A Milestone and a Fresh Start

I logged my 5,000th mile last week and I kept meaning to write a post about it, but the truth was, I just wasn’t that excited.  I’ve been kind of stuck in a rut lately and generally bored.  Having fought my way back after the IT band injury, I now find myself in the realm of no-longer-injured, but still nowhere near serious race-shape.  I’ve ramped up my weekly mileage a bit and started doing intervals and tempo runs again this past month, and on one level, that feels great.  The difficulty has been that I’m still dealing with a lot of soreness in my hips on top of the normal aches and pains that come with increasing mileage and speedwork.  Rather than feeling like a runner who is actively recovering from an injury, I now just feel like a mediocre runner.

I think I could probably deal with that better if I weren’t always tired and hungry. I’ve been mostly focused on slow runs and strength training for past few months, and to be sure, there have been a lot of benefits to my running as a result.  I’ve put on more muscle, gotten stronger, and I even seem to have improved my hill-running without actually having to run any.  I increased my protein intake by about 20% in that time, and since definitely want to continue the strength training, I will probably need to maintain something near that level.  I’m finding that the added speedwork demands more carbs, however, and I haven’t seemed to be able to hit a balance that’s working yet.  I’ve been thinking that given the muscle I’ve added, dropping a few pounds might help my speed going into race season.  I’ve been trying cutting protein and/or fat, and pretty much the only result has been general crankiness.

After some lack-luster experimentation over the past few weeks, I finally consulted my Paleo Guru friend this weekend.  He sensibly pointed out that the balance I’ve been eating seems to be generally working and, more importantly, is supporting my muscle recovery.  Getting leaner won’t necessarily result in getting faster, and may well just result in me being more tired.  In general, I tend to wake up starving, eat a sizable breakfast, and still not really feel properly full until after lunch.  I usually have a small snack before I run after work, and then eat a dinner to fill whatever nutritional holes I still have left at that point.  The Guru suggested focusing more on refueling from the workout I’d just finished rather than trying to front-load for the day ahead.  If I eat a bigger dinner I should be able to recover more efficiently and also won’t wake up so hungry (which would definitely improve my workday).  He also suggested switching my usual morning smoothie to directly after my workouts, which should replenish my glycogen stores much effectively without adding more carbs overall.  It totally makes sense and I’m looking forward to giving it a try over the next month or so.

I have McConnell’s 10K coming up in a few weeks, which I’m hoping will be a low-pressure event to test out my training and how my hip is responding.  If all goes well, I’d really like to find a half marathon to do this fall.  I have a feeling that getting my nutrition game plan sorted out may go a long way to improving my running overall, and I’m actually kind of excited.

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