Working with gravity

You runners may be total nutters, but damn are you ever supportive. I’ve received so much advice concerning form and diet and pace and recommendations for playlists. Can I just give you a big, tight hug and say thank—what? I’m invading your personal space? Why are you furiously washing your hands? Oh, god. Now you’re gagging. No, I don’t know where your EpiPen is!

There’s definitely one thing that has changed everything, or I should say one person. After I wrote about the MRI I had done on my hip (the MRI I aced!), a running specialist named Tracy Peal contacted me on twitter and gave me some incredible advice. He was like, you have how many followers on twitter? Can’t you just bully your legs to perform better?

I can see that going over well:

MY LEGS ARE FASCIST HITLER SOCIALISTS. PLZ RT.

This tweet of his pretty much sums it up:

He told me to keep pulling my foot up, not out, and feel a sense of weightlessness as I moved forward. I should stay tall with my knees bent. I tried this on Saturday and ran 6.3 miles effortlessly. Easiest, most comfortable run yet. It took me a few strides to get a feel for it, but then it made so much sense that I accidentally started twirling, turning cartwheels, and farting confetti.

Ok. So. Form improved. What about my diet? You and your uncle and his best friend and that friend’s hair stylist wrote to tell me that I had to add major carbs back to my diet, let that insane caveman diet slide until all of this is over. You want to know how insane this caveman diet is? This insane: I dread adding back those carbs.

Here I have permission to eat bread and rice and bagels and beans and pasta, and all of it sounds like shit. Give me a steak with a side of broccoli any day over a sandwich with chips, because I remember what I felt like when I ate that way. It’s like having permission to go have sex with David Beckham but only if he sings “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” the entire time.

And that’s what I did before I ran seven miles yesterday, I ate a bowl of brown rice and beans with an egg and some salsa. You guys, I blew that run out of the fucking water. I shaved a good two minutes off of my pace (TWO WHOLE MINUTES, THAT’S ONE MORE THAN ONE!) I’d pass people in the park, wave and shout, “CaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAARRRrrrrrBS!

(Imagine that with Oprah’s intonation.)

That’s what I’m going to be for Halloween. A zombie runner who gave up brains for carbs in an effort to live her best life.

For the next few hours I strutted through my day feeling pretty good about myself what with my improved form and pace, and wait? What is that feeling? Give me second so I can put my finger on it… wait… is it… OH RIGHT. If I stood sideways in the mirror I looked like I was sixteen months pregnant with triplets.

BLOAT. I am not even kidding, my stomach swelled to the size of a basketball. I felt its head crowning for about four hours. My mother and sister gathered to hold my hands as I pushed it into this world. A happy baby ball! Wheee!

WTF?! I didn’t even have any gluten! And we all know that gluten is responsible for every evil thing that has been perpetrated on this earth.

HITLER ATE GLUTEN. PLZ RT.

There has to be a happy medium somewhere in all this madness.

  • Daddy Scratches

    I’m pretty sure the attainment of a “happy medium” will not coincide with RUNNING 26.2 MILES. Maybe that’s just me, though.

  • twinsmomma4

    Heather-did you read about the woman who ran/walked a marathon and then went and gave birth to a kid in the same day?

  • Becky Cochrane

    BUT–after the carbs, can you still fart confetti? That’s the true game-changer, I think.

  • Kam904s

    Email Mark Sisson from Mark’s Daily Apple – he used marathon run (professionally, I think) and he’s primal/low-carb, so he’ll be able to help you find a happy medium.

  • VegasNative

    @Becky I’m pretty sure she’ll just switch up to farting rice. It’s almost like confetti.

  • jgn

    I’m training for NYC following Paleo. It’s totally possible! Read Paleo for atheletes. I take Vespa Junior 45 minutes before my run. And you can take stingers during your run.
    Do what works for you, but don’t feel like it can’t be done.

  • GingerPeach

    You can get lots of carbs just from veggies rather than grains (and, seriously, don’t even TRY to add gluten back to your diet. it really is the worst). Try adding more sweet potatoes, leafy greens and root vegetables rather than going the whole way with rice/gluten or anything like that. You can do it!

  • Becky Cochrane

    @VegasNative: They need to make rice in pretty colors! Using organic dyes, of course.

  • lkbrown33

    no doubt you’ve seen this – woman runs marathon gives birth a few hours later…
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2011/10/woman-runs-marathon-has-baby-a-few-hours-later.html

  • lynnecaren

    Next time try white rice – better for your tummy. Or sweet potato. MDA says lots about rice, he thinks white is less bad than brown..
    I’ve had sushi once since going Paleo with no terrible side effects. And I’m no runner :)

  • kristanhoffman

    I think “happy medium” is the key phrase. Everything in moderation. Which, as Daddy Scratches pointed out, isn’t exactly where a marathon fits in… but in general, our bodies don’t need to be deprived of anything, or indulged either. As with most things in life, it’s all about balance.

  • Sundae

    Paleo is THE BEST. IT is freakin hard to follow strictly, but there are so many recipes now, that NO, you don’t need gluten or pasta or rice, blah blah. I’m sure you’ve hit up tons of paleo blogs already. It really does a body and skin good.

  • T_r_i_s_h

    You could become a truly obnoxious runner, like me, if you read ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall.

    Sorry… even MORE truly obnoxious.

  • luv and kiwi

    Ahhh, he taught you chi running : ) It really does help, huh?

  • Paulla

    Try to pick up a copy of The Paleo Diet for Athletes. You CAN do this w/o all those excess carbs, especially if you’re used to it. And, if you do want to add carbs, just add more fruit and veggies – doesn’t have to be bread or rice. :)

  • arielsara

    You might try sprouted seed grains like Quinoa or Millet instead of Rice, which is primarily starch. Squash and Sweet Potatoes are also great options.

  • taylor

    I have a similiar body frame to you, but maintain a pooch that makes me look three months pregnant all the time. Carbs are the reason I look three months pregnant even though I run six days a week?! Carbs?! I love carbs. I might love them enough to keep the pooch. Maybe.

  • sche76

    Just so you know, there are a lot of world class athletes, runners included that do not eat carbs. There are a lot of alternatives, so do the research.
    book Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life by Brendan Brazier and the blog, No Meat Athlete. So you don’t have to go back to eating carbs, unless you really want to.

  • karmadarling

    Wait, wait wait – you hadn’t eaten carbs in how many months and you chose your first meal as brown rice and beans? And you are surprised about being bloated?

    It’s a nutritional fact that beans are difficult to digest unless you eat them very regularly. And brown rice? I’m surprised you didn’t end up sick as a dog with a lot more than confetti shooting out your a**.

    How about some gluten free pasta or a delicious potato?
    Sheesh.

    But besides that, congratulations on your diligence and working through the challenges of this lofty goal thus far!!! Oh, and especially thank you for your dedication to the betterment of women all over the world – I love the new direction your trip to Bangladesh has taken you in, BRAVA.

  • mmh

    I am a bagel-loving distance runner married to a paleo-diet guy. You don’t need to eat bagels to get your carbs. LOAD UP on carbs even if it’s not bread. That means lots of veggies, missy. Can I recommend a ton of leafy greens thrown into the blender with a frozen banana and milk of choice (soy, cow, coconut)? My kids beg me for this!

  • The Woman Formerly Known as Beautiful

    Look, if you’re serious about this marathon thing or just being a true, good, worthy, lovable, humble, respected, saved human being you shouldn’t ingest:

    Milk
    Cheese
    Eggs
    Wheat
    Gluten
    Alcohol
    SUGAR motherfuckers. Eat the sugar, fast pass to the fires of Hell (or Hellfire)
    Anything with a face
    Anything that tastes remotely delicious
    Anything that a homeopathist, naturopath, yogi, accupuncturist, levitator, Wiccan, Warlock would find offensive.

    What you can eat:
    Quinoa

    That’s it. Just quinoa. With a side of hemp. And one drop of flax seed oil diluted in irradiated water. Followed by some kind of colonic. And repentance.

    That should do it.

  • Mama Kat

    Carbs are whats causing me to look 4months pregnant?? Bastards.

    I say you just eat whatever you want, keep the slim tummy and take the 2 minute penalty for it.

    Congratulations!

  • ajenawsu

    Speaking of zombie runners…

    http://runforyourlives.com/

  • sea.gypsy77

    Our ancestors ate what you eat and used the run down method to catch their food. This is where they would chase after an antelope (or what have you) until it got too tired to keep running away.

    If they can do that, I’ll bet you can keep your diet AND keep your two minutes :)

    Good luck!

  • kidsmom

    You are really high maintenance, requiring a lengthy operations manual.

  • MsMegan

    Could you please to explain this running technique so I can understand exactly what I’m supposed to do? I’ve only been running since January and my hips would greatly appreciate any help!

    Or, you could just point me in the proper direction for more info…

  • Sara Carling

    Heather, let me introduce you to my friend Krista’s blog. She’s a barefoot runner who started because she has major issues with her knees & hips. That pose running is the base for barefoot running, which further prevents injuries. Plus, her blog is full of inappropriate running humor. Good times.

    http://nakedonsharppointystuff.blogspot.com/

  • Sivy

    @MsMegan here is a link to more information on the POSE Method of running… it’s used by CrossFit (which is where I learned about it).
    http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/64_07_PoseRun
    And there is a form of gluten in rice, corn and oats – it is just molecularly different than wheat. It is the gluten in wheat that most people have issues with. Instead of adding back in grains – increase the sweet potato and other root veggies. Oh and make sure you are getting enough healthy fats – put coconut oil in everything! (Seriously coconut oil can make an old tire taste good!!)

  • Mindy Lee

    I have a serious, non-repairable back injury (several torn discs.) I can no longer run. Only walk. And after a major flare up, I couldn’t even do that.

    Last night, after reading your blog, I once again tried to take a walk. I lifted my knees, and let my feet fall flat to the ground. The first 1/2 mile, I felt funny. Ridiculous, even.

    And I was able to walk 3 whole miles. And my right leg, which normally goes numb from my back to my knee, didn’t lose feeling.

    And this morning I was able to get out of bed, without any “oh my word I over did it and now I wish I would just die” pain.

    Heather, there have been many times I could kiss you. Add this to the list.

    (Oh, and when you want to ingest a carb, I strongly recommend a small amount of sweet potato. Yes, I do.)

  • jacqueline

    misplaced response to the new chuck photo:
    you could use those gloves instead of the modesty patches…

  • moey_18

    Look, runners are nuts. And because they’re nuts, they’ll tell you all about how they’re not and this diet is great and pop this supplement and wiggle your earlobe and all this other nonsensical bullshit.

    I participated in Elite barbell competitions for years. I ate what I wanted, worked out sometimes, showed up and threw some weight around. Why? Because I was in my early 20s and could, muthafucka!

    After 25, my body rebelled, said you suck and staged a fitness embargo. But since I love nothing more than extreme behavior, I said piss off, self, you’re about to be a triathlete! I have worked out with the same trainer, endurance coach and nutritionist for nearly 5 years. When we first began, it was about balance of diet, obsessive workouts, and 22 different supplements a day. Currently, I am on a 40g of carbs Ketogenic diet. I could absolutely stab someone in the neck at any minute and couldn’t compete in a Tri if I TRIed. But just as my trainer swore by 20hrs/week of training and a balanced diet 3 years ago, he swears by “meh, a few days a week, ketogenic diet” training now.

    Do what feels good. Use your head. Not the side that needs medication, but the common sense side. Eat organically. Don’t soak your insides in either cholesterol OR carbs. Chomp down on a multivitamin and suck down some whey isolates now and then.

    But remember, half of the training of such an event is the MENTAL part that overcomes the physical torture. Athletes and participants are separated by their mental toughness. Don’t shatter your hip or anything, but don’t be a ninnypants wuss either.

  • T_r_i_s_h

    @MsMegan – this is a good video about barefoot running. See if you can find a barefoot running coach in your area and book in for a training session or two, it’s much easier to learn if you’ve got someone telling you how to adjust your style.

    http://vimeo.com/12551218