Not really sure how it’s been more than a month since I last posted, but here we are! This summer (which is now almost over??) has been pretty busy with work and life things, but mostly good so I’m not complaining.
Running is going well but with a small “hiccup” of some IT band pain I’m trying to manage. Well, Dr. Levine is managing, I’m just submitting my left leg to his torture devices. Usually if I have IT band trouble – hasn’t happened in a few years so I guess I was due – I can’t run at all. This time, it feels ok to run but not normal, if that makes any sense. So, I’m still running but with a bit more caution, somewhat lower mileage and not so much speed work for right now. You know what they say about the best laid plans…
Anyways, I thought I’d share something stupid I did last weekend running and nutrition-wise, because why not? Even though I know better, I still make questionable decisions sometimes.
like starting to drink caffeine again?
So, I had signed up for a 10 mile race with Betsy but decided not to run it because even the thought of racing for more than an hour on a hilly course made my IT band hurt. Instead, I decided to “just run” nice and easy without a plan. Since the band felt ok on easy runs, I did want to get in a longer effort but wasn’t sure how long. Sometimes long run prep stresses me out, so I really didn’t want to deal with it and brought NOTHING with me. “Just running” sounded so freeing, you know? Plus I know where all the water fountains are in Central Park (including the only cold one – across the road from Tavern on the Green, holla!) and the West Side Highway, so it would be fine. The IT band loosened up after a few miles and I felt good, so decided to do my typical long run route along the WSH and see what happened. I stopped at water fountains a few times but had no nutrition – no gels, Gus, whatever – which didn’t really bother me during the run. I felt fine! And got in a good long run, woohoo!
But then I got home, stretched, took a shower and finally ate something. For the rest of the day, I alternated between being too tired to eat and too hungry to sleep, and it was a chore to go outside to the drugstore. What I had done here is completely deplete my body of its glycogen stores by not fueling during the run, and dehydrated myself on top of that. It takes about 2-3 hours (give or take) for our bodies to use up all available glycogen stores, and since I run first thing in the morning didn’t really have much else to start with (1/2 banana, maybe). Needless to say, my tank was empty when I got home and my entire body was super pissed – this felt something like a hangover but maybe worse. So this is what it feels like after those “depletion” runs some people do, I thought to myself. Maybe you know what I’m talking about – purposefully abstaining from fuel on a long run to train your body to be more efficient with burning fat and prolong the complete depletion of glycogen stores, all in an effort to feel stronger for longer and avoid the “bonk.”
Depletion runs have been shown to be beneficial in the long run (ha!) for some pro athletes and by becoming more efficient fat burners, help them shave off precious seconds or maybe minutes. But! The act of training for something like a marathon and consistently running longer distances itself makes us more efficient fat burners, even if we fuel during our long runs. Maybe we can speed up these adaptations by doing depletion runs, but with the consequences of feeling like ass for the rest of the day. For me, a maybe front-of-the-middle-of-the-packer who will never win a race, this isn’t really worth it. You’re putting your body through a lot when this happens, and the benefits do not really outweigh the risks. I would rather fuel properly and be a functional person on a beautiful weekend day. To each his own, though, because I also wouldn’t blame a pro runner or triathlete for purposefully making these types of runs part of their training. After all, minutes and seconds can mean a whole lot more when running is putting food on the table.
And with that, I will leave you with a delicious recipe I got (and adapted slightly) from a recent issue of Runner’s World that is perfect pre or post-run fuel.
Whole Wheat Pasta with Basil, Tomatoes, Tofu, Veggies and Avocado Sauce (adapted slightly from this recipe to add more protein and veggies)
12 ounces whole-wheat fusilli
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup broccoli florets
2 cups kale, chopped
1 1/2 cups firm tofu, cubed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 avocados, halved and pitted
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for about five minutes (before tender) and add in broccoli and kale. Continue cooking until pasta and greens are tender. Remove from heat and reserve 1 cup cooking water. Drain pasta and veggies, cover, and set aside. In a bowl, add tomatoes and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add oil and basil. Toss to coat. Set aside. Scoop avocado into empty pasta pot. Mash with a potato masher. Add garlic and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Whisk pasta water in, creating a light sauce. Stir in pasta and tomato mixture to coat.