Week 1 of marathon training starts for real next week, but I got in an easy 3 miles on the treadmill yesterday afternoon. I had originally intended to get out in the morning, but it just didn’t happen and by the time work finished the temperature was 90 degrees with about 90% humidity. With all of that I figured doing the miles on the treadmill was preferable, if not very boring.
Yesterday evening however was much more interesting. I went to a clinic put on by Chris from the Human Performance Laboratory about training efficiently and how to gauge your nutrition intake based on your training. There were 2 mains points I was interested in from his talk.
Note: A lot of the points made came from Chris’s studies. My opinions will be in the Conclusion section.
One point I should make is Chris himself said his attitude about training has changed a lot now that he is coaching Cross Fit. I haven’t made up my mind about cross fit mainly because I’ve never tried it and not researched it enough. I’ve read some articles from people who swear by it and the people who love it seem pretty fanatical, but I’ve also read some articles that say for endurance athletes it can lead the way to injuries. Now whether or not that is more related to the Cross Fit Endurance or just the regular Cross Fit exercises I don’t know.
The main takeaway from this section of his talk was that your high intensity training sessions are your most important training sessions of your week. Seems pretty logical to me. The interesting point came when Chris started describing what happens when you start dropping volume or regularity of your workouts but keep intensity up, your fitness (he was showing graphs related to %VO2 max) stays up. As soon as you start dropping intensity you fitness also starts dropping. This is what happens when you taper, you drop the volume of your workouts, but you keep the intensity up leading up to the race. This way you maintain your fitness for you race. Something I’ll need to keep in mind for the marathon, as I did not keep up intensity in the final week of training for the half ironman.
There was a lot more he went into about intensity which could probably be a whole post of its own, so maybe I will dig more into that in the future.
One of the things he mentioned the do for nutrition was to take a baseline of what you are eating now. Don’t change anything in your diet, just keep a log of what you eat for 7-14 days. Don’t do it continuously as it starts to become a major pain and take over your eating habits, but do it for 1-2 weeks to get an idea of how much of what you are eating. Then do it again in 3-6 months to see how it has changed based on your training.
Also depending on what your goals are then your nutrition and calorie intake will be different. Mainly, you need to decide if you want to lose fat, or build muscle. From some of the studies he has done they determined that in order to lose fat you will also lose a bit of muscle. This is mainly because in order to burn that fat you need to take in less calories than you burn during the day (again a fairly logical point). This is actually going to into a slight state of starvation (his word, not mine but you get the idea) You can’t really build cells if you don’t have the calories to do it because you have burned them all.
If you want to build muscle you either need to intake the same amount of calories you burn throughout the day or slightly more so they can go towards building muscle, but the studies found that you can’t just build muscle. As you are taking in these calories you will also gain a small amount of fat.
It was a very interesting talk, and Chris obviously could have kept talking forever. I think all of us that were there also could have kept listening because in a nutshell I think all endurance athletes are a little crazy and get particularly interested/psyched/obsessive over anything that can help their training. While I don’t know how much of this will affect my training from here on out, I think at least being aware of it will help me. The calorie intake parts seems like common sense as does some of the points he made about intensity training. The talk went on for almost 90 minutes so I can only write about some otherwise no one would read all of this. It will certainly make me take my intensity workouts (intervals/hills/long runs) and my taper more seriously which can only be a good thing.
Thanks for reading!