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No energy for running

So, my story may be a bit different than most. I am an ultra runner, 10+ 50 mile runs, and few 100's under my belt, but had a slight injury in the fall, went through the holiday glutton fest, and put on about 15lbs!! I know. I was pissed at myself... but it is what it is... so I have been on the Slow-Carb Diet for about a week now and seeing great results... already dropped 4lbs.

My only issue is that my energy is non-existant. I can run about 3 miles and feel okay (a little slower than normal - but I am a bit heavier than 4 months ago), but anymore distance and I can barely stand up... dizzy... my legs feel like 500lb bricks... etc, The only other times I have ever felt this way are 60 miles into a run in which I had fueled improperly and gone into ketosis. I'm assuming this is what is going on simply because I've used up excess glycogen stores (the point of the diet) simply from the diet. So I'm only burning fat (again the point of the diet) instead of glycogen or carbs, which makes you feel like crap.

So my question is this: Are there any recommendations on any tweaks in the diet? Are there any carbs that I *could* take the night prior to a long run, or just before a run to boost glycogen stores temporarily? I'm only planning on implementing this diet for about 6 weeks (or until I get back to 3lbs above race weight), so maybe only another couple of weeks or so if it keeps going good. I love to run and it's what keeps me sane, and even on a low week average about 35 miles per week (120 on a high week). This week, on the diet, I have done 10 miles and it has about killed me... and averaging about a 10 minute pace... a couple of weeks before the diet I did 14 miles in 7:50 pace in a trail run in the mountains... so I can say that this is a result of the diet with no hesitation.

I love the idea of this diet, and it's actually super easy and enjoyable... I just have to have energy enough to do what I love to do, so would love to know a "fix" to this situation. I'm assuming that this diet was not intended for people doing 12+ hours of running per week. So maybe a certain amount of certain carbs? I kind of at a loss. I may experiment a little and see if I can maintain the weight loss rate and still be able to run as much as I'd like... (granted, the running will help the weight loss as well...)

Thanks for any help!

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You are absolutely right in suspecting you're hitting the glycogen wall.

In doing a little extra credit homework for this diet I was researching the Cyclic Ketogenic Diet on bodybuilding forums and I believe the protocol I found there was that carbs were OK pre-workout.

Personally, I don't have any carbs, but I believe that if your workout is going to last >1hr (mine are usually an hour exactly), your body will start to use muscle mass which is definitely not good.

Here are my thoughts on your situation: If you're running for an hour or less and you're not trying to break any records than just go all protein. But if you're going for more than an hour or want peak performance, I don't think it will hurt to carb up pre-workout (but not on the day or two after cheat day when your glycogen levels should already be pretty well stocked). I'm pretty sure any carbs you do have will end up going straight to replenishing your glycogen stores. These will, in turn, be depleted again during your exercise. I would also keep track of my BF%, so I can watch that I'm not losing lean mass.

On a different note though, have you thought of switching to interval training like Tim recommends in his chapter on distance running while you are on the diet? You might end up with better times than you used to have. I just like jogging/biking and I stick with the all protein so I've never tried it.

I think you can find more on cardio/slow carb if you google: carbs "cyclic ketogentic diet" cardio low intensity training

or something like that. Have fun.

  • Pinky commented Apr 2nd 2012:

    I started last week as well on the diet need 16 lbs to lose ...lost 4 already .I run marathons and also found my training runs this last week slower than I am used to ex: 10km run 46 min now takes me 51 mins ....last two mornings I go for a 8 and 10 mile I'll have two pieces of toast with my eggs and meat and gel packs every 45 mins into my long runs...made a big difference more sustained enery and still seeing the weight loss....

  • Pierrebuz commented Jul 21st 2012:

    @Pinky: sorry for really late reply, but that's good to know. This subject brings my geek out. I'm not really sure why. Maybe it's the idea that something predicted is so quantifiabley obvious in practice. You can see the diet in action.

    On the flip side, one of the worst decisions of my life was to climb a mountain with my glycogen depleted and no carbs in my bag lol. (actually, I did have 2 or 3 light beers)

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This isn't an answer, but if you are running between 35 and 120 miles a week - why are you looking to reduce your carbs? You should be burning plenty of calories. If you want to reduce your BF or lose weight, even a slight reduction in your calorie intake would show results within a few weeks.

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