My Performance Tells Me It’s Worth It
Have you ever felt a lack of “pop” during a workout? It’s not a feeling of not being able to finish, or bad. It’s a sense that no matter how hard the body is pushed it just won’t reach the flying feeling that comes with a great workout. The lack of pop really rings true the “work” in workout.
We all have those days; and there are a number of reasons that can contribute to those days. I recently had this type of experience while vacationing in Anecortes, Washington. I was waking well before anyone woke for my runs so I could return in hope of little notice that I had ever left. Add to this the fact that running in Anecortes is a stretch from my flat Indianapolis training ground. On one of my runs I decided to pay attention to the distance of one climb in particular. It was a 1.2 mile stretch. Both the climbs and descents felt relentless at times.
Each morning I would wake knowing that I should avoid looking at the split time on my watch and just enjoy the freedom of running in the fresh, clean, crisp, Northwest oceanside air. It was heavenly no matter how early the hour or the climbs. After several days of this my legs began to accumulate a general fatigue. Not sore; just fatigue.
It finally came! The grand floating feeling that comes with the type of run I wish would never have to come to an end. It’s this type of run that is in large part the foundation of why I love to run. Splits would ring off at a faster pace with each mile. The climbs did not seem to be so demoralizing. I finally got a slice of the pie I had been craving.
So what was it that made the difference? Could it have been a more restful night of sleep? Was I getting used to the challenging terrain?
Carbohydrates. Yes, carbohydrates. I know, I know…. Everyone out there is sharing how detrimental carbohydrates are in the diet. They claim carbohydrates are not needed for performance. Based on my personal experiences, I beg to differ.
In thinking back I was enjoying the amazing farm fresh berries, local fish, and my usual love for greens and salads. These are all wonderful choices, but relatively low carb food choices. What I was lacking was an appropriate carbohydrate load. The night before the glorious run I emphasized eating more bread with the meal. I didn’t hold back my current apple addiction (I had to swing by the grocery store for more). And as a nightcap, I shared ice cream with my boys that our wonderful host left behind for us.
I don’t feel I have to bloat myself with carbohydrates daily, but for an endurance runner like myself, carbohydrates serve fantastic role in performance. Low carbohydrate extremes can leave the body deprived of valuable energy. Since glucose is the body’s primary source of energy, stored in the form of glycogen from carbohydrates, it doesn’t make sense for endurance athlete like myself to deny such a valuable fuel source day-after-day.
When it comes to training, carbohydrates are very much a part of the equation. Could I get by without? Sure, to a point. I would never trade cutting carbohydrates for the ridiculously amazing feeling that comes with an awesome run. I’m sticking with my carbohydrate-rich diet for fueling. My performance tells me it’s worth it.