Thursday, June 5, 2014

Training Experiment #1

This post is probably going to be pretty boring to 99.9% of you. I'm writing it because it's important; not because it's juicy.

Until very recently, women were given the same guidelines as men in regards to supplementation during exercise. In fact, still, there is very little out there.

First, let me explain how I got where I am.

Last Nov, I ran a half marathon. I went into the half expecting a big PR. I did not get a big PR. I got a 2 minute PR. To say I was disappointed, doesn't even cover how I felt. At my running paces, I should have had a big PR. People who are a lot older than me, people who are much heavier than me, people who have been doing this longer than me.....they were running faster than me.

The good news is that the experience set me on a quest to find out what was going on.

I knew that the way I felt when I was running, wasn't right.

Was it a calorie issue? Was it a carbohydrate issue?

NO. I increased calories and carbohydrates. The end result was a 10lb weight gain that I'm mostly still hanging on to.

It was making me crazy. I started researching.

GUYS: This part will be really boring to you since it's focused on women. HOWEVER Part 2 might be of greater interest to you.

Fortunately, Dr. Stacy Sims had very recently published research findings specific for women. (FUCKING NOVEL IDEA if you ask me).

In a quick recap, this is what she found. (If you are interested in her entire presentation, comment below or email me. I have a copy and will send it to you).

Here are the key points:

  • Women's bodies act completely differently in days 1-12 of our cycles versus in days 16-28. The hormonal changes have a HUGE impact on our ability to handle heat, process fat for fuel, etc.
  • In days 1-12, women actually process fat for fuel better than men do. We also need to take in fewer calories during endurance events. 
  • In days 16-28, women's blood plasma drops and our sodium levels are slightly above hyponatremia on a daily basis. This means we have to supplement our sodium intake significantly.
    • During this time, we do not process proteins as well. It is recommend that we take in protein prior to endurance exercise.
    • We do not utilize fat for fuel as well and need to take in more calories during endurance events.
  • Finally, where men get a fat burn of almost 24 hours post exercise. Women get 2 hours. That's it.
There are more points to her presentation, but that's all I am going into at this point.

Reading this research was eye opening. It completely explained the problems that I had been having in races. Last year, every damn race was at day 21. There I was trying to do races of over 2 hours long in the heat, starting in a state of damn near hyponatremia.

I started testing the research on myself (this year). What I've found is that I need quite a ridiculous amount of sodium even in days 1-12, but in days 16-28, I need anywhere from 750-1100mg per hour, depending on the situation. 

What was the result? I'm no longer running out of energy. In fact, changing my fueling strategy along with some specially structured training, I am able to go hard when I need to go hard (primarily at the end of a race or at the end of a long training session).

I've never been able to do that before. I'd be completely zapped and would trudge along.

I used to think, "What is wrong with me?"

No wonder, I was struggling so much.

But there's more.......coming up next, something that the guys might find interesting.