Two Week Test, Day One

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This cauliflower crust wasn’t as crisp as a wheat crust, but it had great flavor and was really filling.

Well, I’ve survived the first day of the Two Week Test.  Due to some scheduling logistics, I kicked off today with a long run, which probably wasn’t the best plan on the first day.  I tend to become pretty ravenous on long run days, which made it slightly challenging to get in enough calories for the day.  I hit a major lull in the early afternoon, but ended the day feeling stuffed after a good dinner.

I managed to make it through 16 miles on the trails by only hydrating with water.  I was definitely dragging a bit at the end of the run, but that could have been due to the lack of sleep, or the fact that my running was pretty inconsistent while on vacation.

For those who want the nitty gritty details, here’s what I ate on the first day:

Breakfast: Egg whites scrambled in butter with tomatoes, spinach,  and mushrooms.  Topped with chopped avocado and grated cheddar cheese.

Snack after running: String cheese, cucumber, and some pistachios

Lunch: A large salad with mixed greens, kale, and purple cabbage, cucumbers, and carrots.  Topped with feta cheese, olives, sliced almonds, and homemade balsamic vinaigrette.  A hard boiled egg on the side.

Afternoon snack: Green olives, cut up carrots & homemade crackers dipped in guacamole.  Seltzer mixed with lime juice

Dinner:  An olive, broccoli, and mushroom pizza on a cauliflower crust and a garden salad

At the rate I’m going, I’m going to need to hit the grocery store again in another day or two.  At least I’m getting in plenty of veggies.  Tomorrow I go back to work, so we’ll see how that works out.

If you’re curious about recipes, I found the cauliflower pizza crust recipe here and the cracker recipe over here.

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Diving into the Two Week Test

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I don’t think my fridge has ever held so many veggies at one time.  Today we bought carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, bell peppers, kale, spinach, mixed greens, cauliflower, zucchini and spaghetti squash.

In my previous post, I shared my review of Christopher McDougall’s latest book, Natural Born Heroes.  While reading this book, I was introduced to Dr. Phil Maffetone, who is a long-time advocate of the benefits of fat burning workouts.  The more I read about the “Maffetone Method,” the more I was intrigued.

In a nutshell, this method advocates training your body to burn fat, not carbs during the majority of your workouts.  The idea is that by using your body’s numerous fat stores as a source of energy, you will be able to sustain performance at a higher level, and for a longer period of time, with less effort.  There are several steps that Dr. Maffetone recommends if you are committed to this idea.

The first step, is to take the Two Week Test (TWT) to determine how your body processes carbohydrates.  I am confident that the majority of the carbohydrates that I eat are high-quality, whole grain carbs, but I am sure that I eat too many.  I like fruits and veggies, but I would choose a granola bar over produce just about any day of the week.  The thought of the TWT is equally intriguing and terrifying for me, however, after mulling it over for the past week, I have decided that I am going to give it a go starting tomorrow.  These are the foods that I will be consuming while on the test:

  1. eggs, cheese, butter, full-fat yogurt, and heavy cream
  2. cooked and raw veggies & mushrooms
  3. tree nuts, seeds, and nut butters
  4. oils, vinegars, and spices
  5. coffee & tea
  6. avocados & olives
  7. sprouted tofu

These are the foods that I usually consume that I will be avoiding for the next two weeks:

  1.  whole grains – oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, whole what pasta
  2. fruits
  3. legumes – beans, lentils, etc.
  4. natural sweeteners – honey & maple syrup
  5. chocolate
  6. beer

It’s hard to imagine giving up all grains and fruits (not to mention chocolate) for two weeks, but I am hopeful that tweaking my diet like this will allow me to have more even energy levels throughout the day, while not feeling hungry all the time.  I plan to post my daily progress on Facebook, and will check back in several times on the blog for updates along the way.

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At least I have permission to eat as much cheese as I want.  That has to be a positive, right?

Book Report: Natural Born Heroes

Natural Born Heroes is the second book penned by Christopher McDougall, the man behind Born to Run, which was a national phenomenon several years ago.  I wrote about my love for McDougall’s first book in a post last year, so it was only natural that I would want to try out his next book.  This second book is so full of information that I can already tell I am going to have to go back and read it again, just to digest everything.

The subheading of this new book is “How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance.”  The story is largely set on Crete during the second World War.  I have very little knowledge of modern history, and I was completely unaware of the Cretan Resistance during the war, so this entire part of the story was completely new to me.  Basically, McDougall explores what it was about the Cretan way of life that allowed these relatively untrained individuals to hold off Hitler’s army for so long.  As he did in Born to Run, he incorporates a great deal of exercise physiology into the story.  Natural Born Heroes explores the practice of natural movement, as well as the Maffetone Method, which focuses on the benefits of training the body to burn fat rather than carbs.

McDougall is a convincing storyteller, and he writes with such detail that I found myself wondering why I had never taken a previous interest in the history of WWII.  The characters in his story come to life on the pages, and I found myself wishing I had a chance to meet them in person.  The book also inspires an urge to examine your own dietary and training methods, at least it did for me.  If you are interested in a compelling story, or a more in-depth exploration into sport science, I highly recommend Natural Born Heroes.

Naked Bavarian Race Recap

Apparently, I’ve become an Uberendurancesports junkie.  Last year, I ran their 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut Marathon in June, and the Sloppy Cuckoo 12 Hour in October.  This year, I signed up for the Naked Bavarian Marathon after convincing myself that it would be a great training run.  I’m also signed up for 3 more of their races in the next 6 months.  They put on well-organized races, on fun trails, with great aid stations, at an awesome price.  It’s hard to beat that.

In any case, last Sunday I ran the Naked Bavarian Marathon.  Don’t get too excited – the “naked” refers to the no frills aspect of the race, not anyone who actually ran sans clothing.  I signed up several months ago, but found myself with a lack of motivation the day before the race.  It was the first time I was facing a marathon alone in several years, and that, coupled with the knowledge that my family was not planning to attend, made it hard to get excited.  Fortunately I reached out to several running friends online, who reminded me that sometimes it’s important to just go out and run for yourself.  Armed with that thought, I organized all of my running gear and nutrition the night before and crawled into bed.

I awoke in the morning quite refreshed, and set about with my pre-run routine.  The race was a little over an hour away, so I enjoyed my oatmeal breakfast in the car as I made my way to the start.  One of my favorite things about trail races is how chill things are at the start.  I arrived about an hour early, parked, and then got out to use the bathroom and pick up my race bib.  I took it as a good sign that I had such a fun race number.  Superstitious, I know, but it made me feel better about the race.  I returned to my car, where I spent the next 30 minutes relaxing and staying warm.  Naked Bavarian had three different race distances that started at staggered times, and I had the opportunity to watch the badass 40-mile runners start their race.  After making sure that my hydration pack was properly stocked, I strapped it on, locked the car, and headed to the marathon start with just ten minutes to go.  At the start, I briefly caught up with my friend, Nicole, who was running the 20-miler and listened to a few brief instructions from the race director.  Then just like that, we were off.

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My awesome race number

 

The race course was fantastic.  We started with some rolling hills through the woods, ran across beautiful open fields, and then returned to the woods.  I found myself behind a pack of five runners who were clearly together and knew what they were doing.  Whenever we approached a significant incline, they would slow and hike until the trail leveled out again.  I decided to just tag along and let them set the pace, and I think this was one of the keys to success for me in this race, as it kept me from going out too fast in the early miles.

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Some of the great open fields that we traveled through

The course was a 6-mile stretch out, at which point the marathons split from those who were running 20 or 40 miles.  We did a 6.2 mile loop, before rejoining the rest of the group for a 7 mile loop and the final 6 miles back to the finish.  I found that having the course divided into 4 different sections really helped me out mentally, as I chose to just focus on one section at a time.  It was also a nice boost rejoining the main race about halfway through, as it gave us a chance to chase down some of the 20-milers who had gotten ahead of us.  The course had several impressive climbs and plenty of rolling hills, but it was surprisingly runnable throughout.  We were fortunate that our mild winter had left the trails a bit muddy in spots, but otherwise in good condition.

By the time I made it to the final 6 mile stretch back home, we began to pass the first of the 40-miler runners who were heading back out for their second loop of the whole course.  This ended up being one of my favorite aspects of this race, as the vast majority of the runners were happy to cheer one another on and offer up high fives or words of encouragement as they passed.  There was never a feeling to me of anyone being “better” than anyone else because of the distance that they were running.  Rather, it was just a big group of people who all love being out on the trails and wanted to celebrate that feeling.

The hills in the final few miles seemed to have grown and multiplied, as hills often due in the late stages of a race, but I hiked up them as best I could and was happy that I felt strong enough to run all of the flatter stretches at a good pace.  I managed to cruise in for a 5:12 finish, which put me exactly in the middle of the pack.  As this was my first trail marathon, I wasn’t sure what to expect for a finishing time, and I was pleasantly surprised with the results, especially after learning that the overall elevation hovered around 2500 ft.

The volunteers at this race were fantastic, as I’ve experienced at every Uberendurance event that I’ve run.  The aid stations were spaced about every 3-4 miles, and they contained not only the standard water and Gatorade, but all kinds of delicious treats that one could want along a race course.  Coke, Twizzlers, potato chips, oranges, and M&Ms were all available, along with my favorite treat – boiled potatoes that you could dip in salt.  There was also a delicious spread at the finish line, which included pasta, grilled cheese, potato pancakes, cookies, and more.  The low entrance fee meant that there were no t-shirts or medals passed out, but we did receive cool bottle openers as a finisher treat.

Stephan puts on top notch events, and this was another win.  I can’t say enough good things about this race.  In fact, I had so much fun that I’m thinking of adding Blues Cruise 50K to my fall lineup, as it features many of the same trails.  If you’re looking for an early season event, I highly recommend Naked Bavarian!