Burning fat as fuel

Recently I have been experimenting with training in a fasted state. Like most people I never know what to eat on my morning runs, I always feel tempted to have a banana smoothie or some other high energy food packed full of carbohydrates. Often I will do this and find that after around 30 mins of running I will start to receive a mild stitch in my side. Not pleasant and not the recipe for recording some quick times.

So just incase readers are not aware of ‘fasted training’. It is essentially undertaking exercise without consuming carbohydrates beforehand. The reason to do this is to get my body used to burning fat as its primary source of energy on longer runs. The idea being that I can prepare myself to run a marathon using fat as my primary fuel. Our body only has a limited amount of glycogen this is around 90 minutes for most people but an unlimited supply of one energy ‘fat’. By training in this way I am hoping I will be able to get my body to switch to primarily using fat to fuel long runs.

Like I said this is a bit of an experiment for me at the moment and tomorrow I will be doing a 9 mile run with my friend Clare again without eating. However I will take some dates with me incase I bonk if we decide to go a bit further. Actually according to Tim Van Orden who has previous been US Trail Runner of the year; you can eat carbohydrates after 30 mins of running as your body has switched over to a fat burning system.

Last week I did my first longer run in a fasted state and despite a bit of a drop half way I picked it back up and was fairly happy with my performance as it was the first time I have gone this distance since returning to running.

8 miles plus

I highly recommend checking out this video by Tim Van Orden talking about the reasons behind fasted training. He gives so much great advice here. And don’t worry when I get in from my run I will be eating plenty of carbohydrates and hydrating.

Durian Rider also recommends fasting before short/mid distances up to 21km. Two slightly different angles but both well worth watching.

I will let you know how I get on as I look for the perfect formula to help me achieve my best possible time at the Ashford Half Marathon in just over 3 weeks.

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Running with the deers

Damien Clarkson and Aimee Harrison in GoodGym gear

Bushy Park by Hampton Court was to be the venue for my first 10k race. I met my friend and fellow Hackney GoodGym member Aimee bright and early at 7:30 in the morning. The weather for the race was set to be mild if slightly overcast, I decided to stick to my routine of fruit smoothies for breakfast to fuel myself.

For my race fuel I opted for a straightforward banana smoothie Durian Rider would approve of with 4 bananas. Hoping that the potassium would help keep me hydrated and the bananas as always provide plenty of good clean carbhoydates.

I had never been to Hampton Court before and I was delighted to discover the park has wild deers roaming and I found the scenery to be truly stunning. We dodged the pre race shower and set in the blazing sun, in fact it felt hot with temperature at around 17c.

Today was also the first time I wore my new Garmin Forerunner 210, I really enjoyed being able to monitor my average pace throughout the race. It made sure I kept things nice and consistent in previous runs I have been guilty letting my pace drop and not really realising until someone whizzes past me.

I set off pretty briskly with a first mile pace of 7:29 in my head I had my race strategy all planned out. It went something like this ; position somewhere around 50th place, run the first 5k in about 22/23 mins, then negative split and speed round the second half in around 21 mins picking off people as I go.

In fact I went round like this:

Bushy Park 10k splits
My time of 48:53 placed me in 59th place out of 197 finishers. I am fairly pleased with the result, I thought I would place somewhere in that region. The time was slightly slower than I hoped and I am a bit upset I didn’t negative split. There were a couple of factors which definitely contributed to this these were:

  • It was wet and a lot of running was on grass or muddy uneven trails. I definitely was struggling for footing several occasions
  • It was hot, probably the hottest weather we have had in a few weeks and humidity of 88%
  • I am stupidly inexperienced and again should have put the foot down earlier on

However the run was so enjoyable and two really heartwarming things happened during the race which just makes me love running even more. Firstly a part of the course at around 4km and 9km went through a narrow muddy trail surround by fern trees. As I passed through the trail I heard a rustling on my left, I looked over expecting to see a runner who overcooked it being sick instead a massive stagg deer reared his head from the ferns. It gave me and the guy behind me a bit of a shock but wow it was amazing. I don’t think I will forget that moment for as long as I run.

The second heartwarming thing was of a more human nature at about 5:40 miles a guy pulled over in front of me and let out some frustration. I had seen him start running again after stopping earlier, he could obviously run as he was ahead of me. I just gave him a pat on the back and a few words of encouragement urging him make it the half a mile to the finish.

At the end of the race he came over to me thanked me for my words of encouragement saying he overcooked and I helped him get through the end of the race. That was really nice and made my day. The more I run the more I discover the running community is filled with wonderful people.  Afterwards I went for a lovely post run coffee with Aimee and her Mum. Aimee who hasn’t eaten meat in a few months and is interested in going vegan, did brilliantly running a time of 50.23 in her first 10k race. We both felt on such a high after the race and are already plotting out next races.

Bushy Park