Here are the results of my 30 day primal challenge that i forwarded to Marks Daily Apple...
Wow! The month seems to have flown on by without me realizing. The main reason I hadn’t noticed was because nothing has really changed since the challenge finished up. I have continued along eating what I have been eating while following the primal challenge and even though I have given myself the freedom to choose to eat whatever I wish I still choose more primal options. I can’t seem to bring myself to eat the usual processed sugars, pasta, rice, bread etc that was a big part of my diet prior to the 30 day challenge.
My diet prior to the challenge was the typical of the endurance athlete diet consisting of cereal and toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, pasta and rice based dinners and throw in the several snacks spaced throughout the day that I consumed when feeling hungry or prior to or after a run. Snacks of course were of the processed variety and included sports bars, muesli bars, meal replacement snacks, pretzels, chips, cookies, chocolate etc.
With the challenge my diet drastically changed to include more fruit and vegetables but the biggest change was in the amount of protein and fats that I consumed at every meal.
While losing 10 pounds was an added result of the challenge, what I really discovered (almost day one) was that my energy levels where high throughout the day and replacing the fluctuations of low energy periods following my usual high carbohydrate feeds. I also noticed a reduction in post-run muscle soreness and enhanced day-to-day recovery. My legs almost felt like they were buzzing.
The last week:
Starting weight: 172 pounds
End weight: 163 pounds
Exercise total: 49 miles (including race 26.2 miles)
Marathon finishing time: 2:57:10
I followed the old school carb depletion-loading scheme which was popular amongst marathon runners a few years back. It made following the primal challenge easier during the depletion stage but I had to make some small departures in the form of added oatmeal, sweet potato and additional fruit (mainly bananas and dried fruit) in the days leading up to the marathon. I viewed oatmeal and sweet potato as being a good compromise.
Of course during the depletion stage the main challenge was getting in my runs and resting up for the race on Sunday. Actually stopping myself from going on long runs on the trails was my biggest challenge.
I stopped focusing on weight goals this week with my whole focus on being ready to go on race day. My weight probably dipped a little during the first four days when I eliminated nearly all carbohydrates but during the 24 hours leading up to the race I tried to top up my glycogen stores by adding in enough carbohydrates. The day before this ended up being around 600-700g of total carbohydrates.
Race day came and I woke 4 hours early for a good feed of oatmeal w/ honey, a banana and some apple juice (usually I eat two English muffins with jam and PB before a race). Two hours before I started drinking some sports drink (for the electrolytes) and just before the race I consumed the first of five gels. On the race I either drank water or sports drink.
I felt great at the start. Well rested and ready to run fast but by about 9 miles in I was thinking that I tapered a little short and was still carrying some leg fatigue. It didn’t get any worse and I was able to embrace the pain and fatigue over the final 6 miles to bring home a sub 3 hour marathon.
One mistake I did make was that I probably didn’t eat enough carbohydrates during the post-run window to help speed up my recovery in the days after and I suffered a little more than usual. Will rectify next time around.
As an endurance athlete it makes me aware that I still have a lot more to learn. While much of my learning will come from sites like this one and from books like the Paleo Diet for Athletes (although haven’t read it yet I plan on buying it) as an example I think much of the learning will take place while experimenting and finding what works best for me. So looking beyond this challenge I am going to continue on and for those that are interested I will continue to post my results and discoveries on my blog. It will be an interesting journey as I get back into running what I hope will be 100+ mile weeks with my end goal of running a 2:40 marathon.
Thanks everyone for sharing your results during this challenge. It has been great that to read how others are going and knowing that other people are reading with interest or even taking part in their own personal challenges makes sticking to my challenge easier. The changes I have made to my diet have been taken up by friends and they are all experiencing good results also.
Good luck everyone.
And finally for those who have stumbled across my blog I encourage you to give it a go. Take it from me it works. I was able to lose some weight while training intensely and long in my build up to running a marathon. Which I completed successfully and achieved my goal of breaking 3 hours.
For others who are already following paleo (primal) eating and undertaking endurance training and activities feel free to email me at primalrunner at gmail dot com to ask questions and to exchange ideas and information. I will try and post regularly but I am starting a new job in a few weeks which may mean less time at the computer and thankfully more time to do what I enjoy most which is to train.
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