Someone throw me a lifejacket!

Even just a drifting log would be fine right now, anything for me to keep my head above water, gurgle gurgle. ..

This week I realized just how many balls I have in the air currently and nearly toppled off my balance board. Instead of gracefully flowing in a horizontal circle rising and falling in a memorizing rhythm in front of me, my balls became a vertical tornado around my head creating a sense of vertigo.

Every so often, this realization hits me, and my brain becomes tapioca pudding. I can’t keep anything straight, and I can barely breathe.  It’s not as if I took on any new projects, it just hit me this week as I scrambled to find time to work on everything I have going on.

I consider myself to be of average intelligence. I’m a capable and strong person. Ambitious, maybe to a fault. I continue to hold on to my childhood dream to change the world for the better rather than just go through life and let things crumble and tumble as they will.

I like structure. It helps me maintain the space needed between the flying balls, but this week my structure has blurred and wobbly lines.  Let me give you a sense of this past week. ..

First off, I was the on call attorney for my office, which means for seven days 24 hours a day I take all the emergency calls. This is in addition to all my regular responsibilities on my eighty or so ongoing cases.  No big deal, this happens every eight weeks, each of us takes a turn. The result is I’m super busy while at the office (8 am to 5 pm). I don’t sleep well, and my phone becomes an extra appendage.

Second, it’s the last week of school for the boys. Both of them are very excited to be done with the school year. Jasper (16) has a lot of things he wants to accomplish over the summer and we spent some time talking about prioritizing, where to look for a job, getting a running schedule in place for cross country summer training, networking for future goals, keeping up on his Ultimate Frisbee skills, and hanging out with his friends. He is very anxious about only having ONE MORE YEAR until he is an adult and being ready for that transition and increased responsibility.

Skyler (13) is experiencing high levels of anxiety because it’s spring, and he does this every single year. He is having a very difficult time regulating his emotions. He is saying hurtful things to try to reduce his own anxiety.

“I hope you die and go to hell!” he yelled at me Wednesday morning.

“Okay, but you still have to go to school,” I said.

“Not if I’m dead,” he said. His words dripping with acid.

“That’s true,” I said and continue to pack my lunch.

The best response to Skyler in these situations is no emotional response at all. He got in the car and went to school, telling me the whole way how dreadfully sick he was. I have no doubt that he felt the way he was describing, but the mind is an amazing thing when it comes to making your body feel a particular way depending upon your thought patterns.

At 930 a.m. the school called me, between court hearings, and told me he was being suspended for threatening a teacher.  Well isn’t that nice I wanted to say, but I didn’t. I called my amazing mom to go pick up my son and take him home.

“Sorry mom.” He said in a text at 10:30 a.m.

“I know.”

We also had the last week of Youth court commitments for Skyler including peer counseling and peer tutoring.  He still has community service hours, but we can do that over the summer. Each night I spend some one on one time with Skyler reading, gardening, or anything else I can convince him to come and do with his very boring mom.

Next swirling ball, my relay team. We have a race in just four weeks, and I am trying to get the last things in place to make that successful along with finding and gathering fees for the Epic Relay in August that we decided to run.  I try not to worry too much about how much or how little my team is training for the run. I just focus on my training and being able to take on extra miles in the event someone cannot finish his or her portion.

My own training is going well.  I’m up to about 30 miles a week now and will continue to increase on my way to the Pony Express 100 in October. I’m running four days a week and doing strength training three days a week. I’m beginning to think about races I want to do next year and how that will fit in with my team running. I’d like to run Zion’s 100, Bryce 100, and maybe Bear 100 in 2015.

I started writing a new book called, Reaching for Sky, and am about 20,000 words into my first draft. I’m exploring the idea of independently publishing my books. There is so much information out there about self-publishing, trying to sort through all of it is an immense project.  I found some helpful podcasts and listen to those while I drive to and from work.

I try to read a book, at least, every two weeks. It keeps my writing ideas fresh. I love to read and support the writing industry.

My garden is growing nicely. In other words, nothing has died yet. There are a million weeds, and that has been a pain to keep under control. This is my first year gardening. I try to get out there for a few minutes each day with Skyler to minimize the weekend weed pulling.

Finally, there is the general cooking, grocery shopping, and house and yard work that must be done on an ongoing basis.

That is my life in a nutshell. It would be nice to be able to clone myself or have a robot to clean house, grocery shop, do the yard work and laundry, and all the things that I don’t particularly enjoy doing.

And Jasper is concerned about what I will do when he moves out of the house? How quiet and boring the house will be when he is not there all the time. Oh, my sweet boy don’t worry about me, I always tell him.

“I have a few hobbies that will keep me busy.”

He looks at me with true sincerity. ” You have hobbies?”

“Yes dear. And friends too.” I smiled and patted him on the shoulder. “Plus I’ll just call you all the time.”  At that, he grins.

I think I can, I think I can

I hate speed work. I really do. Many people love speed work because it is more entertaining than just long slow distance (LSD). I know that I get faster overall when I do regular speed work. My marathon PR of 3:43 was when I was running speed work every week. But I live and breathe for LSD! I relax and get into my groove, and I am set for hours and hours.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been running 800s on Tuesdays. I run over to the high school (about a mile) run five 800s with a 400 in between each one. Then I run back to my house for my cool down. Next week I will add two more 800s to my workout.

Last Tuesday I was brutally reminded of one of the reasons I don’t like to run hard. I end up with a runny nose the rest of the day, like a faucet. I had a nagging feeling it was related to my allergies, so I took Claritin D. didn’t help. I took Benadryl. Didn’t help. I took Zyrtec. Didn’t help.

It happened again today but not quite as bad as last week and only one nostril. I know if I keep running speed on Tuesdays, it will stop. At least until I push harder then it will start back up again. I have no idea why this happens. I can go run a 30  mile run at a nine minute mile and my nose doesn’t run, but if I run six miles with 800s at a 6:30 I’m doomed.

So, I did what any sensible person does. I googled it. Whew, what a relief I am not alone in my suffering. I may have exercise-induced rhinitis. Sounds pleasant.

Forty percent of runners and other endurance athletes suffer from allergies. Only twenty percent of the general population does. Many runners who have allergies also have this exercise-induced rhinitis, but it can also strike those without allergies. It is believed to be triggered by pollution, specifically car exhaust. Other particles in the air also trigger it as well as dry and cold air.

The hypothesis is that because runners and other athletes spend more time outdoors they are more prone to allergies. I had a childhood free of allergies. I developed them during my second year of law school. They are the worst in the spring, but I have both indoor and outdoor allergies so I have to take an allergy pill year round.

An allergy pill is not going to fix this particular problem. A nasal spray called ipratroprium bromide is recommended, and if your lungs also become irritated, an albuterol inhaler is recommended before exercise.

I am a firm believer that pretty much anyone can be a runner. With enough patience and dedication you can figure out the reason why running hurts your knees, your foot, your whatever. So, in my mind, what it all comes down to is your personal drive and motivation. Your willingness to deal with being uncomfortable until your body adjusts. Get your little engine going and get up that hill.

Good Morning KFKD Fans!

I submitted the first twenty-five pages of my memoir to a literary agent about six weeks ago. Their website says to give them eight weeks to respond. I haven’t heard anything, and my mental radio station dial began to play KFKD (KFucKeD) last night. You know the station. It’s the one that tells you that you should have worked on the memoir another year before submitting it. The one that tells you that you’re not quite good enough to be a published author, and spirals down from there to the depths of maybe you’re not good enough to be anything.

I mean, who wants to read a book about a thirteen year old girl who gets sucked into a vampire cult in Salt Lake City, Utah(Mormon capital of the world) only to escape her controlling adult boyfriend to join a band of hippies dealing drugs and hitchhiking up the coast of the western United States, right? Long sigh. I would, but I love memoirs about people who have fought back and overcome what appeared to be insurmountable odds. My friends who have read it, say it’s great and an amazing story, but they’re my friends what else are they going to say?

Out on my run this morning I remembered a quote I read recently in Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, she was quoting from the movie Cool Runnings, which is about an Olympic bobsled team.

Their coach says, “If you are not enough before the gold medal, you will not be enough after.”

This echoed inside my head while I ran through the drizzling rain. Slowly, it became louder than KFKD, and I realized, there are a hundreds of literary agents out there. If this one decides not to respond, I will just move on to the next one, and then the next. If no one wants to pick up my memoir after a year, I will self-publish it. There are tons of people self-publishing now, and there are contests for the best self-published book each year.

I think this quote speaks volumes and articulates a foundational problem we see in many teens. And adults for that matter.  We spend so much of our time and energy striving to be better than others, sometimes at things that don’t even matter to us personally.

My youngest son, Skyler (13), struggles with this in a profound way. Strapped with anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and multiple learning disorders, he constantly compares himself with “normal” kids and in his mind never measures up. He also compares himself to his honor roll socially adept older brother. I constantly reassure him that he is an intelligent, compassionate, and determined person and that he just needs to “run his own race” and stop competing with everyone around him. But that is easier said than done, because most of the world looks at him through those same lenses comparing him to those around him.

I can practically see KFKD playing in his mind, and it shatters my heart. This weekend I am secretly putting vinyl letter on his bedroom walls that say, Brave, Strong, Courageous, and Smart. I want these words to be his the moment he opens his eyes each morning, and the last thoughts in his mind each night.

The book I am working on now is called, Reaching for Sky. It’s about Skyler’s and my journey through his childhood, dealing with his explosive and wretched emotions, and struggles to make the world see the greatness that is in him. As I said, I love stories about people who have fought back and overcome insurmountable odds.

Sharing, not always good.

Everyone has been sick at my house over the last month. That’s how it goes in families. They share. Everyone takes turns passing the cold around until pretty much everyone has suffered through it.  In my family, I’m usually skipped, which is probably good because everyone in my house would starve to death if I had to stay in bed for more than a day or two. After that, the cereal would run out with two teen boys eating it for three meals a day.

My oldest, Jasper, came down with this particular gremlin first. Right before I ran Salt Flats one hundred, he came to me and said all his friends had been sick recently and that he was not feeling so hot himself. A week later, I took him in to see the doctor because his snot had gone that awesome green color. The doctor said he had a sinus infection and gave him a prescription for antibiotics.

He asked if he could still play Ultimate Frisbee, and the doctor said it was fine for him to continue to play as long as the headache wasn’t too bad, but to make sure and wear sunscreen because he would burn easier and could develop a rash.  I sprayed him with sunscreen, and he played the next day.

I came down with it next. Thankfully, it was only bad for two days and then I was on the mend.  Poor Jasper has continued to suffer for three weeks with congestion, coughing, and a sore throat. My youngest (13), Skyler, also came down with it and was out for the count for an entire week.

Even during the two days when the cold was bad, I continued to run. I actually felt the best when I was running. It cleared my head. The only illness that has stopped me from running is a fever and that is because your body temperature rises while you run, if you have a fever already, increasing your temperature more is dangerous.

Today I read an article about how antibiotics effect runners. Apparently, the effect can be pretty drastic including, cramping, diarrhea, dehydration, fainting, dizziness, and even tendon rupture! Wow, I thought, the doctor didn’t mention any of that when Jasper asked if it was alright to continue to run up and down a field (same size as American football field) for three ninety minute games played back to back.

When I stop to think about these negative effects most of it makes sense. I know that there are good bacteria that live in your intestine and that antibiotics kill bacteria, which is why it causes upset stomach and diarrhea along with the dehydration. If you’re dehydrated, you can easily become dizzy and possibly faint. It’s the ruptured tendon that blows my mind.

The antibiotic class that is associated with tendon rupture is Fluoroquinolones. The most commonly used one being Levaquin. I have never been prescribed this antibiotic nor have either of my children, and Jasper, now 16, had many antibiotics as a young child due to chronic ear infections and strep throat.

I would never have even considered tendon rupture as a potential side effect of taking an antibiotic and engaging in athletic events. So, even though I’ve never heard of this Levaquin, I thought I would be a good idea to share this information, but not the cold. Remember to provide your doctor with all your health and activity information, even if you think it may not be relevant or effected by your everyday antibiotic.

Running Scared

Many of my girlfriends think I’m crazy for running trails alone, especially in the dark. Problem is, my choices are run alone in the dark, treadmill (and we know how much fun that is), or don’t run.  I have never had any problems out on the trails, not once have I been afraid or believed that I was in danger.

On the road is another matter. Humans are the number one predator out there, and they prey on their own kind. Even if you didn’t count the predatory humans, there are cars and dogs who have escaped their yard. Dogs on the trail, even off leash, have never bothered me. They don’t bark or snap. They lick my fingers hello and trot of tail wagging.

I always let family and friends know where I am going and what time I expect to be back. If they don’t hear from me by a certain time, they know to call search and rescue.  I take my phone and police issue pepper spray.

I have had only one experience where I believed I was in danger. At times, I run on the rail trail near my home. Most of the time I go south on the rail trail because there are more trees, and I know that the Harmon’s grocery store it is eight miles. I can use the bathroom and then turn around. One morning I decided to go north.

It was three thirty in the morning and pitch black. The stars were out and I was just trucking along the trail, looking around this way and that because I’d never been this direction. There were warehouses and factories along one side of the trail.  And trees and farm fields on the other. I turned my head to the right and was startled to see two people sitting on a wooden bench. They were about two feet from me. I didn’t notice them before because I was looking toward the fields. They were dressed in black hoodies and black sweatpants. My mouth fell open, and I stared at them while my legs continued to run. They stared back at me.

I was very unnerved by this encounter. I continued running, heart racing, and thought maybe they work at the warehouse and are on break. Okay, why did they have all black on and their hoods pulled up? I don’t know. Maybe they were sweethearts out for a little early morning walk and snuggle on the bench? At three thirty in the morning, seriously? I continued in this vein until I hit my turnaround point.

After I had passed them, I made a mental note to remember where they were, so that I could watch for them on my return trip. I kept running. It was a nice night out. I was in shorts and a t-shirt. It was late spring. I started getting to the section where they were. I slowed down. I was looking and looking for them. I knew the place where they were was close. I couldn’t see them. I slowed to a walk and then I saw them.

One was thin and about my height, and the other was larger and taller than I was. They still had their hoods up. I was about 200 meters from them. The smaller one got up from the bench and walked to the opposite side of the trail and down into the bushes. The larger one stood up and faced me. Their shoulders and hips told me they were men. I turned around and ran in the opposite direction pulling out my pepper spray. My heart was pounding in my chest, but I kept going. Once I was at the intersection of the trail and a road, I rounded the corner and ran toward Main Street where there were streetlights.

I turned to look back after getting onto the road and didn’t see anyone behind me. I held my pace until I reached Main and turned south again. I finished my run in a completely different location of the city. I have not run north on the trail since then and probably never will.

Maybe I’m paranoid, or maybe they were planning something unthinkable. Thankfully, I will never know. Safety cannot be overlooked. It could cost you your life.

Runnersworld sent out an article on some safety apps, which prompted this blog, and I think they are invaluable not only as a runner, but as a parent. Think about your children out on dates, or out with friends, youngsters who walk home alone from school or after school activities.

The first one is called Kitestring. You can activate it when you think you could be in an unsafe situation, like going out for a nighttime run. The app checks up on you after a period of time, and if you don’t respond or postpone the check-in, it sends a customized emergency message to the contacts you chose beforehand. Kitestring is a web-based program so you don’t need a smartphone it can go on any device with internet. You can find it at

The second one is from RoadID. This one allows friends and family to check in on your route. If you stop moving for five minutes and don’t respond to an alert within sixty seconds, it sends out a message to your contact. RoadID is run through iOS and can be found in the app store.

These two programs are triggered by inactivity, which is useful if you cannot get your phone out or if you are unconscious.

The third one is bsafe. You have to access your phone to use this one. One push of a button turns your phone into a siren, alerts authorities, records video, and informs your contacts of your GPS location. This one is iOS and Android and can be found in the app store

The final one is ReactMobile. It is similar to bsafe. It alerts 911 or sends your GPS location to your emergency contacts with the touch of a button. Your loved ones can also track you in real time. This one is also iOS and Android and can be found in the app store.

All four of these Apps are free, so there is no reason not to get one and use it.

Just when you thought you had it figured out…

There is so much conflicting information out there on the internet about every possible running topic stretching or not, carb loading or not, strength training or not, shoes or not, Electrolytes or not. It is never ending and constantly evolving.  As an average runner, with limited or no access to professionals, it can be hard to know what to trust and what to leave on the side of the road.

Whenever anyone asks me about one of these topics, my answer is always, “It depends,” followed by me asking a bunch of questions to figure out what their experiences have been before I can offer any helpful suggestions.

Electrolyte replenishment is a big deal for runners. We have all heard the horror stories of Hyponatremia (dangerously low blood sodium levels). Runners rushed to the hospital near death after endurance events. There are equally scary stories about dehydration.

Today I opened up my email to an article called, “Do Electrolytes Actually Prevent Marathon Cramping? Do we need to replace them at all?” from Runnersconnect suggesting that electrolytes may not be necessary for marathon and some ultra-distances. I pulled out an article I read last year (yes I still have it and know where it is) called “Electrolytes for Runners: The Definitive Guide,” also from Runnersconnect.

I love Runnersconnect. They provide a ton of excellent information and the latest research on many running related topics. In fact, I post many of their articles to my Facebook page, including this recent one.

So the article from  “Do Electrolytes Actually Prevent Marathon Cramping?…” cites Tim Noakes’ research, detailed in his book, Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports, (I have not read this book, but I have read his book, The Lore of Running, where he mentions this as well). His research suggests that your body will adjust the amount of sodium it puts out in your sweat depending on how much you usually consume and how much is available in your body.  Noakes’ says that the amount of sodium in sports drinks is not enough to stop hyponatremia because the sodium content of your blood is much higher than the amount found in any sports drink.

What I think he is saying is that the amount of sports drink you would have to consume to impact your blood sodium level could lead to overhydration.  Noakes’ advocates drinking to thirst and mostly plain water.

But sodium isn’t the only benefit of sports drinks, they also contain carbohydrates that your body needs (unless you’re a low carb runner) to maintain your pace over the duration of your run. Just keep in mind that your body can only absorb so much carbohydrate per hour, and if you take in more you will end up with an unhappy stomach.

The article “Electrolytes for Runners: The Definitive Guide,”  suggests that if your electrolytes get out of balance you may experience muscle fatigue, muscle cramping, muscle spasms, dizziness, nausea, constipation, dry mouth, muscle weakness, dark urine, and decreased urine. The four most important electrolytes that keep bodily fluid balanced are sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, so these are the ones that you are looking for in your sports drinks.

Some of this conflicting information can be attributed to advances in research data and collection. After all, Gatorade has only been available to the public, as the first official sports drink, since 1967. The marathon race has been an event in the Olympics since 1896 (the distance was standardized in 1921). So, I suppose it is about time for the pendulum to swing back on sports drinks vs. water  as it has in many other areas (Paleo diet and barefoot running).

There are a million different products out on the market, so which one is right? Or maybe none of them are right? I believe everyone agrees some form of hydration is necessary when running more than two hours.

I take my hand held out whenever I’m going out for more than one hour. What I put in my water, if anything, changes depending on distance and temperature. I know that if I go out for a long run in the heat without any electrolytes, I will come back with nausea, dizziness, and muscle weakness. I also know that as a low carb runner, my body retains less water and less electrolyte storage. So if I don’t take magnesium I will get muscle cramps.

Electrolytes are another area where you have to figure out what your body needs through trial and error. I don’t think there is one answer that fits everyone. And my guess is the middle road is probably the best one to travel.

Live in the Run

My favorite thing to do after my morning run is to sit on my front porch as the sun crests the Wasatch Mountains, my first cup of coffee steaming next to me, and my hand cradling the well-worn pages of a book. My body is relaxed and refreshed from my run, and my mind is open and excited with the new day.

This morning I was reading Bird By Bird, by Anne Lamott. I started the book a few days ago and pick it up every spare moment I have. I came upon this passage in the book:

“To be engrossed by something outside of ourselves is a powerful antidote for the rational mind, the mind that so frequently has its head up its own ass—seeing things in such a narrow and darkly narcissistic way that it presents a colo-rectal theology, offering hope to no one.”

These words resonate like the deep vibration of a gong. These are the final lines of a chapter about what I think of as the author’s mind, the perspective on the world needed by a writer to bring the pages to life for the reader. It’s a place of awareness of what is going on around you and an openness to it similar to the wonder of a child who is experiencing something for the first time.

I think many of us, myself definitely included, get so caught up in our internal world that we lose sight of the beauty and wonder around us. We also forget that every other person is up to their neck in their own flavor of suffering and heartache, and we react toward them in unkind and reckless ways.

I run for a lot of reasons, and one is to be able to experience life, to see the world in a way others don’t, and to occupy my mind’s space. This is why I find an iPod annoying most of the time. An iPod blocks this awareness of the sounds, smells, sights, and feelings of running. It takes you outside of the moment.

There are really only two situations where I find my iPod useful while I run. First, is on the treadmill. The treadmill is boring. I don’t put the iPod in at first, but after about six miles on the treadmill, the iPod becomes a welcome distraction. The second is when it is 100 degrees Fahrenheit, no shade, and I’m running uphill. During those times, the iPod is also a welcome distraction.

Many of my running friends always use their iPod when running. They love it. They explain that running is boring and hard, and they need something to take their mind off of the monotony, rapid heart rate, and ragged breathing. I have nothing against those who use iPods. I would rather have them run with an iPod than not run at all.

But I encourage everyone to unplug for a mile every so often and live in the run.

Dance Among the Debris

The cool crisp morning air passes over my tongue and expands my belly. My arms whoosh past my waist. My feet roll gently over the earth. I want to spend as much time as I can running, but I recognize that if I want to keep running, I have to take care of other areas of my life and health, or I won’t be running long. I take every opportunity to learn more about training, injury prevention, and extra things you can do to enhance (and protect) your running.
I want to be the best runner I can be, and I’m willing to work hard, put in the miles, stretch, and strength train. Many articles and research studies come out recommending various necessary ingredients in a workout routine, including, but not limited to: stretching, nutrition, massage, ice baths, strength training, sleeping, resting, and cross training.
It is difficult to manage it all, and it is hard to know what is necessary and beneficial to YOU and your goals. There are only 24 hours in a day no matter how you cut it. Most of us have day jobs and families, which demand and deserve a lot of our attention and energy.
As a single mom, full time attorney, ultrarunner, and aspiring writer, if I stop to think about all that I want to do, and all that I currently have in motion it can be very overwhelming. I try to think about it in steps and small goals rather than as the ultimate finished masterpiece. I know that all the pieces will fall snuggly into place with patience and persistence. Sometimes I get a glimpse of all the pieces of my life swirling around in a chaotic whirlwind, and I become immobilized trapped in the eye of the storm.
The most important and helpful thing for me is to remember to be present and mindful of what is happening right now. What do I need to do right now? Of course, what I choose to do right now will influence what I can and cannot do in the future, so I must keep future goals in mind and prioritize.
For me the most important additional components in my training are injury prevention, stretching/rolling and strength training. If I can prevent an injury by adding 20 minutes to my workout each day, I will do it. An injury is going to take more time and expense than 20 minutes a day with the travel time to the physical therapist, the cost of three appointments a week for six to eight weeks. Been there, done that, no thanks.
Having a strong sense of who I am and what I want out of life keeps me from becoming too tangled. It also prevents me from taking on more projects, whether they are some fleeting interest or someone else’s request/problem. I know what I am passionate about and, which corner of the world I would like to change. I’m passionate about running and helping others conquer abuse, addiction, and domestic violence. I’ll leave the rest of the world to those who have the passion for changing it.
This does not always prevent my life from becoming a tornado-massacred trailer park. After all, I don’t live in a home populated by only me. My children’s tornados collide with mine on a regular basis and we learn to dance among the debris.

Low Carb Running

I’m going to a three-day conference on the prosecution and presentation of evidence in child abuse/neglect cases this week. My mom is staying with my boys. I love attending this conference even though the topics we hear about are difficult and emotional. The conference is held up in the mountains, so I’m able to get out and run those trails, which is a treat for me. As I was preparing for the conference, I realized I would have to pack my own food!
As I’ve mentioned before, I am a low carbohydrate athlete. I started this adventure on January 2, 2014. One of my friends, Justin, had been talking about low carb for athletes for about a year. He brought me a book about it in December, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance, by Jeff S. Volek, Ph.D, RD and Stephen D. Phinney, MD, Ph.D, I agreed to read the book and after reading it I agreed to give it a try for sixty days.
Before reading the book, I had a general understanding about the theories of low carb. But, I had also heard negative things about the whole Atkins diet. My parents had tried the low carb diet for weight loss reasons and could never maintain it. Anyway, the theory behind low carb, as I understood it before reading the book, was that your body has a lot of calories of fat to burn, much more than the calories it has from sugar. So, If you burned fat you could run stronger longer.
I read the book and found out that there is more to low carb than just being able to run stronger for longer, especially, for extreme endurance events such as the 100 miler. The human body contains about 2000 calories of sugar/glycogen stored in the muscles. Glycogen is easy to burn, and the body burns it first. This is one of the reasons it is hard to lose weight if you don’t control your sugar intake. You have to burn through those 2000 calories before you start burning the fat. If you are constantly replenishing the sugar, it is difficult to get to the fat burning.
The human body even when it only has six percent fat, has more than 40,000 calories of fat to burn. Imagine being able to tap into that resource. You would be pretty much unstoppable, right? Here’s the thing, because your body has been trained from the time you were born to burn glycogen as its primary fuel it needs time to adapt to burning fat more efficiently. It can burn fat, but it takes time to build up enough of the fat break down enzymes to use fat as your primary fuel source. I hope this make sense.
It takes approximately four to eight weeks to build up enough enzymes. Until you build enough, you may feel tired and hungry. However, after you have the enzymes you don’t lose them, and you are a fat burning machine. As an athlete, this means that you do not have to continually consume sugar during endurance events to fuel. You won’t hit the wall, crash, or bonk because your energy source is tapped into 40,000 calories rather than 2000 calories. This is great news for those of us with more sensitive stomachs that have a hard time consuming enough sugar during events to fuel our bodies. When burning fat, you really don’t need to consume much if anything. You do need more water and more electrolytes than you did burning sugar because your body does not carry as much water weight.
Your brain uses two types of fuel, sugar or fat. If you are using sugar as your primary fuel source during an endurance event and your sugar gets low, your cognitive functioning also gets sketchy. You get loopy, take more time to process information, and have a difficult time making complex decisions. At the end of a hundred mile event this is problematic and one of the reasons a pacer and crew are needed. If you are using fat as your primary source of fuel, this doesn’t happen because you don’t run out of calories to feed your brain.
Other benefits of the low carb diet are, reduced recovery time, reduces the likelihood that the body will burn protein (read muscle mass here) as a fuel source when glycogen runs out, and better respiratory functions
When I first began the low carb diet, I had to eat every two hours to not feel nauseous and shaky. My energy levels dropped and maintaining my high miles was difficult. However, after two months I was able complete a 30 mile run without any sugar supplements and if felt great. I went out the next day and did another twenty and felt amazing. I recover quickly from races, example, after the Salt Flats 100, I was running the next weekend because my body was ready to get back out there. I felt strong and refreshed. I’ve run two ultras a 50 and a 100 on the low carb diet and my mental state has remained stable. I did not have major emotional swings, which I experienced when using sugar as my fuel source. I am alert, smiling, and thinking clearly.
Weight loss is also a benefit of low carb, although, it was not one of the reasons I switched. I have lost about 15 lbs over the last five months on the diet.
The first two months were the most difficult. When I went to the grocery store, I saw everything I could not eat rather than learning new things I could eat. Once I felt the benefits of the diet on my running and really committed to a low carb diet, I started looking into recipes for my favorite things such as brownies, ice cream, and snickerdoodle cookies. I can make all of these low carb now, and love them.
It is a big adjustment and makes restraint eating much more difficult, hence the reason I am packing food for the conference. There are tons of resources online and a large variety of low carb cookbooks out there. I would not maintain this diet if it did not provide the athletic benefits it does because it is difficult. I love it now, but it has taken time and research.
If you have interest in trying low carb, I encourage you to read the book (144 pgs), get a cookbook, and learn to make your favorite treats low carb doing these things make this diet easier to maintain.

Run off the Weight

I recognize not all runners run just for the pure enjoyment of running. My oldest son does not enjoy running. In fact, he has told me many times he pretty much hates running. He runs because it’s a social event and, in the beginning, he ran because of the physical benefits and new found muscle definition.  For the last two years, he has run on his high school cross country team. They start training in the summer and then the season ends in October. Since the end of last season, he has found other ways, Ultimate Frisbee and weight training, to stay fit. He enjoys these much more than running.

He said he kind of feels bad that he doesn’t like running because he knows how much I love it. Honestly, if he doesn’t love running (or even like it), that’s all right with me. What I want for him is to find ways to stay healthy and fit. I want him to learn the habits of eating well and exercising on a regular basis. Because the older you get, the harder it is to develop and stick to healthy habits.

Many people are drawn to running because they want to look better and lose weight. This is excellent! Of course, there will be hurdles and roadblocks as there are in all aspects of life. You may even have some regression at times.

Some runners begin with high expectations on pace and the way they should feel. When they don’t see the expected improvement in their pace or the way they feel they stop. They give up thinking, “This will never work for me. Why did I even think I could do this?” Hurdle one: lack of improvement. The best counter to this is to have a training program. Start small and work your way up. Have short-term and long-term goals. Register for a 5k in eight weeks and then find a training program. Start with walking nine minutes and running one. For thirty-minute sessions three to four times a week. Lower your walk time and increase the run time by one minute each week. You want your plan to be challenging, but not too much. If it’s too hard then you are likely to get tired, take a few days off, and then a few more…

Seeing the number on the scale drop is pretty motivating, but what if it’s holding steady? Hurdle two: Lack of weight loss. Look at your diet and not just your activity level. Weight must be fought on both fronts. You don’t need to make drastic changes to your diet. First, it’s good to know what you are actually putting in. Keep a food diary for a week or two. Next, make the choice to make one meal a day healthier. Start small and work your way up. In order to lose weight, you have to take in fewer calories than you are burning. Your body will burn the sugar it has stored in your muscles before burning fat. Reducing your sugar/carbohydrate intake and increasing your calories burned each day will lead to weight loss.  

Everyone has bad days, even elite runners who have coaches and nutrition specialists following them around all day have bad days. Sometimes we have bad weeks. Roadblock number one: Negative thoughts/mental state. You can’t let a bad workout or a bad week throw you off. Things will get better. They always do. Keep telling yourself, what goes down must come up. Surround yourself with positive people and put positive affirmations on your mirror in the morning or on the back of your door. Even on the edge of your computer screen. I have inspirational quotes on post-it notes on my wall next to my computer. Whenever, I see one I like, I put it up there. You have to let bad days go, forget about them, and move forward. Every day is a new day.

Some of us get into an “I don’t give a F***,” (sorry about the F, but you know what I’m talking about) mode and just eat everything and don’t go to the gym. Of course, we feel bad later.. sometimes. So, what if I miss a day or two? Roadblock number two: Regression. Let it go. Get back out there. Find a gym partner who can hold you accountable when you are hitting that wall. Every day is a new day. I don’t care if it’s a week, get back out there.

Staying committed to exercising and eating well is hard. I have had my fair share of false starts, changing sports, gym partners, and video workouts. I’ve been 40 pounds overweight. It’s hard to lose. It took me a little over a year! The most important thing is to not give up, set small goals, and then bigger ones. And always celebrate your success.