Tag Archives: paleo

Run Less and Still PR: CrossFit for Distance Runners

3 hours of running and hamming it up for the photographer

When a CrossFitter calls me crazy, I take it as a compliment.

And I have to chuckle.

These are the same people who will finish a WOD with bloody hands and broken bones. They hate burpees but still do hundreds of them–even if they’ve just had major surgery.

To be called crazy by this group is high praise–so I just smile and agree.

I am crazy: crazy for challenges, for living and feeling, for new experiences, for new milestones, for never quitting when the world goes to shit.

Three weeks ago I decided to sign up for a marathon for fun.

This was my 7th marathon, and in the past, I would run 5 days a week, building to a weekly total of 45-50 miles before the taper. My short runs were anywhere from 4-6 miles, medium runs of 8-14 miles, and long runs of 15-20.

This year was different, however. With only 3 weeks to prepare, I managed one decent long run (18 miles) and one medium run (12 miles). I did one short run of 6 miles and one medium run of 8. That’s it.

Except for CrossFit, 5 days a week.

Last year, I did CrossFit 2-3 times a week and ran a LOT. This year, I rarely miss a WOD, and run very little outside of class.

The result is that this year, I had a PR of 4:05:51, which is 15 minutes faster than the year prior.

You read that right: 15 minutes faster.

Wait, you might say…what ELSE have you been doing?

I changed my diet this year: 1) I didn’t eat cheese before the race. Cheese causes inflammation in my joints, so if I eat it (or a lot of dairy) I’ll have knee problems while running. 2) No nuts! Nuts make my body hurt. I can’t explain it other than that. 3) I adhered to a strict diet, particularly the week before the race, eating only lean meats, veggies and no sugar whatsoever. However, I DID eat toasted marshmallows the night before the race, but my kids assured me it was considered carbo-loading, and was thus ok.

Carbo loading with Noah

Carbo loading with Noah

The only mistake I made during this race was to wear socks that I’d not tested in training. The compression socks were great for my calves (which had been tweaky during my long run) but they were too slippery, and on the downhills, my toes slid into the front of my shoes. When I pulled off my shoes at the finish line, my toenails were blue. (The race doctor said they’ll probably fall off, but that I’m tough, so I can handle it–this from an Austrian is definitely high praise, even if he wasn’t a CrossFitter).Imst2

Aside from my nightmarishly blue toenails, I did a lot of things right.

  • I left my watch at home. With no numbers to scold me, I could stop and do air squats whenever I felt like it. Best of all, I was relaxed!
  • I didn’t crumple at kilometer 30. In the past, around mile 18 or between kilometers 28-32, I start to get weary. This time, I changed my mindset: Instead of thinking “Oh, hell, this is where I bonk, I thought, “Wow! I’m almost done!” Before I knew it, I was crossing the bridge to Imst.
  • I wore a hat. It was an unassuming green sun hat sitting on a shelf, and I bought it on a whim. When the sun came out blazing, my eyes were shaded and my head was cool. I tend to WHITHER in the sun, so this hat saved the day.
  • I visualized kettlebell swings. During the uphill portions, I found myself breathing the same way I do during kettle bell swings. I thought about the WOD where we went heavy and did 100 of those suckers; and so, I kept visualizing myself doing KBS 100 at a time. The breathing was the same and even the muscle groups I used were the same: my core, my hamstrings and my ass. It all worked together on the uphills so that instead of fading, I ended up passing people. I could literally hear my coach’s voice saying, “Do NOT set those kettle bells down! Do NOT stop!” So I kept going when other people were walking. They might’ve been faster on the straightaways, but I was certainly better conditioned because of CrossFit.
  • I had fun. When the race is over, the bling doesn’t matter, it’s the experience that gets ingrained in your soul. What I remember is the empty village with one old lady on her balcony clapping for ME–and how she LIT UP when I waved back and smiled. I was running for her, along with the many others who’ve nestled into the cozy part of my soul.

Overall, it was an excellent day, an excellent race and an excellent run. I finished, smiling and laughing with my kids, and afterwards I soaked my feet in the Freibad. Later, I had three gluten-free beers, two steaks and a bag of peanut m&ms. My reward.

The kids took some silly pictures that I will cherish forever.

Imst3

 

Imst4

Our first camping trip.

My best race ever.

A new way of marathon training.

A new way of life.

As Rob says: It’s all good. 

 

At the finish line!

At the finish line!

*Official results: I placed second in my age group and in the top half for women overall.

Next stop: Switzerland!!

 

 

 

 

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Strength and Nutrition Challenge

keri rack pull

As if life weren’t challenging enough, I signed up for the strength & nutrition challenge at the box. This “stupid-easy” challenge has turned out to be a battle of wills between my healthy new self and the slothful old self who occasionally wakes up, yawns, and inhales a portion of pommes mit mayo.

I blame it on the health clinic.

You would think a place where getting people ‘healthy’ would have more fresh options besides bananas and chocolate.

I have to credit the little cafe though–it’s probably the only place in Germany that doesn’t sell alcohol, though that might be due to its proximity to the drug rehab facility.

But you can buy your cigarettes, schnitzel, pommes, soda and ice cream.

My new self would carry an emergency pack of tuna in her purse; but I haven’t become as organized as I’d like to be. Like spores, my ‘to-do’ list asexually reproduces every time I turn my back. I don’t even bother writing things on my calendar any more until after the fact.

Thus, I am failing the challenge so far.

However, I have learned that this nutrition thing really does work. My worst WODs this past month were ALWAYS after I’d been eating badly.

Always.

Ironically, the worse I eat, the more I sleep. It’s as if my body knows that fat, salt and sugar require more down-time for storage.

So, I am pounding my fist on the table (again) and saying, “Enough!”

From here until my birthday (where I WILL eat cake), I am going to stick to the eating plan.

I have to remind myself that I AM an athlete–and by the way, I have a mountain marathon in September. I can’t pack on any weight at all–even muscle or my knees will go on strike.

It’s hard to get rid of old habits. But I need to keep in mind the person I want to be. This is a huge time of transition in my life, and I’ve got to start snipping the strings of things that are holding me back, which in this case, means french fries.

This challenge has proven more difficult than I thought it would be. But I want to get rid of my cravings, and I want to give my body the very best so I can perform the best.

I’ve discovered that nutrition really does affect all areas of my life. When I’m eating properly, my mind feels sharper, I’m more energetic, and this sounds strange, but when I look in the mirror, my eyes seem brighter. If I DO get that face-to-face interview for the job that I want, then I want to be at my very best.

When I feel good, I’m more confident, and I can handle the pressures life is throwing at me.

When I feel bad (from eating junk), I become a weepy puddle. That’s not a good look for me.

So, after I finish drinking my coffee this morning, IF I’m hungry, I’ll go find some fresh veggies to fuel my day.

I know my old self is going to rear her ugly head; and I can anticipate a fight.

May the best girl win.