Post Ultra Weight Gain- It’s totally Normal.

Phew, October was a busy month for me. I feel like it has been ages since I put up a blog and for those of you who like to follow my progress and life happenings I just want to assure that I am still alive and on the earth!

So, many of you know that I have been training for the Lookout Mountain 50 Mile race in December. I am officially five weeks away now and in my “taper” phase. I wrapped up my last 50k before and have a few longer training runs for the rest of November before I start winding down and getting some fresh legs again. So far this training cycle I did Stump Jump, The 12 hour dirt Circuit (3rd overall female at 41.3 miles) and then last weekend Norris Dam Hard 50k (2nd female and 10 minute course PR!!!!). I have mostly trained on trails, but every other week I still to a 10-12 mile long run and have hit up the greenway where I like to give my legs a break and to also work more on speed and leg turnover. I feel like my training is finally going good. I have been consistent with my plan, having to tweak some workouts here and there, but overall have seen some major progress as an athlete this year.

The first year that I did ultra-marathons, I really did not know much about how to properly fuel before, during, and after races. I lost a lot of weight and took a long time to recover between each race and long run. This year, I have learned some new lessons. While, overall, I have lost about 6 pounds since the summer, my weight has fluctuated a lot around each hard race. After experiencing it and also consulting with other athletes, I have learned that it is not uncommon to gain about 5-7 pounds after an ultra.

Many of you may be shocked by this, as I was. How can you burn 3-6,000 calories (or more), not even come close to putting that back in, and gain that much weight? For someone who has always been self-conscious about their weight and body, I gave myself a hard time and literally sent myself into panic mode. When I didn’t fuel properly the first year of ultra-running I experienced significant weight loss after each race (10lbs after my first 50k), which was not healthy. Now that I am taking in approximately 100 calories each hour during an ultra, I am gaining this much weight? It didn’t make sense. Also, I had felt so bloated and puffy like I couldn’t fit my legs in pants (hello dresses and leggings for about a week after each race).

After doing some research and also talking with other athletes, this amount of weight gain is perfectly normal and does eventually go away. For instance, before Stump Jump I weighed about 126. The first day after I weighed about 132.5, second day 128, and eventually went down 2 pounds from my original weight to 124. The same occurred the next two events. Apparently, this weight gain is a combination of electrolyte consumption from the sports drinks, gels, and salty snacks runners take in. It can cause your body to retain excess water weight. Additionally, your body goes into a panic mode where it starts to store everything you eat because it doesn’t know when you are going to stop running or if it will need the calories for a few days. Thirdly, you are literally wreaking havoc on your joints and muscle tissue so your body holds on to excess fluid (in the process of inflammation) in order to repair the trauma it is experiencing. Eventually, the puffiness will go away and if you kidneys are functioning properly will “pee it out”.

So basically, while it is annoying and somewhat shocking, it is perfectly normal and even healthy for your body to hold on to a few extra pounds for a few days. If you are doing the right workouts (adding in intervals and weight training mixed in with slow long distance runs) as well as eating the right foods, you shouldn’t be gaining weight and keeping it on during your race cycle.

I am not afraid to admit that I am a little self-conscious about weight, but overall this year I have learned to love my body for what it can do and its strength. It is easier said than done when we live in a society that demands for women to look a certain way to constantly check their weight so that you are in the lower range of a “healthy BMI”. However, I am trying to challenge my negative thoughts associated with weight with “look at what you have accomplished and survived”.

 

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So how’s life been?

So for those of you that follow me on Facebook, it is pretty obvious from my pictures and posts lately that I am officially in the throes of my end of summer race season. I haven’t posted in a few weeks due to life being extremely busy, but I have several updates.

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What has life been like post whole 30?

So Whole 30 was great for my body and I needed the reset, however it takes a lot of time and money to prepare meals ahead of time and eat 100% clean for 30 days. I am still eating a mostly primal diet (I am saying primal rather than “paleo” because I am eating organic cheeses, yogurt, milk etc.- which is not allowed with paleo). One thing that I added back in was dairy because it is a great affordable source of protein, but I make sure to buy organic and without a lot of sugar. I am also eating some gluten free oatmeal and cereal for some extra carbs now that my mileage is back in the double digits. Also… Peanut butter. I am sorry, but this is my number one vice. Things that haven’t worked out well so far are breads and Mexican food for some reason- I tried this last week at a training and was sick for 2 days. Not sure if it was just the restaurant that catered or the fact that I had not had tortilla chips, beans, or those seasonings in over two months.

What have I been doing?

So in the past month I have done a lot of running and racing! 3 weeks ago I ran the new trail ways at Norris Dam with friends and then did Mt. Leconte the following day- so a total of 20 miles for Sat./Sun. Then the next week I competed in the Xterra Panther Creek ½ marathon and placed 1st in age group!!!! Then… Last weekend I did my first Spartan in a year and a ½ and ran the Asheville Super Spartan. I ran the Spartan for fun, but realized that I do need to improve grip strength and stamina on the hills. I am hoping to do much better when I do the Carolinas Beast in October, with new training ideas. I placed 23 in age group which was okay considering the competition that was there in the women’s elite heat.

August is a busy month for some reason- it is for sure the hottest here in the south, so I am pretty sure that race directors are just sadistic and want to put on a race every weekend to torture us! This weekend I am doing Haw Ridge Trail Race and the following weekend is the Tennessee Spartan Sprint. Both of these races will be shorter distances- I am hoping to do well, but realize that you can’t realistically perform your complete best with little to no rest. This month is about pushing my mental limitations and amping up my training for the winter.

I have been continuing to do cross fit mixed in with my runs. My body is finally adapting and I am not left so sore that I can’t move after the workouts now. I can tell my grip strength is improving (something that is important for OCR) and I am so determined to get some strict pullups again. We are currently doing “summer of deadlifts” and I am now at 135 pounds this week. We will work up to a one rep max and build from there. I am noticing a huge difference in core strength and my speed is improving on hill workouts, due to all of the glute and hamstring work with deadlifts and squats.

What’s coming up for Me?

So I officially lost my mind and I have signed up for the Georgia Death Race (68-ish miles) for next April. To prepare, I will be doing a couple of 12/24 hour endurance events, 50K, and 50 Mile (Lookout Mountain Chattanooga) in December. I just want to finish these races since I consider myself new to ultra-running and haven’t done a 50K since November 2014.

What does a typical day of training look like?

With having two simultaneous careers going currently, I have to be creative with planning my workouts. When I am doing personal training- I get some mobility and core work in with my clients that are advanced- jumping in on some parts of their workouts also pushes them to test their own limits.

Tuesdays/Thursdays are dedicated to running. I will do a hill workout and a speed workout on either day. On my day off is a long run, usually on trails. If I am not too sore I will add in an extra day in the week to do an easy 3-5 mile run.

M, W, F- are usually cross fit days. I try to do some other cardio for cross training as well such as the stair climber or rower. Sometimes due to my workout schedule I have to combine days and will do my run then do cross fit or vice versa. I try not to do that as it ends up being a two hour workout on those days and I am depleted for work the next day.

I also try to do Yoga at least once a week- usually Sunday or Monday.

Fall Race Schedule 2016

Hey everyone! So I have had a hard time deciding on where to take my running adventures in the next several months. While I really would like to continue to work on speed and potentially qualifying for Boston some day, my life and stress levels have been at an all time high the past couple of months. I have been getting on the trails again and that seems to be the one and only solace that is helping. So the decision has been made to attempt to pursue a 50 miler again. The last time I attempted this was two years ago- when I wrecked havoc on my immune system and had strep throat that wouldn’t go away. Now that my tonsils are gone, hopefully I can train without getting so sick this time. I definitely learned some lessons from my last attempt. For those of you that don’t know, the longest run I have completed was around 38-40 miles (we weren’t allowed to have GPS and it was an unmarked course). I have developed a race schedule so that I can attempt some longer distance runs and ultra’s working up to it, but I feel like this is the time to work on achieving a 50 miler!

courage quote

image from quotesgram.com

 

2016 Tentative Fall Race Schedule:

  • July 30- Panther Creek (trail) 1/2 Marathon
  • August 6th- Holston River Challenge (this one is a “maybe”)
  • August 13th- Haw Ridge Trail Run 7-ish miles
  • August 20- Nashville Spartan Sprint
  • September 24th- Virginia Super Spartan or the Big South Fork Trail Race
  • October 1st-Stump Jump 50K (training race)
  • October 8- Rock and Root 30K (training race)
  • October 15th – The Dirt Circuit (probably going to attempt 24 hours)
  • October 29th- Carolina Spartan Beast
  • November 12th- Norris Dam 50K
  • November 19th- Secret City 1/2 Marathon
  • December 17th- Lookout Mountain 50 Miler – Chattanooga TN

I am still working out the schedule and making sure I will have the funds of course- but trying to add some longer distance races so that I have some support and other people to run with for my longer training runs. Wish me Luck!!!! I am hoping to make it to the finish line this time. If I can make it through the fifty miles- I am hoping to apply to run the Georgia Death Race in the spring which is about 72 miles.

Whole 30 Day 28-29

EEEK! I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day!!! I am hoping to finish it with a holiday 5K tomorrow and then I have bought two pints of Halo Top Ice Cream to test out (Birthday Cake and Mint Chip flavors)  on the 31st day. I have already meal prepped for next week and have kept it compliant with whole30 / paleo rules- so I won’t be going crazy like I have heard of some people doing and eating burgers, pizza, and fries. The thoughts of those foods make me feel a little nauseous now. I think its due to the brain washing and literal detox I went through. I don’t want to feel that sick again!

Day 28 Food: 

Breakfast- 2 hardboiled eggs, 1/4 cup of walnuts, and a green apple with coffee

Lunch- The last of my buffalo chicken muffins and roasted veggies

Snacks- banana and a homemade energy bar

Dinner-grassfed beef hotdogs with sauerkraut and another apple with some melted almond butter and dark cocoa powder for dip.

Day 28 Workout: Crossfit we did our second round of dead lifts for the week 3 x 10 @ 85# for me. Then we did our WOD: 21-15-9 for time of Kettle bell swings and Burpees (used 35# KB). This one left me feeling like toast.

Day 29 Food: 

Breakfast- 2 hardboiled eggs with 1/4 cup of almonds and a green apple and coffee

Lunch- I had a grilled chicken salad from Zoe’s Kitchen with the feta and pita left out and a peach (so glad these are in season now)

Snack- a Banana and an apple I don’t know why I was so hungry today

Dinner-two turkey/bacon/blueberry meatloaf muffins and 1 cup of roasted brussel sprouts

Day 29 Workout:  tried a cross fit endurance workout I found on pinterest- My shin (which I suspected had a stress fracture last month) is hurting horribly again.

  • 800 M run Warm up
  • 50 Situps / 50 Double Unders / 400 M run
  • 40 Situps / 40 Double Unders / 400 M run
  • 30 Situps / 30 Double Unders / 400 M run
  • 20 Situps / 20 Double Unders / 400 M Run
  • 10 Situps / 10 Double Unders
  • 800 M Run Cool Down

Whole30 Days 25-27

Today is officially Day 28- so 2 more days left of the challenge!!!! I kind of cheated a little and weighed myself (oh, that is also a rule- no weighing until the challenge is over), but I had people asking me if I am losing weight because I look different so I felt like I had to. I have lost 6 pounds- which was not even the main goal of this challenge. I feel pretty happy about because I am feeling so much better and I can tell my body composition is changing dramatically- which is why I will be following a paleo lifestyle after this. However, I am eating at least 1 cup of ice cream on day 31 haha. I may try to add some quinoa and peanut butter back in (I miss peanut butter so much- almond butter just isn’t the same) gradually, to see if I tolerate it. I am almost scared to add too much back in because I don’t want to feel bad again! Also, I am working on my fall/winter race schedule so I will be posting that soon! Hoping to do some OCR and possibly a spartan trifecta while building up to my next road race. I am starting to learn it is more about doing what you enjoy and while all runners want to qualify for boston- my life just hasn’t allowed the time to recover and completely focus on speed the last few months.

Day 25 Food: 

  • Breakfast: 2 hardboiled eggs, 1 green apple, 1/4 cup of walnuts and coffee
  • Lunch: 2 buffalo chicken meatloaf muffins, roasted veggies
  • Snack: Homemade energy bar and a banana
  • Dinner: met my mom at Applebees- Had sweet potato, broccoli, and a grilled salmon fillet

Day 25 Workout: Rest- got a pedicure with  my mom.

Day 26 Food: 

  • Breakfast- 2 hardboiled eggs, 1 green apple, 1/4 cup of walnuts
  • Lunch-2 buffalo chicken meatloaf muffins and roasted veggies
  • Snack- banana
  • Dinner- two turkey/bacon/blueberry meatloaf muffins and 1 cup of roasted brussel sprouts

Day 26 workout: Took another rest day- my shin issue has flared up again =(

Day 27  Food: 

  • Breakfast- 2 hardboiled eggs, 1 green apple, 1/4 cup of walnuts and coffee
  • Lunch-2 buffalo chicken meatloaf muffins and roasted veggies
  • Snack-banana
  • Dinner-grassfed beef hotdogs with sauerkraut and roasted veggies

Day 27 Workout– 2.5 miles treadmill incline (Up to 15% grade) with some sprints added in, Crossfit: 21 min EMOM — 1st minute 3 Bear complex @45#, 2nd- 6 Evil Wheels, and 3rd-10 pushups (add 1 every round).

Whole30 Day 7

I cannot believe it is day 7 of the whole 30 challenge. I am one week in finally and have only had one minor slip up (unknowingly). The days are getting easier as they go along and the headaches have pretty much went away. I still feel fatigued and sleepy, but I think this is a combination of my work schedules, running, the weather here in TN, and trying this challenge.

So I have had a lot of questions about why I am doing this challenge. It is not for weight loss by any means. It is just to better my overall health and trigger point foods that agitate my body. Also, there is something meditative about preparing your own food and knowing what goes in your body. I have found that meal prepping has made me appreciate my food and I am more grateful for what I eat and that it is healthy. So many people eat the majority of their meals traveling or going through drive thru unmindful and ungrateful for the food that they are eating. This challenge is definitely forcing me to recognize the chemicals and ingredients that go into my body. I am becoming more educated about the FDA and how our foods are processed and manufactured. It is very eye opening. Watch the documentary Sugar Coated on Netflix and you will know what I am talking about!

Day 6 Food:

8:30 AM- Coffee with almond milk, two boiled eggs, 1/2 cup of walnuts, 1 green apple.

12:00 AM- Two Turkey Meatloaf Muffins on top of spinach/arugula mix and 1 cup of roasted brussel sprouts

4:15 PM- Pre- Run snack: 1 homemade mango/coconut bar, 1 small banana

7:30 PM- Went out to dinner with my mom again (it’s rare that I eat out this much in one week–but here I am doing it while starting this challenge!). I had a green goddess cobb salad at Panera with olive oil for dressing and an apple. I had planned on doing the power menu, but apparently they do not have that anymore. I read somewhere else that this salad was whole30 compliant though. It was actually very filling and satisfying for a salad.

IMG_0064[1]Day 6 Workout:

In the morning I walked 1 mile total with clients. During my work lunch I did a circuit of 25 pushups followed by 1 minute plank x4. In the evening I ran 8 miles on my skyfit app (I am loving this app, because it actually makes the treadmill fun…) since it was so hot outside. I was feeling pretty weak before the run and didn’t want to risk  passing out so I stuck with the indoors, just in case I took a turn for the worse.