I don’t know sometimes. There is a rhythm to training and I suppose the same rhythm applies to life. There are ups and downs. And for the first two runs of the week, I was feeling up, you know? Had a great pace, felt wonderful afterwards, and everything seemed to be going in the right direction. Until it wasn’t.
In the long run, I was supposed to complete 14kms. There I was, two water bottles in hand, new bone conduction headphones playing my running playlist on Spotify, and I was in an excellent frame of mind. I was aiming for an under 5min per km pace and for the first few kilometres I was under a 4:20km pace. I was rocking it! And then guess what? I completely bonked just after the 10km mark. I had nothing left in the tank. My legs felt like lead. I couldn’t slow my heart rate. It got so bad that I paused my workout twice to get myself under control. I never, ever, pause a workout. Nothing was working. I was done, beaten, and I hated that.
I was perplexed. Just last week I ran 12km, in above 30degree heat and felt fine (other than the intense heat on the trail). This week was cooler by at least 7 degrees, so what gives?
I’m almost certain it had to do with my change in diet plan. I started the OMAD on Sunday of last week. This is the plan that has you eat just One Meal A Day (OMAD). I’d done it before and knew what to expect. And with that plan and quitting beer, my weight is now at 171lbs which is around my sweet spot for running.
The purpose of OMAD is to impose a caloric restriction, encourage fat adaptation, and obtain the benefits of fasting without going on a prolonged fast. So, I believe my metabolism had not yet shifted to using fat as fuel instead of glycogen and this caused me to completely run out of energy. Now, I was aware of this process so, an hour before I ran I consumed a protein shake with fruit and fast digesting carbs to prevent glycogen depletion from occurring. I think my body needed more time to complete the process. I should have eaten something like that in the morning and not simply an hour before. Well, that’s what I’m going to do this upcoming week for the long run. I need to make sure I have the fuel to complete the 16km’s scheduled. I can’t bonk again.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FORM
A lot of people think that running is just running and that there is nothing more to it than that. If you happen to be a heavy-foot striker, oh well, that’s just how you run, so deal with it. But like everything in life, it’s not that simple.
All runs count on the efficiency of motion and use of energy. If you watch elite runners (and I have on YouTube like a nerd), they all utilize the same technique and running principles. They all stand tall, use their arms to propel themselves forward, thrust their hips and legs forward, and their ending kick has their heels almost touching their own butts. No matter how tired they get or how long they are running for, you don’t see them break their form until they cross the finish line and collapse.
The best video I had seen on the proper running form was posted and performed by Dr. Mark Cucuzzella (he runs barefoot in the video so you can see foot strike landing. He doesn’t run his marathons barefoot). View it here:
The importance of concentrating on and keeping your form is more important (in my opinion) in the longer run. You want to expend the appropriate energy to the distance you are running. If your form is poor, it will take more energy and therefore, more time, to cover the same distance. If you discipline yourself to keep proper form, the long run will be easier and it will be completed faster making your suffering not as long-lived. I focus a lot on running tall.
When you see someone walking, slouched, head down, their body language makes you think that they are either tired or have low self-esteem. Your brain will think the same about your own form. If you slouch and have your chin touching your chest, your brain will think you’re tired and your energy will deplete. Running tall prevents your brain from this spiral. Your brain will think we got this, look at that form, let’s keep rolling along. This reduces inner dialogue friction and keeps you focused on efficient energy expenditure accomplished by proper running form. You can run farther faster. Form is super important and spending time on tweaking it will always pay off.
WHY I RUN IN ALTRA SHOES
I have been running in Altra’s for a couple of years now. For me, they are fantastic and I have not had a foot injury or soreness since making the switch. They are effective for me because they have a wide toe box so my feet never feel cramped or jammed inside. They also have zero drop soles (so the heel is not higher than the forefoot but level with it) which mimics barefoot mechanics. I believe barefoot running techniques are great to incorporate into training because no one was born with running shoes on. It is therefore the most natural way to train (which is what I think has lead to less injury for me).
WHY I WALK AROUND IN XERO SHOES
The Xero shoes have a lot going for them. They are meant to encourage barefoot mechanics. They have a super thin sole, and wide toe box and allow your feet to make closer contact with the ground. This increases the proprioceptive receptors in your feet thereby increasing your balance. There are so many bones and ligaments in the feet and traditional shoes diminish the strength of those and their purpose. Once again, these shoes, I feel, have led to less foot related injuries. I am toying with the idea of running in these shoes and have run on the treadmill with them. Maybe after this upcoming ultra, I’ll make the switch.
This animal (see video below) completed 100km in Xero shoes (Confidence in Chaos). It’s a great video, very inspiring and worth the watch. He also has very good training advice in a lot of fitness disciplines.
Altra’s and Xero shoes are well worth the time to check out.
Anyway, next week, after my recap, I’ll go into more detail of how my training is set up and why I set it up that way.
Resources to check out on YouTube for health and fitness: Will Tennyson, Greg Doucette, Joni Shreve, and More Plates More Dates.
Resources to check out on YouTube for running: Aravaipa Running, Confidence in Chaos, Dr. Mark Cucuzzella (for form), and Billy Yang for inspirational ultra videos.
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