A Fantastic 16 Mile Run

Yesterday afternoon, I went on a 16 mile run – my longest yet – and it felt freakin’ fantastic! The day started off cold (in the mid 30’s), we even got a few light snow flurries in the morning. I bundled up with 3 layers of shirts and long running pants. I also started off wearing gloves, but took those off after about 2 miles once I got warmed up.

This is a beautiful run, right through the middle of Anchorage, from my house near the east side of town, all the way to Westchester Lagoon on the far west side next to the inlet.

Here’s the map of my run from RunKeeper:

The trail winds through trees most of the way, which makes for a lovely run, although that also brings its’ own set of hazards:

I was the second person to come across the pair of moose munching on brush, and while everyone else just stared and tried to decide what to do, I snaked my way through the woods on the opposite side of the trail, leaving plenty of room between me and the moose! I was on my way back home at this point, with about 6 miles left to go, so turning around wasn’t really an option for me!

All in all (even with the run-in with the moose), this was a really great run. My legs are definitely tired today, but it’s a good tired – knowwhatImean?

What a Difference 2 Weeks Makes

Compare this with 2 weeks ago, when I went for a 13.5 mile run, and felt like I was going to die. My body was running on fumes. I had to take lots of walking breaks. There were a few decent size hills that I didn’t even attempt to run up. After I finally made it home, for about 30-45 minutes I felt like I was going to puke.

Yesterday, I felt on top of the world. I ran the entire 16 miles – even up the hills that I had to walk before. Yes, my legs were getting tired by the end, but my whole body didn’t feel run down like it had 2 weeks ago – I still had fuel in the tank, and could have kept on going if I wanted to.

So what was the difference between yesterday and 2 weeks ago? In a word – carbs.

2 weeks ago, I was near the start of the 30-day Primal Blueprint Challenge, where I was eating a pretty strict primal/paleo diet, which means very few carbs. I’m still eating that way now for the most part, though for about 2 days before this run, I did have some extra carbs as an experiment to see what effect it would have on my run.

  • Saturday morning I had my world-famous oatmeal pancakes for breakfast, topped with fresh berries
  • Saturday night was my sister-in-law’s birthday party, where I ate mostly primal/paleo, though I did have some pasta – and just a bit of birthday cake and ice cream 🙂
  • Sunday morning I had oatmeal for breakfast, topped with almonds, pecans, and a scoop of protein powder

That’s really all I ate that was “off plan”. Those extra bit of carbs in the days leading up to my long run made all the difference in the world. I’ve got about a week and a half of the challenge left. During that time, I’m going to be looking at other ways I can augment my primal/paleo diet to provide more fuel for my runs. The book The Paleo Diet for Athletes was recommended to me, which was written by Loren Cordain, author of “the” paleo book, The Paleo Diet, so that definitely looks like a good resource. I’ll also have my eye out for any other good information on fueling for paleo athletes.

What’s your favorite thing(s) to eat in the days leading up to a long run (or other intense exercise)?

13 thoughts on “A Fantastic 16 Mile Run

  1. Keep in mind that I am in fact currently cooking dinner in the form of beans and brown rice with every veggie in my fridge….mmmmm, carbs.

    I really like oatmeal, any slow releasing carb with fiber (i have not fiber “issues”) Some puddings from the Thrive are awesome, pureed dates and bananas and things, buckwheat pancakes, the list goes on, but you get the idea.

    I’m so glad the run went better, fueling is so important. Are you eating on your runs at all? But then again, you went longer than your half with no bonk right? You’re becoming a fat burning machine!

  2. I’m not running that far right now, so I haven’t run into any issues so far. Love the moose pic. Craziest stuff I’ve run into are elk and a herd of wild turkey crossing the road in front of me.

  3. I believe if you read the primal literature (namely Mark’s Daily Apple), you’ll find that he caveats the low carb thing to say that those still choosing to do high level cardio benefit from extra carbs. It has something to do with glycogen levels, though honestly I don’t remember much more than that as I’m not a runner and didn’t pay all that close attention.
    Nice work though 🙂

  4. Yikes, Brandon. That is impressive. Totally amazing.

    I’m glad you’re listening to your body and fueling up before long runs–and that’s certainly a LONG run. My goodness!

  5. Carbs are good for athletes, especially runners. I’m glad you had a great run! I feel like all I do is eat carbs in one form or another, but maybe I’m not doing such a hot job of it… Awesome pictures, btw. 🙂

  6. ok I hate to say this as my comment—but it is honestly what came to mind after reading your post:

    FREAKIN AMAZING.

  7. Brandon,

    Earlier this month when you posted about following the Paleo diet my thoughts were 1) Cool! 2) Wonder how that will affect his endurance? and 3) Wonder if it addresses the problems of ketosis?

    I know from my own bodybuilding adventures that when I switch off my macronutrient intake from carbs to low-carbs (regardless of source), I have an initial period of lethargy before my metabolism sky rockets. However, I would never be able to perform endurance tasks on that kind of diet.

    Historically, I believe multiple American explorers (Lewins & Clark) tracing through the Lousinanna purchase had a lot of trouble with their diets that sound very close to the paleo one suggested.

  8. Brandon, you are awesome!!! And Alaska is sooo beautiful!

    What do I eat before a long run? Well, sadly I haven’t had any long runs lately – wah!!! 🙁

  9. Wow, 16 miles is such an accomplishment! I’m especially impressed that you did it in the cold weather!

    Before my big runs (which are, granted, half that) I like to have some complex proteins, such as whole wheat toast and peanut butter.

  10. I think I’m still amazed that you can actually run into a moose while running.
    All we have around here are white-tail deer. And even then, only out in the sticks. 🙂

  11. You know I eat the same way – Started eating some Gu before the run and I have increased my fruit intake. Beer also, oddly enough, helps. The pics make me very jealous, but we did have a cold front come through that dropped us into the low 80’s.

  12. Carbs are great fuel for runners. My problem is I use it as an excuse to eat more than I actually need for ‘fuel’.

    16 miles? That’s effin awesome.

  13. You’ve gotta love the carbs sometimes! Great run and I love the photos.

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