Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I'm Back!

Thanks to David for slagging me off and getting me back posting again.  I'll try to post more regularly from now on.

A lot seems to have gone on in the past 5 months since my last post, which I ended with: "I'm only 39.  I feel 79.  Should I really feel this lousy, tired, and broken down???"

1.  I'm feeling healthy again.
2.  I'm back training again.

OK, well, only two things - but they are big things - and do seem like a lot when I break them down.

As recently as March, I felt like total garbage when I attempted any running, and really, just lousy in general.  I chalk a lot of it up to just being out of fitness (really high heart rate, legs like lead, no energy) but it was more than that.  I had some back issues, which I got through with the help of my chiropractor.  That was mostly my SI Joint which now seems golden.  Glad that's behind me.

And then there were my stomach issues; stabbing pain and nausea.  I had the symptoms pretty much all the time (it would even wake me up at night), but were much more severe when running.  I thought it was due to the large quantity of Vitamin D supplements (upped to 5000 units daily) my endocrinologist had ordered me to take to see if I could reverse the osteopenia I have in my hip.  Or, maybe it at least contributed?  I would test stopping the supplements and I would fell better - for a while.  I tested that off and on until finally I went to a gastroenterology doc and they poked and prodded - had an upper endoscopy; had an ultrasound; tried some meds; had a ton of blood tests to check vitamin levels; check for celiac; and so on, and so forth...  They found a small hiatal hernia but that was it.  Everything else was 'normal'.

And there was the fatigue thing too, which is what got me going to an endocrinologist to begin with.

So, maybe it was my diet?  Maybe it was the food I was eating?  I'd been doing a fair amount of reading things like; Wheat Belly, Paleo for Athletes, Blood Type Diet, scouring the Internet, etc..  Since I started my 'get fit' routine, I've pretty drastically changed my diet, but maybe it was time to take it to a new level. I had tried going red meat-less for a while and attempted the vegetarian/vegan athlete approach (thanks to reading Scott Jurek, Brendan Brazier, and Matt Frazier), which I'm not convinced was beneficial to me, and maybe even had a negative effect.  So, I put together a grocery list for myself based on the Blood Type Diet (I'm Type-O), and Paleo for Athletes.  It's mostly lean red meat, fish, chicken, fresh fruit and vegetables (but only certain ones). Gone is wheat, and even gluten-free foods.  Gone is rice and potato's.  Gone is pretty much anything processed.  Gone is dairy.  Gone is Green Tea even (my own choice).  I'll share my list in a separate post, but it's categorized as; 'Best things to eat', 'Good things to eat', 'Neutral things to eat', and 'Fueling and Recovery only'.  If it's not on the list, I don't eat it (or try not to).  Of course, anyone who knows me, knows I struggle with food and eating.  During the week I have an OK time of it - weekends, well, weekends can be carnage, but I try my best to stick to it.

Around this time, my chiropractor also got me onto some vitamin supplements, which I've always been pretty much against.  I personally don't believe that they do a lick of good.  The only thing I've ever noticed them really helping was my fingernail strength - and my fingernails had gotten pretty weak.  So, I figured I'd give his fancy stuff, by Douglas Laboratories, a shot for a month and see what happens.  Well, that has kind of stuck.

The first week of April, the family and I headed to SoCal for a little vacation and to visit some family.  I was a little anxious knowing that I went into the vacation sticking pretty good to my new, and I hate the term, diet (it's a lifestyle change, right?), but that there would be too many temptations to get through it unscathed.  In-N-Out Burger, restaurants, etc..  With some careful planning I could minimize the damage - but there would be damage.  It was a huge help that where we stayed with family we had our own kitchen.  That allowed us to cook and eat healthy at least half of the time.

Before going on vacation, I had struggled through March with 50 total miles run (in 9 sessions), after a February with only 3 miles.  Going into our vacation, I wanted to try to keep what tiny momentum I had going.  I thought that sea-level training might be helpful too.  I got in only two runs (11 miles total), one long walk with my cousin, and one good hike in the mountains - then six straight days of vacation mode; lots of eating and not exercising.

I came back from vacation about 8 lbs heavier than when we set out.  It could have been worse I suppose. Knowing that I needed to get back at it - I did just that.  We got home on Saturday, had a day of rest on Sunday, and then I hit it on Monday.  Everything felt awful, and even the stomach issues seemed to be back (reinforcing diet as the cause?), until the end of the week when things started feeling better.  I finished that week with 40 miles.  Things were looking up.  Since that first 40 mile week I've finished with a 42 mile week, another 40 mile week and last week I hit 53 miles.  April included 2 half marathon distances, a 15 mile and an 18 mile effort.  The big thing is, is that I feel so much better.  Stomach issues seem to be gone, my energy levels are really good, and I'm feeling pretty strong most days.  So, what changed?  Why, or how, did I go from feeling like total garbage both running and just in general, to be on pace for a 66 mile week this week?  I really wish there was a smoking gun, but I suspect it's probably a combination of a few things;

1. Fitness level - I'm training more, so obviously my fitness and general well-being should be improving.

2. Diet - The Blood Type / Paleo for Athletes lifestyle seems to be working.  I'm leaner and have more energy.  I can really tell a difference when I eat things I shouldn't be - especially wheat.

3. Supplements - Vitamin D, Multi-Vitamins, and Calcium/Magnesium and timing those post training.

4. Recovery - Natural food (beef and my own smoothie concoction) for recovery. Way less reliance on Hammer, GU, etc..

5. Fueling - More glycogen debt training, and more natural fuels (raisins, etc.) and less Hammer, GU, etc..

6. Footwear - I'm running in New Balance MT110's now.  Still minimalist (4mm drop), but my feet are loving me for it.

7.  Weight - It bounces around (usually up after a weekend of carnage eating) but I've been hitting high-school lows recently, and it's trending down.  I do notice I am getting much leaner.

8. Rest - I've always need lots of sleep, but I try really hard to be in bed before 10pm.

Some, or all of those things may be a factor, so, I'll try to keep doing what I'm doing.

So, where to from here?  Onward and upward I hope.  Like I said, this week I'm gunning for a 66 mile week with a 26.2 long run to end the week.  Depending on how that goes, next week, I may push for 70.  Of course, things seldom go as planned.

I've signed up for the North Fork 50 Mile Trail Race that takes place on June 30th.  That gives me a little more than 7 weeks still to train.  We've got a road-trip to Michigan to see family in early June, and family coming to visit for a few weeks in late June, plus a few other of life's little nuggets strewn about in there too.  In the meantime, I'm going to remain cautiously optimistic, and bank as many miles as possible.