Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Guest Post : Running Whole 30

Happy Tuesday everyone!  Today I have a fantastic guest post by a member of the Running Whole 30 Facebook group.  It came up in a discussion that Carmen had previous experience with this diet, and also runs a lot, so I somehow convinced her to do a guest post!  I'm so excited for you to hear her story and learn her tips and tricks, so enjoy!




Hi everyone! I’m Carmen, and I was so excited when Gretchen asked me to do a little write-up about my experience as a runner doing the Whole30. I was excited to see a group of people doing the Whole30 together and am joining in on my third round. Just as a quick summary, my day job is as a university administrator, so most of the time, I look like this:



But every morning, around 4:15 a.m., I’m out and about my college town looking like this (and actually running, not just taking bathroom selfies):


I have been running for 21 years, since the age of 11. I did organized cross-country and track until I went to college, and have been running purely for enjoyment since then. I run an average of 75 miles a week which includes one long, weekly run of 20+ miles. It’s a huge part of my life and I can’t imagine not running for many years to come!

I did my first Whole30 during the summer of 2015. I don’t have any food allergies or stomach issues, but I was mostly interested in curbing my sweet tooth. Even though I’ve always felt that running allows me to pretty much eat whatever I want, I wasn’t feeling awesome on a daily basis, and I suspected that too much dessert was to blame. I was interested in the Whole30 because of the focus on high-quality food, and also because it does not involve counting calories. I knew I needed a change, but did not want to feel restricted in terms of my eating.

My Type-A personality led me to follow the Whole30 guidelines very strictly the first time around. I read the book It Starts with Food and followed the template of three meals a day with the hand-sized portion of protein, the thumb-sized portion of fat, lots of veggies and no more than two servings of fruit a day. And, I didn’t snack at all, per program guidelines. At first, I felt fine. However, I lost a lot of weight quickly (even though I don’t weigh myself on a regular basis, I could tell from my clothing) and after about a week, running started to feel hard. I was dragging after just a few miles. I didn’t know what to eat during my long runs since I couldn’t eat one of the large meals before a run and I didn’t want to snack. I was accustomed to bringing chews or gels with me on long runs, but those were not Whole30 compliant. I was also used to drinking Nuun during a long run, but since that was not allowed on the program, I switched to just water. So, 20+ mile runs with just water...not so easy.

Needless to say, this was not awesome for me. I did the entire 30 days like this. I felt great in other ways – I was sleeping so well, my skin was clear, my digestion felt great. I felt really good about what I was putting in my body and loved the emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods. I didn’t really think that I wasn’t eating enough – I mean, my breakfasts usually consisted of a whole avocado, two eggs and a whole sweet potato. I was hardly starving myself.

But, after 30 days, I had lost a lot of weight (that I wasn’t trying to lose to begin with) and my running was suffering. As I transitioned out of the Whole30 program, everything normalized – but I felt like I had learned a lot from the program and was making better everyday food choices, so I still felt that it was a success.

I decided to do a second Whole30 in November of 2015, leading up to a big international trip and my birthday. This second time around, I was sure to put some research into the Whole30 for athletes/runners (there’s a great forum on the Whole30 website about this!) and did not worry so much about the exact program guidelines in terms of portion sizes and not snacking. I made sure that every meal involved lots of carbs (I ate sweet potatoes and potatoes like they were going out of style), I added in 2-3 snacks a day depending on my hunger (almonds/cashews, plantain chips, fruit). For long runs, I brought coconut water (has both calories + electrolytes) and larabars or dates. Pre-run, I would have a banana or a couple of Medjool dates. I listened to my body instead of worrying about the exact program guidelines. If I was hungry, I ate a snack. I didn’t want to rely on sugar, but some days, I did eat more than two servings of fruit. Nuts are “limited” on the Whole30 but I did not worry about having a handful of almonds a day with my snack. I still felt just as awesome but my running stayed consistent.

I successfully maintained my weight on my second Whole30, but felt that my body was overall more toned. As a runner, I needed to make these modifications in order for the Whole30 to work for me. It took a little bit of experimentation to figure out what worked for me, and it may for you too (and it was hard for me not to follow the program outline exactly!). But I love how the Whole30 allows me to reset my body and return to an emphasis on high-quality eating. I hope it does the same for you! I’m excited to embark on my third Whole30 with this group and would be happy to answer any questions anybody has. You can reach me at runningcarmie@gmail.com. Thanks for letting me come in and share, Gretchen!

Thank you for sharing your story Carmen!  I hope you all enjoyed hearing more about the Whole30 program from a veteran.  I know that I'm learning so much from Carmen and the other participants in the Running Whole 30 group, so if you haven't joined yet, what are you waiting for?!

What questions do you have about the Whole 30?
Any one else have experience doing a diet before?
Who else is training for a race now?  I started my marathon training this week!

linking up with Tuesdays on the Run  
and Jill

30 comments:

  1. I didn't realize there was a Whole30 just for running. Sounds great! Thanks for linking up!

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    1. There's not a program for running, but another runner and I decided to make a group on FB and see how it went for runners :) Sorry if that was confusing!

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  2. Carmen said everything perfectly! This is an amazing post! I was pretty strict in the first few days and then reread different articles that the Whole30 writers put out telling runners it was okay to eat more and that saved me the first time around! The best thing is you can still lose a little bit of weight by eating even more so I never feel bad about eating extra. It's so amazing that she runs this much I admire her for that!

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    1. She did such a great job writing this! Wonder if we can convince her to start her own blog...

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  3. loved reading her story and her experiences...and omg with getting up at 4am to run! wow!!

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    1. She's such an inspiration! I can wake up at 4 to run in the summer..not so much now!

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  4. Very interesting to learn more about Whole30 from a runner's perspective! This may be something I look into one day.

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    1. I can't wait to see how it works for me :)

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  5. Thanks for sharing your perspective! I've discovered that I do best when I listen to my body, rather than strict guidelines.

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    1. That's a great mindset Wendy! Whole30 might not be for everyone, so just do what works best for you :)

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  6. So interesting! I know I would drop too much weight on Whole30 too and would have to make some modifications.

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    1. That's one of my worries..I'm at a good weight now and don't want to drop too much, especially while marathon training!

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  7. I did the Whole30 over 2 years ago and continue to eat Whole30 style/Paleo while running and it works so well for me. It was stomach issues and injuries that brought me to it, and there's seriously no turning back now.

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    1. I'm going to be using your recipes SO MUCH during the 30 days! I honestly already feel better so I could see myself continuing this after the 30 days!

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  8. Thank you for sharing this, Gretchen; great information and I'm glad I'm not the only runner doing this who feels the need to have an afternoon snack - ha!

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    1. You are definitely not alone! I love that afternoon snack :)

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  9. I have such a hard time with putting any sort of focus on food because for my whole entire life, my mom has been on some sort of diet. She absolutely killed food for me. Killed it. There were "good" foods and "bad" foods and some were restricted and some were righteous and AHHHH I CAN'T STAND IT! Ha ha ha. I'm so sorry. I think this is cool, and different, and I definitely need to be more intentional about putting nutritious food into my body but I bet I would benefit more from counseling or reading a book about emotional eating than the actual food choices! I should probably get on that. :/

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear that Suzy :( I hope that some day you'll be able to have a healthy, happy relationship with food. Maybe counseling would help you! Something to think about for sure.

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  10. This is a great read. I can see myself trying Whole30 in the future. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. I'm training for a race right now and even with low mileage in the 30s-40s I still feel as if I need so many carbs! I drop weight easily while training, even when eating grains. This was really informative to read how she managed to fuel her body, although I still question whether Whole30 gives high mileage runners enough carbs and nutritional variety as their bodies need to stay active and prevent injury.

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    1. There are tons of other ways to get carbs, and the program suggests modifications for runners. I'll be addressing this in a post next week!

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  12. I did Whole 30 last year. Your 1st round experince sounds almost like mine...I thought I was reding my journal-lol! I ended up losing too much body fat and looked a bit too thin for my taste. I too am a Type A and followed it to a T...so much so that after a half marathon when I was was dehydrated, delirious and cramping like crazy...I REFUSED to drink Gatorade even though I totally needed it. Made for a really long recovery day :(

    Second round, I learned a few things but had a hard time not following the program. i am in all in or nothing kind of girl. So round 2 was not a good experience at all.

    Thank you for the information about the group. If I decide to do Whole 30 again, I know where to come for support! Thanks.

    Good luck on your Whole 30 and Marathon training!

    I will be training for the Hot Chocolate 15k in Philly in April.

    -Tamieka@fitballingrunningmom

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    1. I'm sorry that neither of the experiences worked for you :( I hope if you do it again, you'll be ok with bending some of the rules to stay safe and healthy! Good luck with your training..I've always wanted to run a hot chocolate race.

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  13. Thank you for this post! My main concern with Whole30 was not getting enough calories/nutrition in during marathon training, especially since I'm a vegetarian. I think I will definitely have to give the adjusted runner's version of Whole30 a go!

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    1. I think you're exactly right! I'll be talking about what the Whole30 suggests runners and vegetarians do to make it work next week!

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  14. I think the whole30 would definitely be something worth trying! I don't know that I have the dedication right now for it haha!
    www.amemoryofus.com

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    1. It definitely takes a lot of dedication! I'm doing it in a crazy busy month so it might not be the best time to do it, but oh well :)

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  15. I did a whole30 last year while marathon training and i felt great! So awesome to see other runners clean up their diet and feel good! I always feel so good when I eat whole foods- especially while training!!

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    1. That's great to know Kerri! I'll have to chat with you about what worked and what didn't :)

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