The most useless post about macros you’ll ever read

Since I’m still in recovery, there are not a lot of things I can do about my fitness.

I’m doing upper body strength work on machines four times a week, because I cannot trust my foot yet to help me keep proper form on the bench or standing, and I am technically not allowed to put pressure on it beyond regular walking.

So, what else can I do to become a successful triathlete this year?

For the past 8 weeks, 90% of my meals have been cooked at home. In the months prior to that, about 90% of my meals were from restaurants. I was gradually gaining weight with the pretext that I was “training,” and of course I needed all those pancakes and fries as fuel. After all, you need to carb load the whole week for your weekend long rides, right?

The truth is, I had an incredibly tough year at school and work, and my stress levels were out of control. I spent 8 months working 50-70 hour weeks (I know this is the norm for many people, but it was incredibly tough for me with an ambitious training schedule and 60+ mile rides on weekends). Something had to give, and what gave was my nutrition.

The fact that I had obligatory medical leave and had to be at home for weeks forced me to reflect. First of all, I cannot sustain that level of stress and be an efficient athlete (or a healthy human, for that matter). Second, though I completed my century ride, I did it slower than I trained for and my fitness was going in the wrong direction.

What I can do to make myself a better athlete is to regain control of what I eat and create boundaries to protect my mental and physical well-being.

I started noticing that I was losing weight just from eating at home. Of course, I’m also losing muscle mass, especially in my legs and glutes, but I am doing everything I can to build my upper body muscles and maintain overall strength. Since I cannot use my legs to train, I can use this time to get lean. This can only mean one thing: tracking macros!

After reading dozens of articles, I believe I need to increase my protein intake, and drastically reduce my carbs. The first day, I tried to set my ratios to P40/C30/F30 and it was a complete fail. One does not go from 50-60% carbs to 30% overnight. So, I opted to do a more gradual transition and tried P35/C40/F25. That went very well, so I will be transitioning to P40/C35/F25 next week.

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My macronutrient intake for the week. Gradually decreasing my carbs/protein ratio. Friday was a cheat day, can you tell? 😛

How can I tell this is working? I cannot weigh myself because I cannot stand barefoot on a scale. I did not take body measurements last week, and frankly, I’m not eager to. The way I can tell this is working is by how I feel.

On Friday, I ate a steak salad with fries, and at night I had a frozen margarita with chips and salsa. I felt sluggish and greasy and weak. The lack of protein and excess of carbs made a big difference in just one day. Next week, I will track physical changes more closely and I will do my first weekend meal prep. I’m so excited to share with you the positive results these changes will bring.

 

 

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PGH Marathon training – Week 2/16

Run like it’s freezing and you are trying to get somewhere warm… Because it is true.

Winter finally came to town. With single digit temperatures and negative real feels I am extremely grateful for thermal wear, keeping me away from the nefarious dreadmill.

It is only week 2, and excuses are already trying to sneak their way into my training. The run on Wednesday was a group run organized by a local running store, and it is usually around 3 miles at 8:30 min/mile. So, I regularly use it as an easier pace recovery run. This week it was faster and longer, and I wanted to use that as an excuse to an easier hill workout on Thursday. But I resisted.

The HIIT class I took on Saturday involved a lot of leg work (barbell squats and lots of squat jumps with a plate). On Sunday, I woke up with sore legs and the weather app said 8F. I wanted to cancel my long run or do a shorter easier route. But, once again, I managed to resist and I did a bit slow but decent long run. 

The runing total for this week is 25.42 miles with an average pace and cadence of 7:30 min/mile and 164 steps per minute. 


Menu of the week

This week’s menu consisted of two meals:

  • Brown-rice chunk crab cakes / radish and cucumber salad
  • Teriyaki baked pork chops / mashed potatoes / baked asparagus
  • On the weekend we tried this highly recommendable protein pancake recipe

The crab cakes were based on this recipe that me and my wife have been using for years. However, this time, we made some adjustments to make  it healthier. First, we reduced the proportion of rice, and we used brown rice instead of white rice. Second, we realized that surimi has a lot of carbs, so we substituted half the surimi with chunky yellow-fin tuna. Third, instead of frying them, we baked them (20min each side at 375). They tasted great!!

Try some crazy glue before throwing your Newtons away

If you’ve been running in Newtons for a long time, you might have seen something like the image above. On the right, a brand new pair of Distance S III. On the left is their predecessor, same make and model, but with 400 extra miles and one less tooth.

 Nothing wrong with this. Even if the tooth was still there, it was time to replace the shoes due to their normal wear and tear. Except that Newtons can sometimes lose their teeth prematurely (only male models from what I’ve heard). And it can be very frustrating to have to throw away your relatively new shoes, especially when they are not exactly the cheapest. See for instance the Instagram post I found and some of the comments on it.

This happened to my relatively new shoes last week. I was still home, getting ready to go out for a run, and I felt it tear off. I immediately felt very frustrated but, instead of throwing the shoes away and buying a new pair, I went to the store and spent $3.99 on a super-glue tube and reattached the missing tooth.

I still don’t know how many miles I will get out of this fix, but I already took the repaired shoes out for a 10k climbing workout, and they felt great.

Get rid of the problem not the shoes!!

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Have you had any similar experiences?

5 steps to shave 30 minutes off my marathon time

boston

That is exactly what I need to qualify to the Boston Marathon. Last year, I ran my first marathon in Pittsburgh in 3:31:43. This was nowhere neat my Boston Marathon Qualifying Standard of 3:05:00. This year, I plan to run my second marathon. It is exactly the same race, but this time I will try to shave 30 minutes off my time to quality to Boston. Here is my 5-step plan to accomplish this task, let’s hope it is enough!!

1. Faster cadence and better form

Last year, I was following a very long (30-week) training plan, but I injured my right hamstring 16 weeks before the race. It took me 6 weeks to come back to a regular training schedule, and another 4 weeks for the pain to subside entirely.

My physical therapist told me that what felt like a hamstring injury was actually a lower back issue caused by a weak core and bad running posture. He also told me that my cadence was too slow and my muscles were too tight, and gave me some pointers to improve my form.

I started doing more core strengthening exercises, stretching better, foam rolling, doing running drills,  and taking rest days seriously,  and I have focused on keeping proper form and fast cadence during my runs. Increasing my cadence hasn’t been easy. I have gone up from 155 steps per minute to 175, and I am consciously trying to push my normal-pace-cadence all the way up to 180.

I am happy to report that I have been injury free since then. I hope my improved form and cadence helps me continue to be injury free for a long time, and to be more efficient on race day!

2. Smarter race

Last year, I was hoping to finish under 3:30:00. I probably could have, but I made a total noob mistake. Since I was feeling great at the beginning of the race, I stuck around the 3:15 pacer for around 15 miles. At some point, I realized I couldn’t keep up any more, and then  I hit the wall. The last 10 miles were absolute hell. I just wanted to stop and wait for someone to pick me up. I did my fastest mile in 7 minutes, and mile 25 took me more than 10. Starting out too fast was a terrible mistake.

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You can see how I hit the wall on mile 16, the last 10 miles were tough
Continue reading “5 steps to shave 30 minutes off my marathon time”

Bunion Surgery Recovery: Week 7

I had a post-op appointment last Friday, 51 days after surgery. My doctor peeled off all the scabs and then grabbed my foot, pressing hard into the bone joints where I think the screws are. “Does this hurt?” she asked, and I said “No.” “Then I want you to put weight on it, walk slowly with the boot on at all times. No bare feet.”

I was thrilled! Progress during this recovery feels like little successes, and every new thing I can do makes me feel like I got an A+. I tried to take a step to walk out of the doctor’s office, but I could not do it. After training my body and brain to absolutely not – under no circumstances – step on that foot, it took some mental strength to convince myself to walk.

When I got home, I took some tentative steps. After some practice in private, I boasted to Bruno and my mom, “Look, I think I’m doing it! I think I can do it!” as I hobbled/slid in and out of the living room.

There are two things I love about being weight-bearing: being able to sit down in the bathroom without using my arms (yes, I went there), and not having to use crutches or sit on my butt to go down the stairs.

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Weekly progress of my right foot after bunion surgery

I had a brief crisis when I looked at my foot late last week and thought the bunion was still there. There is nothing more frustrating than taking yourself out for 3+ months and have the issue not be corrected. The doctor explained that while the bone is very straight, the rest of the foot remembers the bunion. So, the ligaments, tendons, skin, etc. may still show the bump, but it will get straighter over time. She’s right, of course, my X-Rays are awesome and the bones are all parallel. Yet, this recovery has ups and downs, and after months of dependency and inactivity, it’s natural to second-guess the decision.

Right foot before and 7 weeks after bunion surgery
Right foot; left: before surgery, right: 7 weeks post-op

I cannot wait to run again. I read someone describe it this way: “Before, I used to run around my foot, now, I run through my big toe.” If you’ve never had this biomechanical problem it’s probably hard to imagine, but those words created a perfect mental image of stepping down on the ball of my foot and propelling up and forward, gliding across pavement without pain. Of course it’s natural to second-guess, but there’s no guessing that this surgery was the exact right thing to do.

PGH Marathon training – Week 1/16

The first week of a training cycle is always exciting. This is week 1 of my 16-week training plan for the 2016 Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, and it is a specially exciting cycle for me.

Last fall I was training for my first Boston qualifying attempt, but then work got in the way. From mid October to mid December, I was barely sleeping, had no time to cook or train properly, and some weeks I didn’t even run at all! So, I backed out from the Philly marathon and only did the half instead.

Now, things are back to normal and I feel ready to go. Something tells this next cycle will be full of excitement and good news.

The day by day workout breakdown was as follows:

  • Monday Morning: 1 mile swim including 10 x 25m @ 19 sec. Afternoon: Les Mills Grit™ 30:00 min HIIT class
  • Tuesday Morning: 6.29 miles run @ 7:59 min/mile on fresh slippery snow. Afternoon: upper body lifting workout
  • Wednesday — Easy swim for a semi-rest day
  • Thursday Morning: 4.92 miles run @ 6:47 min miles average (random pickups since the track was closed). Afternoon: full body lifting workout
  • Friday — Fitology Studio 3 class combo (30 min indoor cycling +  30 min lifting + 30 min core)
  • Saturday — Full body lifting workout
  • Sunday — 10.01 miles run @ 7:17 min/mile

Continue reading “PGH Marathon training – Week 1/16”

5 hill workouts in State College, PA

There is something about hills that I just can’t resist. Inspired by my trip to San Francisco last week, I decided to write a post with some of my favorite hill workouts in State College, PA.  Get your heart beating and your quads burning!

Don’t forget to leave a comment if I missed your favorite hill or if you try any of these workouts!!


1. Research Drive repeats (400s)

This is my favorite hill workout. If you start doing it once every 2-3 weeks and don’t get faster and stronger I’ll return your money, guaranteed!

  • Length — 4.5 miles (with 2.5 repeats, you can add more)
  • Elevation gain — 241 feet
  • Concept — 400 meters uphill sprints
  • Road type — Bikepaths and sidewalks
  • Where — Loop from the Haymarket Park on Bristol Ave
  • Description — The course starts from the parking lot of the Haymarket Park. Begin with a 1.5 mile warm-up on a 2-3% incline up the bike path to the top of Research Dr. Research Dr is a  Λ-shaped half-a-mile-long quiet little street. Jog down northbound to Bristol Ave, catch your breath, and sprint back up to the top as fast as you can. Jog down southbound to Whitehall Rd, catch your breath, and sprint back up again. Repeat as many times as you have it in you (or you think it is safe). Finish up with a flat cool-down jog back to the starting point.
  • Kicker — For an extra challenge, take a good break between repeats and sprint as fast as you can on your way up. My PRs are 1:04 on the northbound climb and 1:48 on the southbound climb (strava.com/activities/456096972/overview). Can you beat them?
  • Map — mapmyrun.com/routes/view/950977781

Research Drive Repeats Continue reading “5 hill workouts in State College, PA”