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  • Marathoners switching to primal

    I have been reading Gary Taubes new book on why we get fat, and as it seems to address my personal issues with weight gain after menopause, I have decided to go primal. However, I have a marathon to run in a month. I was hoping some of the marathoners out there would know if this will affect my energy levels and ability to go the distance. I did have an issue with low energy about a year ago, and i ate more carbs to take care of it...this will not work on paleo I know.

    So...can I expect to have enough energy in a month to run my marathon? (I have done the miles...I just ran one this past weekend, so that is not the issue.)

    Thanks!

  • #2
    I would think so. You'll want to make sure you're getting enough primal carbs to meet your needs - squash, sweet potatoes, etc. I ran the Chicago Marathon last year and the Army 10 miler after starting PB. I caved at the last minute to the "I need pasta to get my carbs!" mindset and really wish I hadn't. I had a lot of trouble with stomach cramps and such. Since you've put in the miles, you'll be set - good luck!

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    • #3
      Marathoners should be training to keep their heart-rate low enough that burning fat for fuel is happening anyway. If you're trying to do the whole race at 75% of MHR, which requires constant carbs, then you're in for a world of hurt.

      There's a great thread on www.letsrun.com about Hadd training...basically its base-training at very low heart-rate, similar to Maffetone, but I think more complete. I attached the cut-paste job I did a while back as two .doc files here...if that doesn't work, email me if you're interested.

      I imagine if you were to follow that type of training you'd be able to run a race on more complex carbs and fat instead of needing gel-packs and pasta to get through. Also would be much easier on your body, heart, etc. Probably the safest way to do "chronic cardio"

      Horse may be out of the barn for your upcoming races, but maybe something to think about for next year?
      Attached Files

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      • #4
        Originally posted by livinlite View Post
        Marathoners should be training to keep their heart-rate low enough that burning fat for fuel is happening anyway. If you're trying to do the whole race at 75% of MHR, which requires constant carbs, then you're in for a world of hurt.
        isn't 75% MHR still in the "range" for fat burning? I know it's the upper limit but it is conceivable that you can go at 75% and stay fat burning
        I didn't like the rules you gave me, so I made some of my own.

        Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general. - Mark Rippetoe

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        • #5
          Yeah, sorry, I was busy at work and posting. I should have said something about lactate threshold, etc., but for practical purposes, MOST people running marathons without 2-3 years of running under their belt and 80+ mpw training are probably running at too high of a heart-rate to be really down in the comfortable fat-burning zone or able to consume slower-carbs during the race without GI trouble. I'm playing very fast and loose with the assumptions though...

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          • #6
            I would reccomend you do your Mary on your current nutritional plan, conversion to burning fat takes 2-6 weeks and the "carb flu" sucks to try and train through and your performance for your long run (should be this week) will sufffer greatly if you all of a sudden shift your body into a ketogenic state. I have seen several folks try what you suggest by altering their diet one way or another after reading the article de jour in runners world or something with disasterous results. NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY, goes for before race day too when you are going a long distance especially. Your body is currently set up to burn carbs, give it carbs. After your race, take the time and energy to convert your body to primal/paleo that it wants. And I'm not just saying this to scare you, I have plenty of real world experience coaching folks at endurance events who have crumbled doing what you are considering.

            Did I read correctly that you just ran a marathon this last week and are planning anonther one in 4 weeks time? Unless you are truely a genetically gifted athlete, the one in a month is going to really tear you up. 4 weeks recovery is the minimum I give my strongest athletes, and then we do another base build before moving onto more muscular endurance work. Running a marathon tears muscle fiber and they need to rest and repair themselves. I would never suggest your plan to anyone but the most gifted athletes.

            I hope you have a good run and don't get injured.
            Last edited by Karma; 01-13-2011, 12:32 AM.

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            • #7
              Thanks to all who answered...the next marathon is acually 5 weeks after the first one...I am a slow runner, so I am in that fat burning heart rate pace. My problem with marathons has been lack of energy after about 9-10 miles. I can force myself to go on, but this was not a problem when I first started. This is why I thought primal may give me more energy.

              I see the wisdom of not changing full out in case I do get the carb flu while my body is adapting. Maybe the best thing to do is to make sure all my carbs are high quality (sweet potatoes, etc) and try to lower the amount of carbs I eat, but not to primal levels. I already eat a lot of fruit and veggies, so that is good...

              I will check out the links as well from lets run...

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              • #8
                Definitely don't make any drastic changes until after your marathon. After that though, feel free to dive right into Primal eating. I was Primal for the year leading up to and including my first Ironman and it was great. I had much more energy, didn't bonk like I used to as I was burning fat more efficiently, had zero joint inflammation issues, and lost a bunch of weight which of course takes a lot of stress off your body while running.

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                • #9
                  Dont change your carb loading until after your marathon. I agree with trying to transition your carbs to better ones like sweet potatoes. I dont know that I would even try to lower your carbs that much, but you might want to play around with timing. i.e. if you eat carbs to fuel your runs and to recover for your runs, continue that practice but question whether you need carbs with your dinner (for example).

                  Personally, I would just try eliminating any junk carbs you have or ones eaten mindlessly. crackers, chips, etc.

                  Carbflu took even my slow fat burning pace down about 90s to 2min/mile for a time.

                  My guess if you have lack of energy after 9 or 10 miles is even if you consider your pace slow, it really isnt slow enough for you either in training or in racing.

                  Are the 2 marathons the only ones you are doing or does the marathon chain continue ? (I have several marathon maniac buddies so I may not see you as insane as others). If you are continuing the chain of long events then you may have to come up with a structured carb rampdown to be able to do both.
                  MTA: because it is rare I dont have more to say

                  "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - my daughter Age 7

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                  • #10
                    I just read Paleo Diet for Athletes and found it very helpful. I'm looking forward to implementing its advice on race day this month.
                    --Trish (Bork)
                    TROPICAL TRADITIONS REFERRAL # 7625207
                    http://pregnantdiabetic.blogspot.com
                    FOOD PORN BLOG! http://theprimaljunkfoodie.blogspot.com

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                    • #11
                      I'll have to buy that book too. I've heard a lot of good things about it.

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                      • #12
                        Which reminds me, my copy of the book was supposed to arrive today. Where is it?
                        MTA: because it is rare I dont have more to say

                        "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - my daughter Age 7

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                        • #13
                          I am a marathon maniac, but because of enegy issues, I am only doing these 2 marathons "back to back". I do run out of steam at about 9-10 miles, so I will slow down my training runs. I have suspected that I am doing them too fast - one of my running buddies wants to do all of her runs fast...she is getting away with it so far amd improving...since I am not improving, I can't really give her advice... : (
                          The past week of getting rid of most "junk" carbs seems to be working...I will find out this weekend when I do a long (12 mile) run.
                          Again, thanks for the advice.

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                          • #14
                            I went from being a 5:30 marathoner to being a 3:44 marathoner on long SLOW miles with key faster workouts. More miles, less speed. But when you do speedwork make it count.
                            MTA: because it is rare I dont have more to say

                            "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - my daughter Age 7

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                            • #15
                              When I run my next marathon, I'm going to carry a plastic bag full of guacamole in my biking shirt pocket.

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