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Help: Hack my marathon fueling!

by (50)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 7:48 PM
Created June 19, 2012 at 5:12 PM

All,

I am going to go for my first full marathon ever this weekend. Being a paleo for the last 2 years, I have been thinking of doing an experiment on myself during my run: I want to go marathon in a fasted state, hoping that I can tap into fat burning mode during the race. Help me hack this idea, please. Of course, by asking this question, I, or shall I say, we, have crossed the topic of 'chronic cardio' or 'running is not paleo' talks. I respect people from this camp, but I got a race I want to run now.

Now a little bit of my background: I have been paleo for 2 years and lost 35 lbs in the early months of it. Ketosis is not new for me. I sometimes IF randomly, 16/8. For my marathon training, I have been running regularly with long runs on the weekends up to 20 miles. My training is a bastard version of Hal Higdon's novice 2, some skipping short runs and focus on the long weekend runs. During those long runs, I fuel myself with non paleo stuff: Bagels/white bread toast before run, Cliff shots every 30-40 minutes, and Nuun electrolytes. Performance wise, I always feel miserable in the last 2-3 miles of these long runs, and took a day to recover. I don't know why why it didn't click at me during those run to fully harness the paleo force, but after reading Anthony's comment in [this thread][1], I decided to try run in fasted state. Because I am already in tapering mode on my training, I was able to run 3-4 times fasted up to 9 miles. I felt great on those runs, and recovered quickly.

Now, help me consider if this is a feasible idea. Right now I am planning to eat light paleo dinner the night before the race, skip breakfast and then run. I will start eating cliff bars at mile 6-9, only if I am hungry. For hydration, I'll carry my own electrolyte water and add extra water from the stations. Further ideas on mid race fueling is also appreciated.

Thanks!

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661
15226 · June 25, 2012 at 5:55 PM

nice! glad you felt good

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 25, 2012 at 4:44 PM

On race day, I had two eggs + some grass fed ground beef, just to fill the emptiness in the morning. No heaviness at all.

537001f30670e73eb0ac45779af649a5
733 · June 25, 2012 at 1:06 PM

no i don't eat on race day. your body will take care of itself if you are fat adapted. you won't be starved, trust me.

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 24, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Now the race is done, I can try out the fruit strategy. Wonder if Mrs. Helvetican and the kids allow me to be gone 4 hours every weekend again....:)

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 24, 2012 at 12:37 PM

I didn't carb load, stay on paleo, and even IF the day before.

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 24, 2012 at 12:36 PM

See my updates above

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 24, 2012 at 12:35 PM

but sure I don't feel good watching people that I passed at mile 6-15, came passing me again :). So I walked, just like during training, to hit >17. I tried to run again but couldn't until mile 25. After race, I think I recovered fast. Came home, lunch, nap, and be productive again with the kids. Now I am bugged even more to hack it: I'm trying to figure out how I can run beyond 17+ and keep running strong. I thought it's a matter of managing pace, but didn't work during training nor during race. Thank you all for your help!!

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 24, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Update: I ran on Saturday. I eat regular paleo before it, and did IF on Wednesday and Friday. I started the race day with scrambled eggs & beef cooked in coconut oil at 5. Race started at 8. First 2-3 miles was a little foggy but is usual in my training. Started to take nuun electrolytes and power gel at mile 6 (<1 hour). Mile 9 I took a cliff bar. Everything went great until mile 17-18, where my achilles and calf muscle started to stiff and gets painful. This was no surprise to me, as in training I always had to walk-run after mile 16,

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 20, 2012 at 6:27 PM

Anthony, I assume you eat too on race day. What do you eat before and during race? I can't imagine how starved I will be if I don't eat anything before or during race day...

537001f30670e73eb0ac45779af649a5
733 · June 20, 2012 at 5:00 PM

it said nothing about eating the day of the event

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661
15226 · June 20, 2012 at 12:04 AM

Anthony that's not true. Train low, race high is in fact a good idea. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3698159

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 19, 2012 at 9:33 PM

I kind of agree with Jeff & Ultrajen since scrambled eggs in ghee is my daily breakfast. Portion wise, I am not going to have a big one. I will start the day around 5:30, and my corral probably won't start until 8 or 8:30, so if I have b'fast early it shouldn't weigh that much.

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 19, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Thanks. I'll try to come back here to update you all, I'm sure there will be some lessons learned afterwards.

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 19, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Edit: Not exactly no pain, but bearable one. Another important thing: Finish without injury.

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 19, 2012 at 9:17 PM

No, my goal is to not get intimidated by the distance. So maybe if finish it without pain, not feeling miserable, and be running all the way, maybe I'll try further distance, or work on better PR. I went the same phase when I did my half last year, and now I can easily run halfs+ every weekend. Hopefully by next year, going 20+ will be natural

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5043 · June 19, 2012 at 9:17 PM

I don't agree. THat stuff is going to sit heavy and take a long time to digest during the run.

537001f30670e73eb0ac45779af649a5
733 · June 19, 2012 at 9:03 PM

also, ps if your body is digesting food it isn't fully fueling your muscles.

537001f30670e73eb0ac45779af649a5
733 · June 19, 2012 at 9:02 PM

this isnt goign to be your last marathon is it?

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 19, 2012 at 5:47 PM

I kind of regret going through 90% of my training carrying the carb load mindset.

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 19, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Good point. I am thinking scrambled eggs and ghee/coconut oil now. Me hungry now...

Bef4109763803bd98273d3ba506cd110
40 · June 19, 2012 at 5:31 PM

I wouldn't necessarily wait till I'm hungry -- REALLY hard to come back from hitting the wall. Take their orange slices and bananas if they have them, and if it were me, I'd at least get some sugar in my system every hour or so with some gels, blocks or nut butter.

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 19, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Hmm, the link didn't work. This the thread I am referring to: http://paleohacks.com/questions/126306/hack-my-running-fuel-needs/126325#126325

Bef4109763803bd98273d3ba506cd110
40 · June 19, 2012 at 5:29 PM

I agree! A protein shake or eggs would also be helpful to keep your energy levels up.

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 19, 2012 at 5:24 PM

More likely cruesing it. My half PR is 2:05, and I am projecting to finish full at 4:40. My goal is to finish in decent time, still on my feet :).

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6 Answers

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64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661
1
15226 · June 19, 2012 at 5:24 PM

I wouldn't skip breakfast. At the very least eat a big protein and fat (especially coconut oil) breakfast. More likely I'd go for that plus a couple of mashed sweet potatoes with a ton of butter.

If you're fat adapted you should have no problem transitioning back to fat after your meal glucose is burned.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661
15226 · June 25, 2012 at 5:55 PM

nice! glad you felt good

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 25, 2012 at 4:44 PM

On race day, I had two eggs + some grass fed ground beef, just to fill the emptiness in the morning. No heaviness at all.

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 19, 2012 at 9:33 PM

I kind of agree with Jeff & Ultrajen since scrambled eggs in ghee is my daily breakfast. Portion wise, I am not going to have a big one. I will start the day around 5:30, and my corral probably won't start until 8 or 8:30, so if I have b'fast early it shouldn't weigh that much.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab
5043 · June 19, 2012 at 9:17 PM

I don't agree. THat stuff is going to sit heavy and take a long time to digest during the run.

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 19, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Good point. I am thinking scrambled eggs and ghee/coconut oil now. Me hungry now...

Bef4109763803bd98273d3ba506cd110
40 · June 19, 2012 at 5:29 PM

I agree! A protein shake or eggs would also be helpful to keep your energy levels up.

best answer

537001f30670e73eb0ac45779af649a5
1
733 · June 19, 2012 at 5:26 PM

go in fasted and use the 10s of 1000s of calories you have stored up in your fat stores. carbo loading is CW hogwash.

537001f30670e73eb0ac45779af649a5
733 · June 25, 2012 at 1:06 PM

no i don't eat on race day. your body will take care of itself if you are fat adapted. you won't be starved, trust me.

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 24, 2012 at 12:37 PM

I didn't carb load, stay on paleo, and even IF the day before.

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 20, 2012 at 6:27 PM

Anthony, I assume you eat too on race day. What do you eat before and during race? I can't imagine how starved I will be if I don't eat anything before or during race day...

537001f30670e73eb0ac45779af649a5
733 · June 20, 2012 at 5:00 PM

it said nothing about eating the day of the event

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661
15226 · June 20, 2012 at 12:04 AM

Anthony that's not true. Train low, race high is in fact a good idea. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3698159

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 19, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Edit: Not exactly no pain, but bearable one. Another important thing: Finish without injury.

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 19, 2012 at 9:17 PM

No, my goal is to not get intimidated by the distance. So maybe if finish it without pain, not feeling miserable, and be running all the way, maybe I'll try further distance, or work on better PR. I went the same phase when I did my half last year, and now I can easily run halfs+ every weekend. Hopefully by next year, going 20+ will be natural

537001f30670e73eb0ac45779af649a5
733 · June 19, 2012 at 9:03 PM

also, ps if your body is digesting food it isn't fully fueling your muscles.

537001f30670e73eb0ac45779af649a5
733 · June 19, 2012 at 9:02 PM

this isnt goign to be your last marathon is it?

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 19, 2012 at 5:47 PM

I kind of regret going through 90% of my training carrying the carb load mindset.

Bef4109763803bd98273d3ba506cd110
1
40 · June 19, 2012 at 5:21 PM

I run ultras and I've made it about 14 hours with Paleo-mostly fueling. I use fruit primarily, which isn't all that useful for you in a marathon setting since that's hard to carry. I would suggest getting some of the Honey Stinger gels (the blocks in Orange Blossom flavor are very awesome and all their gels are gluten-free!) for your primary fueling and some almond butter packets if you can find them. You don't have a lot of time to gather up your food and test your fueling strategy though.

Are you going for an all-out effort or just cruise it?

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 24, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Now the race is done, I can try out the fruit strategy. Wonder if Mrs. Helvetican and the kids allow me to be gone 4 hours every weekend again....:)

Bef4109763803bd98273d3ba506cd110
40 · June 19, 2012 at 5:31 PM

I wouldn't necessarily wait till I'm hungry -- REALLY hard to come back from hitting the wall. Take their orange slices and bananas if they have them, and if it were me, I'd at least get some sugar in my system every hour or so with some gels, blocks or nut butter.

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 19, 2012 at 5:24 PM

More likely cruesing it. My half PR is 2:05, and I am projecting to finish full at 4:40. My goal is to finish in decent time, still on my feet :).

62dea23f4ad237b09beb1fa564f2fd93
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0 · June 03, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Even if you are fat adapted, you still need to consume about 60g per hour of glucose to help aid fat burning. this is necessary. That is why u suffer cramps. Not like a huge gel, just a handful of berries are a couple of dates. Also, if you are fat adapted, you must drink much less water. Lots of water is needed by carb users as glucose needs to bind to h2. Fat adapted drinking too much water will dilute your electrolytes in your body and you may end up with cramps too. But most important is that you should be running regular long distances over a period of 6 months for your body to be strong and have less of these problems. A good tip is that if you are training for a 42km race. Double up your training to meet that distance by running 20km the Saturday and then 20km the Sunday. Once your body is in that tired state it will repair stronger. After than you can start testing glucose and water consumption on your LCHF diet as you know your body can handle the distance.

E753cf7753e7be889ca68b1a4203483f
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722 · June 19, 2012 at 8:48 PM

Since you have not made long runs without prior carbs, I don't recommend doing for your longest run yet. Suggest you eat lot of starches and fruit the last 2 days. Pre run meal could be anything, just not to much. Drink water at energy drink during the race (or eat banana with water). Good luck!

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d
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11478 · June 19, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Don't do it man. You've left it too late.

You can run in "fat burning mode" by simply running at a very low intensity.

If you want to become "fat adapted" then you need to be in ketosis for at least 3-4 weeks (according to Volek and Phinney). During the fat-adaption period you'll suck big time. I'm only a 10k runner, but I suffered during the keto-adaption phase, although not as bad as Peter Attia: http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/blog/the-llvlc-show-episode-560-dr-peter-attia-has-declared-war-on-insulin/13717

I don't think you should be trying novel new fuelling strategies during a marathon (that's what your long runs are for).

Good luck, and make sure you let us know how you got on.

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 24, 2012 at 12:36 PM

See my updates above

Bfab735156addf003de83d407bae3f78
50 · June 19, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Thanks. I'll try to come back here to update you all, I'm sure there will be some lessons learned afterwards.

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