Sunday, September 11, 2011

Running is gluten-free

Well, I missed Wednesday's running post and Friday's gluten-free post, so why not combine them for a Sunday post?

The comeback trail from a hamstring injury is slow.  I still have tightness and some residual soreness in my hamstring, but I'm finding that if I just relax and don't push the pace when I run, it doesn't get any worse.  In fact, my hamstring feels better after a run, I guess because the muscle is all warmed up.  That's not the problem. I don't mind going slow, as long as I get to keep running.

The thing that has been bothering me since my injury is that my legs feel like lead on every run.  You may recall that I took a few weeks off and rested.  During that time, I also changed my diet.  I am now grain-free and sugar-free, and with that, my carb intake has naturally gone much lower. I didn't realize how much it would change my energy levels.  I feel great most of the time, but when I exercise, I'm dragging.

In the past I didn't think too much about carb-loading before exercise.  I mean, it just happened naturally.  I was eating grains like rice and corn at every meal and snack.  So I naturally had a lot of easily accessible fuel available for each run.

Fast forward to my new, grain-free existence.  Now I'm fueling my body with protein and fats, and let me tell you, it's hard!  Carbs are easy fuel for the body, but protein and fat take a lot of work to assimilate.  No wonder I'm dragging...

So I tried a little experiment before Saturday's four-mile run.  I ate carbs.  Not a lot, mind you.  But I made the effort to eat something for quick energy, which amounted to a grain-free biscuit with honey.  I know, right?  I went all out!  And here's what happened: I felt good. I had a great run. And I didn't feel like I was running through pudding.  It was, in a word, AWESOME.

Now I get to have some fun experimenting with paleo-friendly carbs before runs.  There are sweet potatoes and raisins in my future.  Maybe even some coconut flour breads. All gluten-free, grain-free, and (mostly) sugar-free. I must say, I'm looking forward to it!  I really didn't like running with lead legs...

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