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Bad Run… Was it Inadequate Recovery, The Paleo Diet, or Heat/ Dehydration?

Posted by on Jul 16, 2010 | 10 Comments
I went for a 9-plus mile run this morning with Jesse Scott (who’s new blog includes his tear-inducing inspirational story about his journey to becoming a runner… check it out and become a follower of his!).  The run was supposed to be my last fast trail run before Burning River.  My goal was to run at a sub-8:00 minute pace and hope to break 7:30.  We ended up with an 8:11 pace.  
The first two miles felt great!  According to the Garmin, we were routinely breaking 7:00s.  At about the three mile mark, I started feeling some fatigue.  We stopped at about mile five before beginning our second loop.  I was more tired than I should have been at that point.  Still, we proceeded to the second loop.
By mile eight, I was spent.  Our pace had slowed to about 9:30 or so as I fought to maintain some momentum.  At mile nine, I had to stop and walk a few hundred yards.  I felt worse than I do after 30 mile runs.  I had little energy to continue running.  Per my request, we skipped a small loop that would have brought our mileage to ten.  We eventually started running and finished the last quarter mile.  
I am always concerned when runs go bad.  I will analyze all the variables in an attempt to ascertain the cause.  This particular run had a few possible culprits, including:
  • Inadequate rest from the 68 miler we ran last Friday.  One week probably is not enough time to recover from a run of that distance.
  • Adjusting to the paleo diet.  I recently began experimenting with a paleo diet to see what effect it would have on my running.  The diet really didn’t change much other than cutting out grain-based products and processed sugary snacks.  The result has been a decrease in carbohydrate consumption due to the sheer volume of fruits and veggies I have to consume.  This decrease in carbs surely played a role in my fatigue.
  • Heat and slight dehydration.  The temps were approaching 82° with pretty high humidity.  This normally wouldn’t be an issue, but I was slightly dehydrated from the previous day.  
Any one of these factors could be the primary cause.  In all likelihood, each played at least some role.  Lesson to be learned… don’t mess with more than one variable at a time.  If something goes wrong, it will be difficult to correct.
In unrelated news, my Sport Kilt arrived today.  I’ve been lounging around the house for a few hours… it’s quite liberating!  I’m psyched to actually try it on a run… perhaps tomorrow.
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10 Comments

  1. Rob F.
    July 21, 2010

    They can't and probably shouldn't all be great workouts. I had one of these last night as well. Just write it off and move on.

  2. Jesse
    July 21, 2010

    I agree with Brian. Easing into a pace helps me quite a bit. I thought you were just kicking my ass and that I had to suck it up. The run went really similarly for me(if that makes you feel any better). It was humid, I hadn't slept much, ate no breakfast, I was trying out those "shoe" contraptions people wear, and the 68 miler still making me feel crappy. Maybe if I picked up a weight once in a while, I could recover as fast as you do.

  3. Tuck
    July 17, 2010

    There is definitely an adjustment period to the low-carb paleo-style diets.

    Mossrunning mentions the Paleolithic Revolution podcast. I think he means Paleolithic Solution. Robb Wolf of the PS podcast has a post here about the Paleo diet and adjusting to it, that might help you out. It also discusses long-term performance on the Paleo diet.

    http://www.norcalsc.com/index.php/post/norcal_nutrition_are_we_crazy/

  4. seangavor
    July 17, 2010

    my guess is the humidity. how much fluid did you take in? how much came out? was there swampass?

  5. shel
    July 17, 2010

    so… paleo diet. were you eating anything on the run, or munching on celery? that could have something to do with it. i am off the wagon right now, but for 2 months lived basically grain and processed food free. just fruits, veg, dairy and meat and i ran and felt better than i ever have, running suffered not one bit, mileage increased, quick recovery etc. i vote fatigue from the long run. nothing to analyze, time to taper. you will not increase your fitness from here on out, it is too late. do some shorter speed runs (3 or so miles), a couple of nighttime hikes in the woods and you're good to go. sleep a lot, eat a reasonable and healthy amount. don't drink alcohol. baby yourself.

  6. Jon Gilchrist
    July 17, 2010

    with it being summertime in houston, I tend to dial my long runs back quite a bit, especially when I'm running on electrolytes and water. I had a similar run last sunday – no pop…and I just couldn't get a good flow rollin….I was dehydrated for sure…blah

  7. Jamie
    July 16, 2010

    I don't know about you, but heat gets me every time. When it's hot out I have to scale my exertion *way* back or it just kills me.

  8. mossrunner
    July 16, 2010

    I have been listening to the Paleolithic Revolution podcast recently. Those guys say the first 4-6 weeks can just make you feel crappy. Also, they do not have much great advice for fueling over 1+ hours runs. Performance for them is based on Crossfit routines. It would be great to hear from others who have more experience with the high protein/mixed carb source diet.

  9. I Pull 400 Watts
    July 16, 2010

    Yeah doing sub 7's when you were aiming for doing 8 minute miles may have caused some of the fatigue as well.

    Also, I only eat fruits and veggies and have seen nothing but good things come from it :)

  10. Brian
    July 16, 2010

    For me at least, I find that it helps to start out with a couple easy miles rather than launching right into it and trying to immediately hit a pace… even more so when tired legs are a factor. I learned that one trying to keep up with the teenagers in a local running club. When the pace starts slow I can floor it with them later in the run, but if the pace starts high I end up dropping back to a slower group.