An Avocado a Day

Life update: I no longer crave donuts.

Saying that the first week of my new low carb lifestyle was difficult would be an understatement. Still running with a couple college friends, I was repeatedly dropped throughout the week as they dumped coal into their engines and ran off into the sunset with me gasping behind. 

The week before, my Ford Focus (didn’t end up actually getting that Tesla) refused to power up the steep inclines presented on the drive from Phoenix up to Flagstaff. Basically, I couldn’t accelerate no matter how much I tried. My first week of low carb was pretty similar to that.

However, as the great quote from Jack Black’s movie Nacho Libre goes:

“I believe in science”.

This wasn’t an offshoot project where I just decided to send it one day. I had done the research and read the appropriate literature on how best to attack this transition and what the general health effects would be, both initially and long term.

I stayed the course.

I set an alert on my watch to beep whenever my heart rate rose above 160 bpm. If I want fat to be my predominant fuel source, I need to teach by body how to actually burn it. So I took this next week easy. (It’s amazing that after 8 years of running a 75 mile week with over 6000 feet of elevation gain would be considered ‘easy’).

Most of my runs hovered around 7:30 pace, which even in Flagstaff at 7000 ft elevation is quite pedestrian compared to what was required of me last year at the University of Miami.

Shoutout Coach Halsey for ingraining 6:20 pace deep into my soul.

Quick note for those thinking you can’t eat well on low carb. Each morning I have 3 scrambled eggs with broccoli, onions and pepper jack cheese sided with an entire avocado and plenty of sriracha. Lot of nuts like almonds and walnuts for snacks. Healthy salads absolutely loaded up. Chicken parm or burgers on a lettuce wrap for dinner. Homemade pizza with almond flour as a substitute, with jalapeño, onions, and green peppers. Basically, eating healthy and eating well.

Jalapeño could be a new answer to favorite pizza topping if Noah and Ben ever have me on the Scrambled Legs podcast again.

As week 2 progressed, I realized that I no longer needed a midday nap. This was a coveted asset for my first month in Flagstaff. Energy levels were more consistent throughout the day without any sugar crash.

The green light that this was working came on my 2nd long run under this system. I awoke early, had my standard 2 cups of drip coffee. (check out my coffee blog for some advice in that regard) Probably should’ve done a French Press but that would require grinding beans of a higher quality, and at 6:00am I didn’t think my housemates would be too fond of that.

Anyways, I tossed on my hydration pack, with a tucked in bottle of nuun and a mini Clif Bar in case of bonking, and headed down Woody Mountain dirt road with cautious optimism. With my top songs of 2019 playlist blasting away, I clipped off miles like I was doing a grade school multiplication table.

At 10 I took a few swigs of my nuun and continued on back. At 15 I was still feeling strong and decided to push the last 5, as this would be required of me to be competitive over the end of an ultra. Averaging 6:23/mi over the final 5, my total came to 20 miles in 2:15:50, an overall average of 6:47 at around 7,200 feet. I was amazed at my body, as I hit 20 and did not even feel close to hitting a wall. My average heart rate of 149 confirmed that I was burning mainly fat the entire way.

Now, this does not necessarily mean that I’ll win any ultras, or even progress to a competitive level in the trail scene. There are high schoolers that could do this run with me. Encouraging, but nothing truly special. It was the sheer improvement over those 2 weeks that made me giddy with excitement. If only 2 weeks can produce this result, what could months of consistent training this way do?

That’s something I won’t know for a while, but I’d love it if you stuck around with me for this journey.

Keep getting better

Dylan Sykes

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