Sunday, November 25, 2012

Training Adaptations

I have been emphasizing my nutritional changes throughout my nutrition experiment (with good reason) but I have had many comments and questions pertaining to my training and the adaptations taking place.  Since I am fresh off my long run, I thought I would review what has been happening in the last four weeks in terms of my training.

First off, I have been sick for the last 10 days (which led to laryngitis for 4 days).  I am just getting over this now and combined with my crazy travel schedule as of late, I admit that finding the time to run, swim and strength training (I'm not cycling too much) has been challenging.  The illness put a damper on my long runs but my basic goal the past five weeks was to try to hit the pool 2-3 times per week and run 3-4 times per week, even if the runs were short on a hotel treadmill.  Doing an ultra is all about time on feet and I'm not new to this type of training regimen.  Any opportunity I have to walk around or be on my feet has been beneficial.  Thus, all of my presentations and walking endless miles through airports and parking lots have actually been a blessing in disguise!

Let me get to my long runs and provide you the progression that has happened in the last five weeks:

  • Week of October 15: long run of 18 miles, felt great, average pace of 8:27 min/mile, 751 vertical feet gained; weekly TSS of 268 (a measure of training stress score that I monitor in Training Peaks)

  • Week of October 22: long run of 14 miles, felt great, average pace of 8:15 min/mile, 794 vertical feet gained; weekly TSS of 287

  • Week of October 29: Metabolic efficiency testing week; long run consisted of 7 miles during my test; weekly TSS of 108

  • Week of November 5: long run split due to time, treadmill runs of 2x8 miles separated by 4 hours, average pace of each 7:38 min/mile; weekly TSS of 87

  • Week of November 12: long run of 13 miles, felt great, average pace of 8:15 min/mile, 741 vertical feet gained; weekly TSS of 136

  • Week of November 19: long run of 22 miles, felt great, no calories on this run and only 20 ounces of water that took just over 3 hours, average pace of 8:15 min/mile, 1470 vertical feet gained; weekly TSS of 306

It appears that my physical training adaptations are progressing, even in spite of not putting in many miles (or as many as I should with the ultra 7 weeks away!).  This further supports the fact that exercise, while a very important part of the metabolic efficiency improvement equation, only accounts for up to 25%.  The most robust changes come from altering the nutrition.

This high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate nutrition plan has been nothing short of spectacular for my body and I hope you can see by the distances, vertical feet gained and paces, that my body is adapting from the physical side as well.

Just a small tidbit (because I know I will get asked) about today's 22 mile run:

  • 7:30: breakfast of 3 eggs fried in coconut oil, 4 sausage links, 16 ounces of smoothie (pineapple, banana, coconut, coconut milk, half and half, olive oil, chia seed gel, whey protein powder, ice); roughly 35 grams of carbohydrate

  • 9:45: pre-run snack of 1 tbsp natural peanut butter with 1 tbsp homemade chocolate coconut butter; roughly 8 grams of carbohydrate

  • Long run: 20 ounces of water, no calories, energy level was fine

  • Post-long run: not too hungry but dehydrated, had 3 ounces of pineapple juice with water, 10 almonds and iced tea (caffeine free); roughly 8 grams of carbohydrate

I am off to enjoy my recovery by putting on my 110 Play Harder compression tights.  Tomorrow morning is masters swim practice with Coach Susan from Elite Multisport Coaching, which always promises to be challenging!

Until next time...

Coach Bob


  1. Hey Bob,

    My name is Seth, I had the privelege of listening to you speak at the Omaha USA triathlon coaching clinic. I've been following some of your writings, and books since then.

    I'm enjoying reading about your self experiment with nutrition. I think it's very interesting that you say nutrition is accounting for 75% of your training adaptations. As I read this in my down time from school I couldn't help but relate it to a project I'm working on about people with McArdle's disease. Though adopting this technique would likely benefit most, I think it would be interesting to see how well this may improve McArdle's disease patient's ability to exercise.

    Would you suspect a serious low carb diet would eventually allow these people to maintain more intense exercise for longer periods of time, without mass amounts of supplemental carbohydrate intake during?

    Just a thought!

  2. My brother sent me a link to this blog. I think he's hinting I need to eat meat again..haha
    Ok so I plugged the food you ate into crono-o-meter(a little bit of guessing on smoothie)
    What I came up with was about 1500 calories which would be a bit of a deficit from the long run.
    Over %50 of calories from fat..
    over %30 of calories from protein..

    This is my own theory anyway. While I don't consider myself a serious athlete, I do run a lot of ultra marathons. It's fun to experiement. I'm not a nutrition scientist, but I did try a similar diet last fall(running on mostly animal fats). While my endurance was good. I felt like I could trudge on a long time, but had a harder time keeping speed during shorter races(50ks,marathons,etc.)
    The main reason I switched up is I kept continually getting sick, especially after races, and hard long runs. It's a bit Interesting that you have been sick half this month already. Fat is basically nutritionally void. While it is the easiest way to get calories I don't believe it's healthy. Even olive oil has basically no nutritional value.
    Since the beginning of this year I have been eating a %100 vegan. So far I haven't been sick after a race yet. My best race this year was after a month of eating nothing but raw fruits and veggies. On days when I do a second run I usually eat nothing but fruit and find that I recover much faster between runs.

    I'm also wondering why you you are taking a protein supplement when your diet is already pretty protein heavy?

    Thanks for posting results though. I'll be fun to track your progress over the long haul.