fueling: U R doin it wrong

I made a huge mistake yesterday morning. In my enthusiasm to pack some serious training into the next two weeks, I under-slept, over-trained and under-ate, coming out of a busy weekend and sailing right into my work week. And I felt like shit.

The scenario: get in a 4-miler training run and some serious swimming before work. Eat: one mini whole grain bagel with one tablespoon of peanut butter. Total: 200 calories. Run: two easy 10-minute intervals. Burn: 150ish calories. That would have been perfect, especially with a small recovery snack. Some fruit or a boiled egg, perhaps?

But nooooo. I had to go straight to my swim with no extra food. In my own defense, I was worried about having too much food on my stomach during the swim. I burp a lot when I swim, even if I haven’t eaten anything for 90 minutes before! So. Swim: 40 minutes, appx 1100 yards, drag self through drills. Burn appx 500 calories. Pat self on back for being crazy person.

I had a fine run but a terrible swim. Sure there’s all that stuff about your body having glycogen storage, but it doesn’t take a nutritionist to see that consuming 200 calories for the morning does not properly fuel a body to then burn over 600.  Worst part is that I felt terrible all day. Ravenously hungry, a little tired, somewhat cranky, and with a small headache to boot.

I’m not complaining, but I should know better, and that’s my point. It’s hard to fit it all in, but you have to think smart about when you are doing your workouts. If you aren’t prepared, you may compromise future training, or at least screw up your day.

I’m still learning a lot about fueling, but this is what I know to be true. Fuel smart before you work out, and if you’re doing something for 90 minutes or more, you will probably need to fuel during your workout. That goes for hydration, too. Hydration is a round the clock activity for me. If I’m dehydrated the night before a run, guzzling 30 ounces of water right before doesn’t give me what I need. Instead, I get a stomach ache and may get stuck needing a bathroom. Finally, recovery fuel is super important. Have a small carb or protein right after a tough workout and you can prevent muscle fatigue in your next work out. True story!

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