Saturday, November 26, 2011

Getting Back On Track, Sorta, Via a Negative Split

I haven't run very much since reinjurying my groin in October, maybe 5 or 6 times in the last few weeks. The runs have been easy pace since sprint intervals caused the initial injury in January and the recurrence in October (for the barefoot curious, I was barefoot for the first injury and shod for the second time). My groin injury has improved, in part I believe to both restricting running and adding core exercises, but I still feel a twinge where I shouldn't every now and again.

Perhaps against my better judgement, I ran a 5K on Thanksgiving Day to "test it out". If anything, I felt I needed to justify those extra calories that I consumed on Thursday, and boy did I. And I've been anxious to get in a race mode because recent weight loss should produce faster times. But I also knew I shouldn't try to run a fast time for me, perhaps in the low 20s minutes would be alright.

I did make a different kind of time related goal, though, to run a negative split. For those not familiar with running jargon, a negative split is a description of running the second half of a race faster than the first half. I don't think I've ever run a negative split. It's not easy in the beginning of a race to hold back some juice for later. I recorded my pace data with my Garmin 305 (data charted in Excel).

My race time was just under 22 minutes, just about what I thought I would do. My pace was what I was pleased with (blue line on chart). The first half felt comfortable. Every so often, I would catch myself trying to catch runners ahead of me and have to back off the accelerator. It's curious that there were 4 pace spikes (noted with green markers on chart) in the first half at about equal distance intervals. It's as if I couldn't decide which pace to run, although there were a few small hills in the first half that slowed me down.

The 70 foot elevation climb at mile 2 (3200 meters) was a bit surprising and definitely affected my pace, both on the decline and incline. After that hill I had the juice to push it harder and get the negative split. The straight blue line on the chart shows the acceleration. My pace in the first half (2.5 Km) was 7:13/mile and in the second half was 6:56/mile. Nothing really bad happened in the race despite pushing it a little, so I think I passed "the groin test". But this race was my only run of the week and my groin was sore for about a day afterwards.

So what was the point of the negative split? Would the result be just as good if I ran a more even pace throughout the race? It's a difficult question to answer, really, but I can attest to the psychological boost from passing runners who are clearly hurting more than I am. Just maybe, the negative split is a synergistic effect and produces an improved performance otherwise.

Google Blogger's "Manage Blogs I Follow"

I've been pretty happy with Google's Blogger in terms of writing and editing posts, but there's one feature or lack there of that has me about ready to jump ship. It's the "Manage Blogs I Follow" function. The problem is that it's not functional. When I add or remove blogs that I want to follow in this function, it appears to refresh. But when I sign out and sign back in, the changes are lost. I've unsuccessfully tried three different PCs and three different browsers: Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome. I've tried clearing cookies. I've tried making the updates in both Google Reader and Google Profile. The problem first occurred for me on the older version of Blogger, which is why I updated to the newer version of Blogger. But none of these changes have fixed the updating problem. I have wasted a lot of time on this problem.

The result is that I'm not getting updates on the blogs that I want to follow. That's a problem for me. I'd like to think that my blogging habits evolve, but Google Blogger has me frozen in time. Some google searching brings up similar complaints from two years ago. Really Google engineers, you've known about this problem for years? Below is the link with the latest Google forum thread.

In the past two weeks, over 100 people have bothered to take the time to list the browser type, Blogger version and blog address that they can't follow.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

12 Weeks of Not Livin’ La Vida Low Carb

This post has been months in the making. It was initiated by comments at Hank’s Journey (formerly My Low Carb Journey) about an interview with the blogster formerly known as “Castle Grok” (new moniker TBD). As a side note, this is why I don’t go by a moniker, I’m just Kelly. These interactions were followed by a smackdown from the inimitable Anthony Colpo, where he rightly suggested I was smoking something. I had a few private exchanges (and one public) with Anthony which then lead to reading his gifted book “Fat Loss Bible” and writing these two posts on my blog (formerly LoKarbKelly, just kidding):

Body Weight Loss: Carb or Calorie Restriction

Transitioning my Macronutrients via Fat Loss Bible

Long story short, I’ve gone from eating a low carb diet patterned after Sisson’s Carbohydrate Curve in the “Primal Blueprint” to a diet with enough carbs to adequately fuel endurance activities and provide nutrients for proper recovery as outlined in Colpo’s “Fat Loss Bible”. This is a point of distinction: Sisson advocates carb restriction, Colpo advocates calorie restriction.

Sisson acknowledges in his book that the chronic cardio crowd (his description) needs to eat more carbs than his recommended carbohydrate curve, but he also recommends against this lifestyle citing eventual weight gain from eating more than 150 grams of carbs daily (pg. 89, 92 in PB). In contrast Colpo recommends carbs as “jet fuel” (chapter 15) for endurance activities. He promotes the combination of exercise (both endurance and resistance) and calorie restriction (or deficit) as the recipe for fat loss.

I’ve experienced both diets during periods of running and non-running. I’ve lost similar amounts of weight on both diets, and the weight loss was proportional to my approximate activity level (running accelerated the weight loss for both diets). On average, the total calorie levels were a little lower for the low carb diet which I will address below. Given similar weight loss no matter the diet, I’m no longer carbophobic, as I experienced weight loss in the region of 250-300 grams of daily carbs, which is well into Sisson's warning and danger zone on his carbohydrate curve.

In fact I’m carbophilic as I’ve experienced more energy for performance during hard interval running sessions. My one regret during these experiments is that I did not track my body fat content until recent months, so I can’t say whether body weight loss on both diets was due to fat, muscle or some combination. In the last 12 weeks my body fat content dropped from about 20% to 16%.  If you want to know the nitty gritty of my experiences, then please read on.

Macronutrient Statistics

It was the last week of August when I decided to make a change in my diet. My previous diet was a ketogenic diet, or one targeting under 75 grams daily carbohydrates ala Mark Sisson's "Primal Blueprint". The targeted daily grams of fat and protein were around 130-150 grams each. The calories from this diet consisted of less than 15% carbohydrates and more than 50% fat, and the remainder is protein. It looked like this:

For the next twelve weeks my diet targets changed based on these calculations to 200-250 grams carbohydrates, about 144 grams proteins and 47-69 grams fat. To reduce the fat, there were three staples from my ketogenic diet that had to be cut: nuts, cheese and heavy whipping cream. A typical daily menu looked like:
  • breakfast: 2-3 hard boiled eggs
  • lunch: 2 bananas, 2 apples, carrots, grapes
  • dinner: meat, potatoes, veggies
The table below shows the average daily totals for macronutrients and my body weight. These numbers came from my food log.

The average daily calories and average daily grams of carbs for each week are plotted in the chart below.

Weeks 1-3 could best be described as a transition ramping up the carbs. It was difficult to figure out what and how much to eat since the proportion of the macronutrients changed so much. Week 1 resulted in eating too few calories and losing a few pounds. In week 2 and 3 I gained 4 pounds even though my total calories were relatively low and I was running moderately. I think this initial weight gain can be attributed to restoring glycogen and hydration levels in my muscles after eating a ketogenic diet for months. For someone who weighs 75 kilogram (close to my weight) there are about 450 grams (about 1 pound) of glycogen in the muscles (chapter 15, FLB). Each gram of glycogen is bound with 3-4 grams of water (chapter 1, FLB). So gaining about 1 pound of glycogen would be accompanied with a gain of about 3-4 pounds of water.

In weeks 4-7 I lost 7 pounds while eating 240-280 grams carbs daily. My activity level was still moderate, running about 25-35 miles per week including a few interval sessions per week. I ate more calories than I intended to as I found it difficult to restrict calories while running.

In weeks 8-12 all running stopped from the return of an old groin injury. I did about 30 minutes per day of core exercises for rehabilitation. Weight loss continued as I dropped total calories by about 15-20%. I lost 5 pounds.

The point of my experiment was to measure weight loss from a low carb diet compared to an isocaloric diet with enough carbs. The comparisons of both diets while running and non-running is shown in the table below:
  • during periods of non-running (minimal exercise), I lost 1 pound per week on both diets (14% vs. 50% carbs).
  • during periods of running (moderate exercise), I lost about 2 pounds per week on both diets (11% vs. 45% carbs). However, the diets were not precisely isocaloric. The higher carb diet had about 20% more calories and weight loss was about 10% less. I think the extra calories were partially offset by better running performance.

So what's the next step? Logan wants to get P90X. Apparently, he's experiencing the "freshman 15", although you couldn't tell from the pic below. I'm sticking to the same eating plan, intending to drop more pounds. I'm looking forward to dropping some time from races as well, if or when I get back to running. My groin injury is better, but it seems like a long road to recovery. If things go well, I'll sign up for a spring half and full marathon.

Me and Logan - November 2011

Can You Run With Ryan Hall for 60 Feet

Hat tip to Logan for

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Food Log = Accountability = Weight Control

Next week I'll post about an update on my nutritional self-experimentation. That sounds so much better than just saying I'll tell you how my diet is going.

Meanwhile, I'm sharing this video of one of my essential tools, a food log. I'll let the video speak for itself. If you can make it through all ten minutes, then you should get a prize. Have a great day!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wisdom From 80 Year Old Ed Whitlock

I was listening to an archived podcast of "Marathon Talk" when I heard something really honest. Tom Williams was interviewing 80 year old Ed Whitlock. It's no doubt that Ed is most notable for his longevity. He ran as a young lad, a rival of another famous English long distance runner, Gordon Pirie (by the way, if you are a runner and haven't read Gordon Pirie's book "Running Fast and Injury Free", then I recommend that you do).

Ed Whitlock took a long break from running (sounds familiar) and started back up in his 40s. He ran his personal best in the marathon at 48 in 2 hours 31 minutes and 23 seconds, but he didn't stop there. He holds the world record for men 70 to 74 in the marathon in 2 hours 54 minutes 48 seconds. He is the only person over 70 to run a sub 3 hour marathon. He holds the world record for men 75 to 79 in the marathon in 3 hours 4 minutes 54 seconds. He also holds the world record for men 80 to 84 in the marathon in 3 hours 15 minutes 54 seconds.


What I found so refreshingly honest was his answer to this question from Tom: "What is it that motivates you right now? What is it that you love so much about running that's keeping you fired up? Is it performance or just the act of running? What is it about running that gets you going?

Ed answered, "I guess it's performance, really. I don't think I would run for my health. I don't get a great deal of enjoyment from jogging around and around for three hours, really. I mean this is kind of a jrudge, really. I only do it because I want to perform well. It's results oriented."

On a more local note, 71 year old fellow Cookevillian Dallas Smith (who appears to get more enjoyment from running) has the Tennessee state marathon records from ages 63 to 70, all of them impressively run on the hilly Country Music marathon in Nashville.