Week 2 of Marathon Training. The Goodness of Carbs. Also: Hummingbirds!

I’m two weeks in into my marathon training, so in this post I’m going to recap how the second week went, as well as share with you a secret of my new favorite energy source! Hint hint: it’s been around all along!

This week went by very quickly, and fairly uneventful. My running mileage isn’t very high these days – since I replace 2 days of short runs on my marathon training plan with strength training at the gym, it’s unlikely that I’ll hit really high numbers. (I do, however, run to and from my gym, so it adds about 2.5 miles of running to my gym days.) I followed this strategy last year when I was training for my first marathon, and I was very grateful for all of my strength training on race day: it turns out that being strong all over helps big time in a long race, especially in its later stages.

My right ankle isn’t bothering me anymore! Earlier I was debating between taking a break from running for a week or two to give it some rest – or continuing running while wearing a flexible ankle brace… and the stubborn person in me won: I kept on running with the ankle brace. My usual advice to people having some issues while running is to take a break from it to heal, and as you see, I didn’t follow my own advice here 🙁 I’m very grateful to my lucky stars that this worked out for me without adding more harm to my body.

On Sunday I ran my first 10-miler in at least a couple months. I’ve got to admit that the heat and humidity of August mornings in South Alabama have been wearing me out quite a bit lately… My fastest time for this particular 10 mile route is about 5 minutes better than what I did this time (my average pace this Sunday was 9:14 min/mile, and I was running nonstop). I’m not going to get discouraged by a slower time: after all, it is recommended that we run our long runs nice and slow because we are training our endurance. As coach Peter Gavuzzi put it, “Three hours slow is better than two hours fast.” I’m still a few weeks away from having to run for three hours, but I’ll keep these words in mind.

By the way, last week was the first time when I got to see a hummingbird out in the wild! Rob and I witnessed a few of them on our walk in Fairhope, and I’ve never seen them before!

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(Yep, he’s there – look in the center!)

These cute little guys were drinking their nectar and playing around – or fighting for territory while looking playful.

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Speaking of nectar… My eating this week was, well, still vegan (I made a commitment, right?), experimental (new recipes to come!), and had an emphasis on foods with lots of good carbs to help me run strong. I am so glad that my plant-based vegan diet is very carb-friendly: after all, carbs are what helps athletes keep going! Carbs have gotten a lot of bad rap in the past few decades because of their presence in highly processed refined foods. But there is a different side to this coin! Plant based diet teaches you how to embrace the most natural, unrefined sources of carbs – whole grains, potatoes, root vegetables, fruit, etc.

A lot of masterminds of the whole food plant based dietary approach have emphasized the goodness of carbohydrate-rich diet. Among them is doctor John McDougall, M.D. Doctor McDougall is so fond of carbs that he named his approach the starch-based diet. He recommends aiming for 80% carbohydrates, 10% protein, and 10% fat in your diet. Sounds crazy to you? He knows what he’s talking about: he’s been on this diet himself for many years, while a lot of his high-meat-consumption-advocating peers are not around anymore.

 

Since I’ve made the switch, I’ve incorporated a lot of new grains into my cooking that I never considered trying before: barley, farro, kamut, millet, not to say about the already tried-and-true brown rice and quinoa (the latter is technically a seed, not a grain). In addition to healthy carbs, whole grains have quite a bit of protein (1 cup of cooked quinoa has 8 grams) and an array of vitamins and other nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and fiber. Thanks to fiber, carbohydrates in whole grains are released into our bloodstream slower than those in highly refined foods, so we never get a sugar spike followed by a crash, but rather have a sustained level of energy after eating whole grains. Kiss those mid-afternoon energy slumps goodbye!

So next time someone tells you that carbs are bad for you, just let them watch how much energy you have without ever burning down!

Stay tuned!

-Alina

About Alina

Alina first made a switch to a vegan diet in 2013 to optimize her athletic performance as a marathon runner. Being vegan eventually opened her eyes on the issues of animal welfare, environmental protection, human rights and feminism. Alina hopes that her blog will help its readers on their path to making this world a better place.
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