with the next inline in the HFLC most wanted radar, sugar. Of course sugar offers little or no nutritional   benefit but boy it can taste good, especially when disguised as a Yelo muffin or Clancy’s pancake. This is of course the ‘fly in the ointment’, the ‘elephant in the room’,  giving up carbs and sugar is not just against everything we have been taught over the years , it goes against our taste buds. Who really can honestly say they don’t like a good donut or three ? Dark Chocolate Digestives, brownies, ice cream , the list is a long one and all are justified with the old adage ‘I’ve just ran xxx, I’ve earned this‘.

This will be the last post on nutrition for a while because truth be told I haven’t really answered the question of what diet to follow. I have said this before many times, ‘just eat good food’, be it carbohydrates or a diet rich in fat and no sugar. What works for you works for you. I feel the most important part is you need to be happy with what you are doing and achieving the goals and targets you set yourself.  If you’re ticking all the boxes what does it matter if you enjoy the odd ‘treat‘ , you only live once (I’m assuming?) so you need to be happy. The only caveat of course is you also need to be healthy so don’t take this post as an excuse to drive to your nearest deli and order 24 donuts. Short term you may be happy ( after you recover from the sugar high headache!) but long term your health may suffer. With all the good will in the world people you still need a balanced diet if you want to be a successful and happy runner, and this is always the end goal.

 

 

 

Is Quiche the answer ?

The holy grail of running food ?

After the obligatory long run on Sunday me and the posse sat down at Clancy’s Café in sunny City Beach to mull over the weekly events. Due to a suicidal café manager they have stopped serving the best pancakes in Perth and instead offer waffles. This has not gone down well with the boys but needless to say we all ordered the waffles anyhow, after a slight protest which was of course ignored.  ( In Perth the customer is always wrong apparently. ?) As we all wolfed down our coffee’s imagine our surprise when the waiter came over with a quiche for the table. There was much laughter among the lads at the thought of one of the boys eating quiche but then Jon put up his hand and took the offending article from the waiters grasp. After a period of stunned silence the banter began in earnest. It started with the obvious comments about Quiche being invented by women so they could enjoy bacon and eggs and not feel guilty, where as there is nothing a man enjoys more than a bacon and egg sandwich smeared all over this face. We then moved into the old Wife’s tales about Quiche affecting a mans sexuality. True to his ‘Banting diet’ regime Jon even ate the quiche but left the pastry, as I tucked into my waffle I wondered if Jon was enjoying his quiche as much as I was certainly enjoying my waffles, with extra maple syrup.

After my post earlier in the week regarding diet, and Jon ordering quiche, the conversation again turned to weight, diet and running performance. The table agreed as a whole that the most important thing is to get to your racing weight and how you get there isn’t important as such. If Jon wanted to eat quiche and test his masculinity then that was his choice. The rest of us ‘real men’ chowed down on our waffles confident our sexuality was not being compromised.  Of course the quiche was probably helping Jon’s cause where as you would be hard justified to argue the case for waffles (with extra maple syrup) and weight loss to be perfect partners. I made a conscience effort to put in an extra hour on the Elliptigo in the afternoon to counter the waffles , a small price to pay me thinks.

I have attached the 10 golden rules of Banting below but, of course, have issues with a few of these. The first four are , at a push, do-able but the problem starts at number 5. Imagine skipping a meal, it just seems to alien to me (and all runners really. ). As runners we are normally always hungry as we exercise , the old adage calories out, calories in. The more calories we lose the more we need to refill, common sense surely ?  Thus skipping meals is something that never happens. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is a bare minimum. This lead me to number 6, to quote John McEnroe ‘You cannot be serious!’….No snacking ! Runners love to snack as we’re always hungry and truth be told we enjoy snacking.

Unfortunately  things now take a big turn for the worst as we look at rule number 7. No sugar, which means no sugar I assume, I had to reread it a few times to make sure I wasn’t missing something?  Oh dear, Mr. Banting just lost about 90% of the population with this ‘bad boy’ rule. No sugar means no waffles, muffins, pancakes, do I need to go on ? This for me is a show stopper but we’ll continue on,  rule 8 is another hard one to stomach (excuse the pun) as they’re taking out bread, pancakes, waffles again. (Banting really wasn’t a pancake fan was he?) Rule 9  is another tough one because there goes banana’s, our staple go to food after most runs.  Banting does redeem himself with rule 10 as eggs are a runners friends but in the Banting diet they become your number one food source. This must have serious consequences for the people around you on a daily basis as eggs can certainly cause some unpleasant smells to be offered to the world, if you know what I mean. (I’m sure Quiche does not have this unpleasant side affect and any aroma would smell of ‘elderberry’s’ ?)

So that about sums it up for me. It ain’t going to happen. I’ll get to my racing weight with extra hard work and it’s a price I’m willing to pay. So as Jon sits at home eating his quiche reading ‘Good Housekeeping Monthly’ I’ll be out on the pavement putting in the extra hard yards needed to justify the pancakes, waffles and ‘all things nice’ I’m about to devour and I wouldn’t have it any other way……

10 golden rules of Banting

1. Remember: this is not a high protein diet. It’s a high fat, medium protein, low carb way of eating

2. Choose real foods that look like what they are, and cook them from scratch

3. Fat is not the enemy. Enjoy it!

4. Eat only when you are hungry; eat until you are satisfied – then stop

5. Don’t eat when you’re not hungry. You won’t die if you occasionally skip a meal you don’t feel like eating.

6. Stop snacking. You won’t need to – it’s just a habit.

7. No sugar. It’s an addiction, and it’s probably best to go cold turkey. But if you need to make it a transition, substitute with Stevia, Zylitol or Erythritol – NOT artificial sweeteners.

8. No grains of any kind

9. No (or very, very little) fruit. Think of it as a sweet rather than a health snack.

10. Embrace eggs. They’re healthy, satisfying and very good for you.

So to sum up this post there are diets out there for all people but to me a diet should be defined as a ‘temporary’ change of eating habits that is long term unsustainable. I see it so many times at work where people go on the ‘liteneasy’ diet where the food is delivered to them daily and costs a kings ransom. They do lose weight but look miserable every time lunchtime comes around as I tuck into my smorgasbord of meat, rice and pudding (runners love pudding!) while they are faced with something that looks like it was prepared for a small child who has an allergy for anything that tasted good and loves tuna. Eventually they come off the diet and the weight returns like an old friend as they sneak to the comfort foods that made them smile and they enjoyed eating. This of course is the fundamental flaw in diets, you are changing peoples eating habits by giving them food they don’t really enjoy eating or quantities that are not satisfying. What a diet should do is couple the diet changes with a change in attitude towards nutrition. Once you enjoy eating the food offered it is no longer a diet but a lifestyle change, which is sustainable.

It looks like Jon has embraced quiche and thus he is enjoying the Banting diet and does not see it now as a constraining factor in his daily diet choice. Thus he is at or near his racing weight and running the best I have seen him run in many years. This is a double positive, a new diet that he is enjoying and a performance spike. Of course this is the sacrifice Jon is prepared to make but now he is at his racing weight he can control his urges and maybe treat himself to a ‘macho‘ waffle and maple syrup in the near future. Maybe next week there’ll be more than one quiche making its way our table, we’ll see.

Can a diet from the 1800’s be the answer to an ultra runners prayers?

The one reason why a HFLC diet will never work for me.

What William Banting did in the late 1800’s was basically describe a High Fat , Low Carb (HFLC) diet.   My friend Jon had taken on this diet and lost a considerable amount of weight and also improved his running, breaking sub3 for the first time in years in the recent Bunbury marathon. Truth be told I think a large portion of Jon’s weight loss was his ability to walk past the fridge in the evenings rather than scavenge like a starving hyena , which is the normal runners actions late in the evening, searching for one final sugar hit.  The only fly in the ointment is the guru of all things running and he who must be obeyed, Matt Fitzgerald, is not a HFLC fan. I have attached an article written by Erin Beresini quoting Fitzgerald and his views.

I think the best thing is to research the subject yourself and decide whether a HFLC diet is for you. To really gain the full benefit of this diet you’d also need to train aerobically (a posh word for slow!) for a few months to teach your body to burn fat. I personally reckon you’d have no choice but to train aerobically while starting this diet as you’d be without a runners best friend, Mr. Carbohydrates and his side kick sugar.

I’m curious myself to try out the HFLC diet but it would mean me forgoing my Yelo muffin  ( http://www.yelocornerstore.com.au/ ) and coffee and personally I’m not ready to give these up, even if I can improve my performance and even general health. We’re on this planet only once and we give up so much for our running I refuse to lose one of the few pleasure in my life. Myself I’m a believer in putting in massive weekly distance , without worrying too much about pace, eating as healthy as possible with the odd ‘treat’ and enjoying my running without a regimented training programs that must be adhered to. I run because I love running and I eat because I also love eating, restricting myself with a ‘diet’ (because that it basically what you are doing) does not sit well with me. It’s hard enough finding enough time in the day to run while juggling family, work, puppies, Elliptigo time sleep and other ‘stuff’; adding in food as well just becomes too hard. !

Do I believe a HFLC diet will work and do what it says, yep I do; will I change, no. Sorry people but this runner is sticking with the Status Quo and to quote my Dietitian professional running friend David Bryant when I questioned him on this subject he responded ‘Just eat good food’.  ( I took ‘good food’ to mean pancakes, muffins (from Yelo) etc..?)

Currently in my running group there is a split on the HFLC diet. Jon has embraced the diet and shut the fridge door while Mark C. has gone down the Matt Fitzgerald path and gorged on carbohydrates and sugar. Both are currently enjoying success with their chosen paths but I suspect Mark C. is enjoying himself a lot more. We’ll see this Sunday when Mark will chow down on waffles while Jon will lose himself in his scramble eggs, I know which one I’ll be ordering.

 

So digest (excuse the pun) the two articles below and then scurry off and research away, as with all things in the 21st Century it’s all on Google…..

 

William Banting was a British undertaker who was very obese and desperately wanted to lose weight. In the year 1862 he paid a visit to his doctor, William Harvey, who proposed a radical eating plan that was high in fat but included very few carbohydrates. By following this eating plan Banting experienced such remarkable weight loss that he wrote an open letter to the public, the “Letter on Corpulence”, which became widely distributed. As more people started following this eating plan to lose weight, the term “banting” or to “bant” became popularized.

Banting merely discovered what human beings were designed to eat: what early humans ate 200,000 years ago. Respected biologists, geneticists, paleoanthropologists and theorists believe that human genes have hardly changed since human beings began their journey on earth. If you could put the entire human history into one day, we have only been eating cereals and grains for five minutes and sugar for five seconds, a very short amount of time in our existence. After the success experienced by William Banting on this low-carb, high-fat eating plan, the “banting” diet became the standard treatment for weight loss in all major European and North American medical schools. But in 1959 it was excluded from all the major medical and nutritional textbooks.

In 1977 the US government published the Dietary Goals for the United States, a set of guidelines that advocated a diet high in carbs and low in fat, exactly the opposite of the diet we have been following for much of our existence. It was decreed that we should eat six to eleven portions of grains per day and that sugar was absolutely fine to add to everything. This diet was subsequently adopted across most of the Western world and a plethora of low fat-food products hit the shelves. This has had a disastrous effect on our health. Since the early 1980’s the incidence of obesity and diabetes has risen rapidly. Can we really call this a coincidence?

There is a common misconception that eating fat, especially saturated fat, is bad for you and that it is a primary cause of high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. This is simply not true and was based on a flawed study by Ancel Keys in 1953. The truth is that a diet high in carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates and sugar are the cause of obesity, diabetes as well as other chronic illnesses. Vegetable (seed) oils and their derivatives such as margarine are also a contributing factor to heart disease, although manufacturers tell us the exact opposite.

This might come as a surprise, but of the three macronutrients in our diet (protein, fat and carbohydrates), only carbohydrates are non-essential for human life. We cannot function properly for more than a few days without eating fat; without an adequate protein intake we develop protein-calorie malnutrition within a few months. But avoiding carbohydrate has no short- or long-term effects on humans, other than the (usually beneficial) effect of weight loss, especially in those who are the most overweight. While we need a constant supply of glucose, it can be produced by the liver from fat and protein and doesn’t need to be ingested as carbohydrate in our diets.

The usual refrain of anyone looking at banting for the first time is “but what about my cholesterol?” There is much evidence to support the fact that cholesterol is not the culprit in heart disease. A bit like a policeman being at the scene of the crime being blamed for the crime – cholesterol will only adhere to a ‘leaking’ artery wall which is damaged by inflammation – to protect you. By living on carbs and sugar those arteries remain inflamed. Sugar is the most inflammatory thing you can put into your mouth, and will continue to rob you of perfect health. Grains are turned into sugar by the body. So a high carbohydrate diet will always foster inflammation in the body, not only in the arteries but the brain, liver, digestive tract and joints leading to many of the chronic diseases we see today which are supposedly ‘incurable’. Many people report relief from all the above in a relatively short time after adopting the Banting lifestyle.

 

Below is the article quoting Matt Fitzgerald, who is the running guru. Matt is not a fan of the HFLC diet but Tim Noakes is a big advocate , and as we all now Tim Noakes was the original running guru. Maffetone is also a big fan of the HFLC diet and training at an aerobic pace restricting your pace by heart rate. ( https://philmaffetone.com/ )

 

Before Dr. Robert Atkins launched his low-carb diet in 1972, there was Banting, the fat British undertaker who designed coffins for England’s elite in the 1800s. According to Men’s Health, the guy needed to drop a few kilos, so his doc put him on a high-fat-low-carb (HFLC) diet and, presto change-o, he lived to 82 and was buried in a skinny man’s coffin.

It may seem silly to talk about Banting now, but he’s back from the dead, courtesy of a controversial sports scientist who has been vehemently championing the Brit’s diet for the past few years. Professor Tim Noakes, from the Sports Science Institute of South Africa at the University of Cape Town, even published a book of Banting recipes that sold out not long after hitting shelves earlier this year. There’s just one problem with the diet: It’ll make you slower.

Matt Fitzgerald, author of the new book Diet Cults, has some sobering words for athletes who try to train on fat. “Decades of research indicate that high-carb diets are optimal for endurance and that ingesting carbohydrates during endurance exercise enhances endurance,” Fitzgerald says.

Sports nutrition scientist and European Journal of Sport Science editor in chief Asker Jeukendrup, for example, recently published a paper outlining carb needs during exercise to enhance endurance, suggesting athletes take in small amounts of carbs during training sessions lasting an hour, 60 grams of carbs per hour for exercise lasting two to three hours, and 90 grams per hour for exercise lasting longer than that—regardless of body weight or training status.

Noakes’ diet, on the other hand, advocates eating as little as 25 to 50 grams of carbs per day. While upping your healthy fat intake to around 40 percent of your total daily calories is fine, Noakes promotes a diet that’s 80 percent fat and only 10 percent carbs. Most endurance athletes, Fitzgerald says, should not be cutting carbs.

It’s not just science that shows carbs make athletes better. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence as well. Eating carbs “is almost a universal practice among the world’s best endurance athletes,” Fitzgerald says. “The typical Kenyan diet is 78 percent carbs, and they destroy the rest of the world in distance running.”

Clearly, there’s a lot going on behind Kenyan running prowess, but the carbs can’t be discounted. “If you care about your performance as an endurance athlete, the safe way to go is a high-carb diet,” Fitzgerald says. “If you go on the high-fat bandwagon, it’s a crapshoot.”

Proponents of HFLC claim the Banting diet is the key to weight loss and improved health and encourages the body to burn fat for fuel. But studies comparing HFLC to nonrestrictive diets found that, over time, people lost no more weight “banting” than they did otherwise. Celeste Naude, a researcher from the Center for Evidence-Based Health Care at Stellenbosch University, told the Mail and Guardian that “the dietary pattern and food choices promoted with a low-carbohydrate/high-fat diet are not well aligned with healthy dietary patterns and food choices known to, along with a healthy lifestyle, reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancers.”

Why the fervor? Fitzgerald says the desire to follow a restrictive diet is fulfilling mental, rather than physical, needs. He calls the phenomenon “sour grapes syndrome,” after Aesop’s fable about the fox who couldn’t reach some hanging grapes. Rather than admit he couldn’t jump high enough to get them, the fox decided they must be sour anyway. As Fitzgerald writes on his website, the victims of sour grapes syndrome:

…are endurance athletes who cannot cope psychologically with being slower than they would like to be and who resolve this cognitive dissonance by replacing the goal of doing their sport well with that of doing it “right.” The syndrome is being spread by various movements that promote alternative methods that are contrary to those practiced by the most successful athlete … By latching onto [HFLC], athletes can claim a kind of victory over superior competitors.

At some point, Fitzgerald writes, when a movement grows large enough, “it begins to win converts among athletes who are not, in fact, wracked with jealousy of faster athletes but who simply don’t know any better.” To enlighten those athletes, he cites a study recently published in the journal Nutrients in which researchers compared HFLC athletes with those eating a balanced diet. While HFLC made athletes leaner, it also caused them to lose power due to “impairment of the muscles’ ability to burn carbs.”

The athletes had, essentially, trained their bodies to use fat for fuel and decrease reliance on carbs. The result, Fitzgerald writes, is a reduced tolerance for high-intensity training and impaired “performance in all races except perhaps ultra-endurance events such as 100 km trail runs.” If you want to go fast, your body needs carbs for fuel. Training on a Banting diet makes your body less efficient at doing so, ultimately hobbling most athletes on race day.

The next time you’re thinking about cutting carbs, check your motives. If you’re doing it to look lean or run 62 miles or more at once, HFLC may work for you. But if you want to perform optimally at nearly any other endeavor, don’t ditch your bagels.

Jon, pre Bunting Diet while I was mixing both diets, pancakes and bacon. When it comes to Diets I swing both way !

 

Elliptigo is proving a life saver.

What’s better than one calf tear, two calf tears !!

My second ultra sound on the calf (above) revealed I had a new calf tear, albeit smaller,  at the top of the original 5cm calf tear. Shown in the image  by the ‘black hole’. On the bright side it is a lot smaller than the original one which is healing nicely apparently. I assume shown by the left-most arrow which looks like it shows the top of the first tear ,which is now a long thick black line. Not being a Doctor I could be completely wrong (it has happened before..) but the tear is definitely  the ‘black hole’ like image. So more rest apparently, which is what I assumed I would be told.

Truth be told I have been resting rather well recently and this has added another 3kg’s to the racing frame. For the first time in many years I can only just make out my ribs where as normally they stand proud like a WW2 prisoner of war with an eating disorder  To a runner a thing to be proud of, to Mrs. Matthews not so, I don’t think Karen realises we need to look like ‘racing snakes‘ to gain entry to the front of the pack club ! Although she may be happier with the bigger me I am not !

So in an effect to find my ribs again I have been spending more time on the Elliptigo and must admit to enjoying the experience thoroughly. The Ellipitgo really is so much fun and every time I use it I have to force myself back to the family home because of either hunger or, more likely, family (Dad’s taxi!) commitments. Today I was out and about on the Elliptigo and called Jon as I was close to his house,  ‘playing with’ a good size hill. I invited Jon along to take some photos of me and the Elliptigo with this post in mind. I’ve added a few of his photos below and I hope you take from these photos the look of joy on my face. I am having serious fun on the Elliptigo and working the right muscles,  without having to clothe myself in lycra and work the wrong muscles.

There are other advantages with an Elliptigo,  because of the longer wheelbase and smaller wheels, combined with extra shock absorbers (i.e. legs) you do get that ‘floating on air feeling’. This is so much better than the pounding you take on carbon fibre bikes as you do battle with the bike paths which, if there are anything like the ones in Perth, set numerous ‘concrete lip’ traps that jar your back into next week. You also lose that ‘John Wayne’ like-walk when you get off the bike after a long ride, even with the extra padded lycra.

Of course the main benefit it the ability to grab yourself a good cardio workout without damaging injured legs. I can ride the Elliptigo for hours where-as if I tried to run, with my original calf tear, I’d be lucky to get 500m without pulling up lame.

I also believe the Elliptigo helps with the healing process as it stimulates blood flow around the calf tear, this is my opinion of course and probably ‘bull’ but even as a placebo it must be helping ? In my opinion a good Elliptigo workout would act like a good stretching session, realigning muscle, without the risk of re-tearing the calf, again my opinion. (Any Doctor’s reading this are welcome to leave comments.)

Another plus point of the Elliptigo is just the fact you are out in the open enjoying nature, in all her splendour, instead of being forced to watch the bold and the beautiful repeats on tv while being sweated on by a rather large executive with hygiene issues. (I am assuming of course you are not ‘the bold and the beautifu’l fans or do not enjoy large executives sweating on you; given the choice of course I’d choose the latter. )

Right another good day on the Elliptigo and I have plans to commute to work every day next week so should rack up a few hundred kilometres,  pre-weekend. I must remember why I brought the Elliptigo on the first place though, it was something to do with running but it has been such a long time I’ve nearly forgotten what it was? This of course is a joke, I am as focused on my recovery as ever and after two 4k runs in the week so far (for a massive 8k weekly total, for readers who find it hard to add 4k and 4k.  ) pain and niggle free I am confident I will returning sooner rather than later. In the mean time I have my exercise outlet and little Jon on call, what more can any runner ask for?

 

A Jon Pendse classic…

 

Just before I ran Jon over….

 

 

Are we carboloading all wrong and do we really care ?

The Thursday before a marathon is when traditionally you start to gorge on carbohydrates to carbo-load for the big day on Sunday.  I use the old tried and tested 10g of carbohydrates for every kilogram of weight. For me that is 700g of carbohydrates for three days. It is a challenge and one I reckon 75% of all runners fail to meet it. They’ll make an effort of course but either not hit the required amount of carbs or fail to hydrate properly. One thing I guarantee is you will feel ‘bloated’ and ‘heavy’ after a good carbo-load but this is mainly liquid and on the day the benefit out weighs weight issues.

Is there a better way than a 3 day food feast though ? As runners it normally goes against the grain by eating so much and exercising so little. (I’m assuming you are tapering by now ?) The guilty feeling as you eat a muffin for a third day on the trot (I must admit to never having this feeling but I’ve been told some runners do , funny that ?) and stagger around with 2-3 litres of water sloshing about in your belly.

I’ve read that you can ignore the carbo-loading if you take carbs on the day in the form of Gu’s or shotz, or this at least negates the whole process. I’m not convinced but even Matt Fitzgerald has been quoted buying into this theory. Matt wrote an interesting article below on different methods of carbo-loading but I’m not ready to give up my muffin feeding frenzy just yet, so Matt,  in this case,  I’m staying traditional.!

 

 

The practice of carbo-loading dates back to the late 1960s. The first carbo-loading protocol was developed by a Swedish physiologist named Gunvar Ahlborg after he discovered a positive relationship between the amount of glycogen (carbs stored in the muscles and liver) in the body and endurance performance. Scientists and runners had already known for some time that eating a high-carbohydrate diet in the days preceding a long race enhances performance, but no one knew exactly why until Ahlborg’s team zeroed in on the glycogen connection.

Subsequently, Ahlborg discovered that the muscles and liver are able to store above-normal amounts of glycogen when high levels of carbohydrate consumption are preceded by severe glycogen depletion. The most obvious way to deplete the muscles of glycogen is to eat extremely small amounts of carbohydrate. A second way is to engage in exhaustive exercise. The stress of severe glycogen depletion triggers an adaptive response by which the body reduces the amount of dietary carbohydrate that it converts to fat and stores, and increases the amount of carbohydrate that it stores in the liver and muscles as glycogen. Ahlborg referred to this phenomenon as glycogen supercompensation.

Armed with this knowledge, he was able to create a more sophisticated carbo-loading protocol than the primitive existing method, which was, more or less, eating a big bowl of spaghetti.

Ahlborg came up with a seven-day carbo-loading plan in which an exhaustive bout of exercise was followed by three or four days of extremely low carbohydrate intake (10 percent of total calories) and then three or four days of extremely high carbohydrate intake (90 percent of total calories). Trained athletes who used this protocol in an experiment were able to nearly double their glycogen stores and exhibited significantly greater endurance in exercise lasting longer than 90 minutes.

After these results were published, endurance athletes across the globe began to use Ahlborg’s carbo-loading plan prior to events anticipated to last 90 minutes or longer. While it worked admirably, it had its share of drawbacks. First of all, many athletes weren’t keen on performing an exhaustive workout just a week before a big race, as the plan required.

Second, maintaining a 10 percent carbohydrate diet for three or four days carried some nasty consequences including lethargy, cravings, irritability, lack of concentration, and increased susceptibility to illness. Many runners and other athletes found it just wasn’t worth it.

Fortunately, later research showed that you can increase glycogen storage significantly without first depleting it. A newer carbo-loading protocol based on this research calls for athletes to eat a normal diet of 55 to 60 percent carbohydrate until three days before racing, and then switch to a 70 percent carbohydrate diet for the final three days, plus race morning.

As for exercise, this tamer carbo-loading method suggests one last longer workout (but not an exhaustive workout) done a week from race day followed by increasingly shorter workouts throughout race week. It’s simple, it’s non-excruciating, and it works. Admittedly, some scientists and athletes still swear that the Ahlborg protocol is more effective, but if it is, the difference is slight and probably not worth the suffering and inherent risks.

Note that you should increase your carbohydrate intake not by increasing your total caloric intake, but rather by reducing fat and protein intake in an amount that equals or slightly exceeds the amount of carbohydrate you add. Combining less training with more total calories could result in last-minute weight gain that will only slow you down. Be aware, too, that for every gram of carbohydrate the body stores, it also stores 3 to 5 grams of water, which leads many athletes to feel bloated by the end of a three-day loading period. The water weight will be long gone by the time you finish your race, however.

A friendlier carbo-loading strategy was devised in 2002 by scientists at the University of Western Australia. It combines depletion and loading and condenses them into a one-day time frame. The creators of this innovative protocol recognized that a single, short workout performed at extremely high intensity creates a powerful demand for glycogen storage in both the slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers of the muscles.

The researchers hypothesized that following such a workout with heavy carbohydrate intake could result in a high level of glycogen supercompensation without a lot of fuss. In an experiment, the researchers asked athletes to perform a short-duration, high-intensity workout consisting of two and a half minutes at 130 percent of VO2max (about one-mile race pace) followed by a 30-second sprint. During the next 24 hours, the athletes consumed 12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of lean muscle mass. This resulted in a 90 percent increase in muscle glycogen storage.

Runners have cause to be very pleased by these findings. Doing just a few minutes of high-intensity exercise the day before a competition will not sabotage tomorrow’s performance, yet it will suffice to stimulate the desirable carbohydrate “sponging” effect that was sought in the original Ahlborg protocol. This allows the athlete to maintain a normal diet right up until the day before competition and then load in the final 24 hours.

The Western Australia carbo-loading strategy works best if preceded by a proper taper — that is, by several days of reduced training whose purpose is to render your body rested, regenerated, and race-ready. In fact, several days of reduced training combined with your normal diet will substantially increase your glycogen storage level even before the final day’s workout and carbohydrate binge. When you exercise vigorously almost every day, your body never gets a chance to fully replenish its glycogen stores before the next workout reduces them again. Only after 48 hours of very light training or complete rest are your glycogen levels fully compensated. Then the Western Australia carbo-loading regimen can be used to achieve glycogen supercompensation.

An even newer carbo-loading protocol calls for athletes to eat a normal diet of 55 to 60 percent carbohydrate until three days before racing, and then switch to a 70 percent carbohydrate diet for the final three days, plus race morning. As for exercise, this friendliest carbo-loading method suggests one last longer workout (but not an exhaustive workout) done a week from race day followed by increasingly shorter workouts throughout race week.

Having said all of this, I would like to note finally that carbo-loading in general has been shown to enhance race performance only when athletes consume little or no carbohydrate during the race itself. If you do use a sports drink or sports gels to fuel your race effort — as you should — prior carbo-loading probably will have no effect. But it doesn’t hurt to do it anyway, as insurance.

Yelo muffin carbo-load frenzy, why wouldn’t you?