Eat More Carbohydrates !!!

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Eat More Carbohydrates !!!

Post by Tinman » Sun Sep 14, 2014 3:39 pm

During the last month a particular topic has come up a few times. Winners tell me, my breathing is fine but my legs could not go any faster during the race. Or, they said the same thing about a workout. Their legs felt dead!"

So what is the answer? Are they unfit? Are they not good enough mileage? Are they not do enough strength training your speed work? The answers to those questions do not matter my friends! It's really a simple solution! Eat more carbohydrates!!!

Runners who are seriously trying to improve performance tend to watch their caloric intake very carefully. That's fine except for the fact that it means they really can't run fast until the shore up their glycogen deficit. I am not saying you should ignore your intake of calories, but I am saying that when you have an important race coming up you need to carb up!
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Re: Eat More Carbohydrates !!!

Post by dilluh » Sun Sep 14, 2014 4:19 pm

I agree. I often need to force myself to eat extra carbs the day(s) before a long run/workout or else suffer the consequences. For lower activity or sedentary individuals, yes, I think a lower carb diet that places more emphasis on quality protein to help with satiation makes sense but active runners absolutely need the added fuel.

My trail running friends tell me that there is a "high fat / low carb" fad that is gaining a toe-hold amongst some ultra runner communities. I'm sure it might make sense for a very small portion of people but on average, that calorie profile just doesn't make sense when you have the ability to eat sugars/carbs at will during the entire race. Moderate protein + easily accessible carbs would seem to make more sense for a long race in which you can fuel any time you want.

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Re: Eat More Carbohydrates !!!

Post by Schebo » Mon Sep 15, 2014 1:22 am

I know quite a few ultra runners who have started a LCHF diet and they behave almost like a religious sect. You can´t even discuss the subject with them without they becoming almost aggressive. They have this us vs. them mentality. They have seen the light while the others are being fooled by the sugar lobby.

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Re: Eat More Carbohydrates !!!

Post by Tinman » Mon Sep 15, 2014 1:41 am

When I coached Dr. Mark Werner, who was the top runner from the U.S.A. at the World Ultra-marathon Championships in Italy, we never once talked about eating high fat, low carb diets, which is all the rage now. Actually, we talked about high carb consumption practices to ensure being able to run fast, far, and it worked! He didn't bonk, either!!! He learned to eat on the run, just what his body could digest, and he learned to pay close attention to his fluid and electrolyte needs.

Honestly, I just can't see the value in cutting out carbs to a large extent, unless a runner prefers to be slow and feel tired/ lethargic.

Note, Mark Werner who trained exclusively using 2 Big Workouts per week, my standard practice method for long distance runners, was very lean - about 5-6% body fat, I estimate. Eating carbs didn't make him fat!
Last edited by Tinman on Mon Sep 15, 2014 1:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Eat More Carbohydrates !!!

Post by dkggpeters » Mon Sep 15, 2014 8:53 am

I laugh when I hear people argue the high fat low carb diet and how it will make you really efficient in fuel utilization in the marathon.  I even had a 5:30 marathoner try to tell me how superior the method is.

My argument is simple.  Your body is much more efficient burning carbs vs fat for energy.  I want to be efficient burning carbs at race pace and I will take in calories during the marathon (gatorade and gels) to help sustain me to or very near the end of the race.  Why would I want to rely on using an fuel source that is not as efficient if I don't have to?

For for fueling up during training, I make sure that I east plenty of food the day before a big workout or long run.  On this training cycle I am less concerned about weight (my weight is down regardless) and have been making sure that I am getting plenty of calories on a daily basis.  I have been making smoothies which are very high in carbs and protein (I put protein powder in there) as well as making sure I get a recovery drink (I use Endurox R4) immediately after my big workouts and long runs.  I notice my recovery is better and even more importantly, I don't feel beat up as it appears that it is playing a big role in allowing much better recovery.
Last edited by dkggpeters on Mon Sep 15, 2014 8:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Eat More Carbohydrates !!!

Post by dkggpeters » Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:05 am

[quote="Schebo"]
I know quite a few ultra runners who have started a LCHF diet and they behave almost like a religious sect. You can´t even discuss the subject with them without they becoming almost aggressive. They have this us vs. them mentality. They have seen the light while the others are being fooled by the sugar lobby.
[/quote]

Kind of like Crossfit.  One thing I have learned is not to take such a hard stance on a method and be willing to accept other methods.

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Re: Eat More Carbohydrates !!!

Post by run2thehills » Mon Sep 15, 2014 2:19 pm

I guess I was one of the culprits that triggered Tinman's OP...I have had days in the last few weeks where I had "dead legs" and I couldn't run at my normal easy pace, correlated with a very low HR. Tinman correctly diagnosed this as glycogen depletion and it went away after just a day of carb rich food. For me it is really hard to strike the right balance between getting enough fuel but not overindulging. I am 5'5" and it is really easy to gain weight if I don't watch what I eat.

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Re: Eat More Carbohydrates !!!

Post by Gabe1 » Mon Sep 15, 2014 3:31 pm

[quote="run2thehills"]
I guess I was one of the culprits that triggered Tinman's OP...I have had days in the last few weeks where I had "dead legs" and I couldn't run at my normal easy pace, correlated with a very low HR. Tinman correctly diagnosed this as glycogen depletion and it went away after just a day of carb rich food. For me it is really hard to strike the right balance between getting enough fuel but not overindulging. I am 5'5" and it is really easy to gain weight if I don't watch what I eat.
[/quote]

Hehe, yes I was another one. I had a strange half marathon experience this week end were I couldn't get my legs to move much faster than marathon pace. Breathing was very relaxed and every time I tried to push the pace it felt uncomfortable and unsustainable. So the only thing I could do was too keep running relaxed. I still PR:d with 45 seconds, but I had hoped for much more.

All my training is aimed towards a marathon in late October and I am trying to loose a little bit of weight. I still focus mostly on carbs, but I guess over all the caloric intake has been far too low to keep the glykogen storage full. I ate a big meal the day before the race, but as Tinman says, you need to start 3-4 days before.

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Re: Eat More Carbohydrates !!!

Post by dkggpeters » Mon Sep 15, 2014 3:40 pm

[quote="run2thehills"]
I guess I was one of the culprits that triggered Tinman's OP...I have had days in the last few weeks where I had "dead legs" and I couldn't run at my normal easy pace, correlated with a very low HR. Tinman correctly diagnosed this as glycogen depletion and it went away after just a day of carb rich food. For me it is really hard to strike the right balance between getting enough fuel but not overindulging. I am 5'5" and it is really easy to gain weight if I don't watch what I eat.
[/quote]

I gain weight easily if I am not careful.  After a marathon, I can easily put on 10 or 15 lbs and then have to work on taking it off.  This cycle I just let the mileage and intensity take the weight off and I wasn't anal like I have been in the past.  Sometimes you can still eat a little bit more and still lose weight.  Just make sure you closely watch your weight and you may want to consider tracking your food consumption.  It is kind of a pain in the ass at the beginning but once you get meals and favorites setup then it is really easy with a lot of apps.  I do this periodically to keep me honest and to also assess the breakdown of my calories (Carbs, protein, fat).

One thing to consider that I found really helps me is to make sure you get in plenty of carbs and some protein immediately after a hard session or long run.  I use Endurox R4 mainly because it is portable and I can mix and leave in the trunk on a hot day and not be worried about spoilage.  Chocolate milk works great as well.  I have noticed a huge improvement in my recovery times after I started doing this a couple of years ago.

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Re: Eat More Carbohydrates !!!

Post by dilluh » Mon Sep 15, 2014 3:45 pm

[quote="run2thehills"]
I guess I was one of the culprits that triggered Tinman's OP...I have had days in the last few weeks where I had "dead legs" and I couldn't run at my normal easy pace, correlated with a very low HR. Tinman correctly diagnosed this as glycogen depletion and it went away after just a day of carb rich food. For me it is really hard to strike the right balance between getting enough fuel but not overindulging. I am 5'5" and it is really easy to gain weight if I don't watch what I eat.
[/quote]

Yet another reason for those who train by heart rate to be careful about the numbers they see versus their perception. I've heard that low heart rate after a workout day is quite common when one is glycogen depleted. If someone is very reliant on the HR number, they will over train on their recovery days because of this, i.e., number is below their normal EZ day heart rate zone so they speed up a bit.

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Re: Eat More Carbohydrates !!!

Post by run2thehills » Mon Sep 15, 2014 4:41 pm

[quote="dilluh"]
[quote="run2thehills"]
I guess I was one of the culprits that triggered Tinman's OP...I have had days in the last few weeks where I had "dead legs" and I couldn't run at my normal easy pace, correlated with a very low HR. Tinman correctly diagnosed this as glycogen depletion and it went away after just a day of carb rich food. For me it is really hard to strike the right balance between getting enough fuel but not overindulging. I am 5'5" and it is really easy to gain weight if I don't watch what I eat.
[/quote]

Yet another reason for those who train by heart rate to be careful about the numbers they see versus their perception. I've heard that low heart rate after a workout day is quite common when one is glycogen depleted. If someone is very reliant on the HR number, they will over train on their recovery days because of this, i.e., number is below their normal EZ day heart rate zone so they speed up a bit.
[/quote]
As a disclaimer I run mostly by feel but I like to record HR data for information. So I don't use the HR to dictate the pace, just see what HR I get for a given pace/effort.

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Re: Eat More Carbohydrates !!!

Post by Tinman » Mon Sep 15, 2014 4:43 pm

To correct the problem of knowing what heart rate to use in training, go back to my golden principle: Use a race reference time that you can achieve today, only!

Joe may have run 17:00 in a 5k race last weekend, but today, following a hard fartlek workout, he may be only capable of running 17:35, which is the time he needs to use for setting up training paces for today. I go back to my rule of thumb: Add 3 seconds per quarter mile/400m or 12 seconds per mile/1600m for training days. That is a good starting point for setting up training. If you are fresh and you start out at the + 12 seconds per mile rule, you might feel easy the first rep or two of your workout, or the first mile or two of your tempo run, then you can pick up the pace and lock into the right effort. 

On another day, say and easy / recovery run day, starting with the + 12 second per mile rule of thumb for your reference race time works out well too. At the very least, you feel like the pace is just right, and you don't speed up. At the worst, you feel a little bit tired, so you slow down even more from your + 12 per mile reference point. Note, the first 5 minutes of every run should be slow anyway, and there's no need to time that portion of your run. You are trying to get get warmed up, not trying to go after a target pace yet.
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Re: Eat More Carbohydrates !!!

Post by run2thehills » Mon Sep 15, 2014 4:53 pm

[quote="dkggpeters"]
[quote="run2thehills"]
I guess I was one of the culprits that triggered Tinman's OP...I have had days in the last few weeks where I had "dead legs" and I couldn't run at my normal easy pace, correlated with a very low HR. Tinman correctly diagnosed this as glycogen depletion and it went away after just a day of carb rich food. For me it is really hard to strike the right balance between getting enough fuel but not overindulging. I am 5'5" and it is really easy to gain weight if I don't watch what I eat.
[/quote]

One thing to consider that I found really helps me is to make sure you get in plenty of carbs and some protein immediately after a hard session or long run.  I use Endurox R4 mainly because it is portable and I can mix and leave in the trunk on a hot day and not be worried about spoilage.  Chocolate milk works great as well.  I have noticed a huge improvement in my recovery times after I started doing this a couple of years ago.
[/quote]

I actually restarted using Endurox R4 regularly after stopping for about 2 years - coincidentally I haven't had any great marathon cycle during these last two years...
As for chocolate milk I don't digest milk well so that's not an option for me. As a substitute for Endurox I often put a lot of fruit and hemp protein in a mixer and make a recovery shake which is easier to swallow than the solid food equivalent.

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Re: Eat More Carbohydrates !!!

Post by run2thehills » Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:10 pm

[quote="Tinman"]
To correct the problem of knowing what heart rate to use in training, go back to my golden principle: Use a race reference time that you can achieve today, only! ......I go back to my rule of thumb: Add 3 seconds per quarter mile/400m or 12 seconds per mile/1600m for training days. That is a good starting point for setting up training. If you are fresh and you start out at the + 12 seconds per mile rule, you might feel easy the first rep or two of your workout, or the first mile or two of your tempo run, then you can pick up the pace and lock into the right effort. 

[/quote]

Can you clarify this? You mean that regardless of the speed/type of workout you're targeting, add 12s/mile?
For instance say I have 5x2min reps at 5K pace and my recent 5K was run at 6min/mi I should use 6:12? Would that be the same for MP runs where I would add 12s to recent MP? It seems odd to use 12s regardless of the speed or type of workout since these 12s would correspond to a bigger % differential for faster paces compared to slower ones. Maybe I am not getting this right...

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Re: Eat More Carbohydrates !!!

Post by dilluh » Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:26 pm

I think the point may be to err on the side of starting off "slow" to let your body warm into what you are doing. If you're locked in and ready to rock, then that first slower rep (6s, 10s, 12s, 15s, whatever) will feel easy and you can proceed to the target pace for the remaining reps. If not, stick with the slower reps and/or cut down on the number of reps. Running the first or first two reps of a 5x1000 CV track workout at slightly slower pace and then getting it up to target is essentially going to give you the same benefit as hitting every rep at the target pace. The difference being that the former approach safely ensures an "out" in case things aren't feeling quite right and won't put you in a position to overextend.

This is basically taking the idea of a progression run and adapting it to your workouts. In the spirit of 'keeping the ball rolling,' I can't think of a safer way to approach every run you do, track work included. One could even make an argument that track work is the most vital place to be installing this kind of philosophy.

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