Hi everyone! My apologizes in advance for the length of this question... I've been scouring websites looking for some information to assist me in training for my first marathon. I have done a half marathon already which I loved doing and I do weight-lifting consistently. I understand "chronic cardio" is not the best thing to do but running is like therapy to me. I feel great and I get that runners high which can't be beat but I wanted a challenge. I signed up for a marathon which is in 6 months and I am trying to get a training plan together. I have been eating paleo around 1.5 years, excluding a splurge here or there on the weekends and I would prefer to drop some body fat to make the race easier. So currently, I eat 2 eggs in the morning with 1/4 avocado, 1/2 cup of sweet potato, 4oz chicken with veggies, balsamic, and another 1/4 avocado, a banana or apple before an afternoon workout, and usually chicken with veggies at dinner and sometimes a little more sweet potato (i know its a lot of chicken but its easy to cook and its cheap for me), then I either have a spoonful of sunflower see butter or a glass of white wine (on occasion) the weekends I tend to splurge more but I stick to paleo or gluten free foods. I'm 5'6 weigh 144 around 24-25% body fat. I would like to get to 18-20% body fat.. so here are my questions
1. What strength workouts would benefit me best in training for a marathon and should I do them 1 or 2 days a week to maintain muscle mass?
2. How many sprint workouts should to improve my performance?
3. If I am eating paleo and training, what would you suggest to foods I should focus on eating before and after workouts.. higher fat? higher protein? higher carbs? I've seen different posts on a higher carb (sweet potato) regime or a higher fat regime
4. What supplements would be best during the long runs including the race itself that are paleo friendly and portable? I used to use GU gels or gatorade chews.
5. Cortisol build-up... most of my body fat lies in my abdominal region.. I can't seem to get rid of it.. Are there any tips for reducing adominal fat (not spot-training) or any tips on minimizing cortisol build-up from long endurance training?
6. I would like to lose from 5-7% body fat to run faster.. any tips on losing weight during endurance training? My appetite is usually insatiable after a good weight lifting session.
7. Any other tips on nutrition, fueling, training, etc. for a marathon.
I would love to do the entire 6 month block on training solely on a paleo diet. From what I read, the performance and recovery benefits are fantastic. I'm going to get the Paleo Diet for Athletes but was hoping for more specific advice. Thank you so much and sorry for the crazy amount of questions!
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A couple of thoughts:
1. & 2. I think that's fairly well answered in your other question. The training regimen I linked to incorporates a Track workout (or Sprint/HIIT workout -- note this is the colloquial HIIT, almost no one uses the term accurately), an interval workout (which is where your endurance adaptations come from), and a long run (which is mostly to support the mental portion of running that far). It also incorporates three "recovery" cross-training days where I suggest you complete 2 using bike/elliptical (to prevent overuse) followed by weight training, and the third just weight training. Using three weight training days, three run days, and one rest day should be sufficient to get you to cross the finish line in a respectable time frame without over stressing your body. If you were going for a BQT, I would drop weight training to two days, and go with a much lower impact weight training schedule.
3. I do not believe in prescriptive dietary plans. Eat the same way you do now. Will you need more carbs? Some people benefit from it, but people like Tim Olson prove that it's not necessary. Focus on eating clean, whole foods and make sure you are eating enough. The rest is just gravy. (note that does not mean you should be eating copious amounts of gravy, that was just a folksy saying)
4. Most research points to 50g carbs per hour for endurance racing. I would not worry about consuming gu-gels during your race as this is not going to become a major part of your diet. Energy chews area good option too (http://www.optimumnutrition.com/products/amino-energy-chewables-p-281.html). Pre-race I would stick with bananas and coconut water. I love them, and they can be used throughout the race if you can stomach the sweet. Immediately post race I suggest a protein shake, and something small (like a fruit or some nut butter). Then after your stomach settles down take in a complete meal.
5. Do not assume that a little extra "pouch" is all cortisol. We all have different bodies. Healthy women will tend to carry a little extra, this is healthy and normal. Reducing your total mileage and incorporating heavy weights will help reduce cortisol if that is the problem.
6. At an elite level, it makes sense for an endurance runner to maintain a low body weight. But these athletes are doing this at their detriment. They understand the risk (for the most part) and are purposefully accepting the risk to achieve elite status. This is akin to NFL players and concussions. They know what they are getting into. For the rest of us, it does not make sense to try to lose weight (assuming one is not obese -- which you are not) to improve performance. Rather, dialing in your training will have a significant and profound first order effect. You will likely lose some body fat throughout the process, but I would not make that the goal. If your goal is to drop body fat, I would not recommend running a marathon.
7. You are stressing your body beyond it's normal operating level. You need to really focus on eating quality foods. However, it is unlikely that any whole-foods diet will provide you with sufficient vitamins and minerals. I would also supplement with daily, post-workout protein shakes and daily multi-vitamin.
First of all, I've got to tell you.... I'm not a runner. I was a reluctant in my younger days as conditioning for other sports. Yeah I got the runner's high but, in hindsight, I think that HIIT (not even called that back then) was my real enjoyment.
I've done a LOT of reading on paleo and done a LOT of self-experimentation, so I know what works & doesn't work for me.
Mark Sisson's (Primal Blueprint) point of view tends to align well with my experience & results, so I tend to recommend his posts as a starting point for people trying to achieve something that I may not be expert or experienced at.
I'm not a huge fan of marathoning but you;re young & it's something you'd like to tackle. So rather than attempt to disuade you, here are some resources that will hopefully make your endeavor more successful and safer.
And this is an interesting website about BMI and waist to height ratios (a better model, imo)
Too many questions for me to answer all
& if you're female