Tag Archives: fatigue

Fat and Running

Hello!

Hope you guys have been keeping well. I have not been blogging consistently. WHOOPS! I’ve got a lot on my plate right now and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed (in a good way!)! Please bear with me on this one. Life is getting a little bit more exciting and I hope to be able to share the good news with you guys soon!


If you’ve been following my posts lately, you will notice that I’ve been talking about FUEL and RUNNING.

Just a quick recap:

We talked about carbohydrates, how to maximise our stores (glycogen stores) before a run and how to reduce dependence on these stores during a run!

An important point to note is that carbohydrate stores, both in our liver and muscles, ARE LIMITED.


Thankfully, our bodies have another source of energy – FAT!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThis just spells F-A-T

Fat is basically UNLIMITED. You can’t run out of fat. If you do, you’ll die.

From the above statement, you can see why tapping into your fat stores would be an advantage. If you can train your body to increase its reliance on fat stores, you will be a fairly good endurance runner!

Fat is stored in adipose tissue (fat cells) and muscle.

FAT CELLS

Pinch the side on your tummy and you’d probably be pinching some FAT. Fat cells are found all over the body: abdominal area, buttocks, hips and under the skin. The more we eat, the more fat we store and it becomes our energy reserve.

However, storage fat is not essential for health and too much of it increases the risk of certain diseases.

MUSCLE FATS

Fat stored in muscle is known as intramuscular triglycerides. Found throughout skeletal muscles, they are available for immediate use during exercise [1].

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The story is not as straight forward for fat cells (compared to muscle fats). Storage fat needs to be broken down into fatty acids and transported to the muscles to be used for energy.

Free fatty acids (from fat cells) and muscle fat provide energy to fuel your running.

Which fuel you burn (Carbohydrates or Fats) during running depends on the intensity and duration of it (more on that later). However, how much fat you burn depends largely on your genes as well as training and nutrition.

Although genes wear the biggest hat, you can always train your body to burn more fat at higher running intensities.

Fatigue sets in when your body is low on fuel. As mentioned, fat is virtually limitless which makes it a very attractive source of fuel.


So, the question is: How to become a fat burner?

Becoming a FAT BURNER

The answer lies in endurance training. As you know, when you’re running a marathon, you’re running at a submaximal pace. At this intensity, your body uses more fat. Many months of training and running miles logged would mean that you will burn more fats as compared to carbohydrates at the same intensity. When the weight is off muscle glycogen and blood glucose, you delay fatigue. This ultimately translates to better running performance.

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As mentioned, for fat to be used as fuel, it must first be broken down into fatty acids, mobilised and transported to the muscles to be burned. Endurance training enhances the capacity of muscles to use fat. It stimulates the production of enzymes that would enhance all the steps required to use fat as fuel [2].

In the presence of oxygen, mitochondria are the factory that produces ATP (body’s energy currency). Endurance training increases the number of mitochondria in a cell which means that you can produce more energy from fat (fats are being ‘burned’ in the mitochondria) [2].

Running puts a certain amount of stress on the body. When you start running, the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) comes into play. The main energy fuel that is used to meet the sudden demand of energy is carbohydrates. Thankfully, humans are highly adaptable and we are able to learn and change to better handle that stress in the future. Training reduces this sympathetic response and puts a greater reliance on fat as fuel [3].

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Throwback to when I first started running.

Remember how hard it was when you first started running – your breathing was all over the place, your heart felt like it was going to explode and your limbs had a mind of its own – but you continued anyway? And then a few weeks later you realised that running is the easiest thing in the world. That is because your body adapted to the “stress”.

At the same running speed, a trained individual is a fat burner that relies less on carbohydrates to fuel their running at the same intensity as an untrained individual. IMG_0897

These training adaptations don’t take place overnight. There are no short cuts. You can see how training, hard work and effort are keys to unlocking the lock to becoming a great runner.

But if you happen to have a problem with committing to training, maybe there’s a way out. Ever heard of fat-loading diets? We’ll explore that next!

Till then, keep running! 🙂

How to Prepare for a Marathon – Training Part 2

Disclaimer: This is going to be about how I prepared (in terms of Training) for the Marathon. Please note that I’ve only ever ran a Marathon once in my life. So, follow at your own risk.

Summary from the previous post:

-Set your goals (be realistic)

-Train your mind

-Get out there

-Run

You’ve got your Marathon Training Plan all worked out. What’s left to do? RUN! The process is long, tiring and stressful. Here are some of the things to expect during your arduous training days.

What to expect:

Fatigue

This is the number 1 feeling in marathon training: FATIGUE! You’re going to be tired, all the time. You’re going to feel like a lifeless zombie-fied piece of meat.

With a full time job, training for a marathon required a lot of effort. I stuck with training in the evenings (what I’m used to). Putting in a 20KM run at night after work was no easy feat. You’re already tired from a full day of work and then you have to worry about getting your training miles in. Of course, there were days where I looked forward to my runs and days where I would prefer to stay in (to sleep). Sometimes, I train late at night (till 11-ish pm) with team Dirigo. The problem with training so close to bed time is that your heart would still be beating fast and hard. Coupled with the adrenaline rush, it was almost impossible to fall asleep (which adds to fatigue!). And then the whole cycle continues the next day.

Story of my life!

You just have to embrace and deal with it. Get to know that feeling and work around it. It is going to be a long term relationship. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep every day. Trust me, you will need it! I thank my friends and colleagues for putting up with the lifeless me.

Aches/Pain/Soreness/Stiffness

As you up your training miles, you will suffer all kinds of aches, pains and soreness. It is quite hard to pin point the cause of it. It can be anything from the lack of rest/sleep, incorrect running technique, malnutrition, training shoes, injury (I hope not!) etc.

Identify whether or not your pain is temporary (only when you run) or permanent (all the time). If the pain persists and is beyond bearable, see the doctor and take a few days off. Skipping a few training sessions is better than risking your future running days.

Stamina weeks were the worst! I was not used to running anything more than 50-60KM per week. Increasing my mileage up to 30-40% a week was D-I-S-A-S-T-R-O-U-S (for me). I was aching all over. I was feeling sore, almost every other day! I was hurting in places that never hurt before. Of course, marathon training (or any other form of proper training) was totally new to me. Quality sessions on the track and LSDs left me crippled. Ok, I’m exaggerating (HAH!). But I did have to experiment with ice baths/compression garments/ointments/deep heat/deep cool etc. It was a good learning experience.

Take advantage of all your experiences (good or bad) and make something out of it.

Demotivation

Running isn’t always going to be filled with peaches and cream pie. You will have your highs and your lows, even during your training period. You’re not always going to hit your training paces/times, you’re not always going to feel like running, you’re going to feel tired and totally drained of energy…… it is ok! Welcome to the club. But KEEP GOING, it is how you deal with it that matters.

I didn’t always perform during training and many eyes were on me. In terms of training and running experience, I was considered the slowest and the most inexperience (Hello NEWBIE!) one there. I needed to prove myself at every training session which added a lot of pressure. It can be very demotivating when you know that people doubt your ability (or when YOU start to doubt YOUR OWN ability).

There were a few occasions where I felt so exhausted to the point where I took about 1hr20mins to run 11KM (I am not kidding. I had to walk most of the way). At that time, I couldn’t imagine myself running a FULL MARATHON. Everything came crashing down before my eyes. That was a real downer. But you’ve got to trust the training and the process. Take a day off from running if you have to (but not too many). Go for a massage, relax, clear your mind and refocus on your goals!

Despite all of that, I was at my peak (or peaking). I managed to hit many PBs along the way and I used them as mini milestones to keep me motivated.

Sign up for a few key races during your training period to check your progress. My improvements kept me motivated!

Weight Loss

I guess this is the best part! To everyone out there seeking to lose weight, TRAIN TO RUN A MARATHON! I kept my nutrition intake in check. I made sure I was eating enough. But even then I managed to lose 2KGs.

The temporary weight loss during this period is usually due to water loss and could be a sign of dehydration. Make sure you drink enough!

I kept a training log (to track my progress) and I recorded my weight almost every day. I made sure I never dipped below 44KG.

Don’t overeat but make sure you eat enough to fuel your training.

Bottomless Pit

You come home from your LSD and you turn your kitchen upside down, wiping out everything in sight including that whole pack of cookies. In 10 minutes, you’ve probably eaten more than you burned on the run. Sound familiar?

As your mileage begins to increase, your appetite will be through the roof as your body is trying to fuel your energy needs. To avoid overeating, you have to make wiser food choices throughout the day. Plan your meals. That way, you are less likely to go off track with your eating. The 2 meals that you should take note of are the ones before and after your run. Have a pre-run snack 2 hours before you head out and a balanced post-run recovery meal consisting of carbohydrates, protein and fats within the next 1 hour.

If you need a snack, go for a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts. Think of it as fuelling your body enough to provide you energy for your next run instead of dwelling in the mind-set that you deserve it. Training for a marathon doesn’t give you the license to EAT ALL YOU WANT!

Sunburn/Tan lines/Dry skin

In a tropical country like Malaysia, you’re bound to be exposed to the sun. With marathon training, you’ll be spending most of your time on the road. Depending on the time of day, you will be exposed to both UVA and UVB rays which cause pre-mature skin aging and sunburn respectively. Unless you train very early in the morning or very late at night, always remember to apply sunscreen! You wouldn’t want facial pigmentation as you age. So, (I repeat) apply SUNCREEN!! You’ll thank me in the future.

Your BEST FRIEND!

The best way to avoid tan lines is to not train out in the sun, unless of course you are willing to wear sun protective gear (long sleeve tops and bottoms). I still have those unsightly tan lines (but I’m pretty proud of em)! GAH!

A combination of water loss and the exposure to the sun would render your skin dry. If so, apply moisturizer day and night.

What else have you experienced that are not listed here? DO SHARE!

Stay active, keep running!