Hello to everyone. I know it has been a long time since my last blog, in fact, about a year. So much has occurred within that time, some good, some not so good. Let me bring you up-to-date. After returning from Antarctica and the completion of my 7 marathons on 7 continents life seemed pretty good. I was back to training for my next adventure, the 4 Deserts and a new challenge that would test everything that I have to complete. Not only was I going to participate in these adventure races but decided to attempt to become the first woman in the world to complete them in one year! My mission again was to retain the help of experts in various fields. Keith Brantly, my running coach, again would be guiding my training along with Jill Gass my cycling/cross training coach. However, for this endeavor I needed to find the very best nutritionist, one who was sport specific and one who understood the nutritional needs of endurance athletes. My search led me to Bob Seebohar who not only is an expert with 20 years as a sports nutritionist but who, himself, is an endurance athlete. After our initial conversation I knew that this would be the exact right fit and possibly the most crucial element to allow me to achieve my goal.
In April of 2009 while training, the injury that I had sustained somewhere during my 7 continents run began to resurface. Many weeks of continued running on what appeared to be the torn plantar fascia not only became excruciatingly painful but I noticed that my ankle was swelling about twice the size of what it should have been. X-rays were taken, MRI was taken and still no exact diagnosis given. I continued to try to run until it became very clear that something absolutely was not right. Off to my orthopedic who took another MRI and low & behold the final diagnosis…stress fracture!! I was immediately shut down, put on crutches and a boot for 3 months or what seemed like forever. Although I was happy to know the answer to what had eluded me for so long I was also not happy about sitting around. One thing I did find out was how inefficient I am at getting around on crutches; in fact, I am actually very inept at balancing on those things. Breaking another leg was surely in my future if I didn’t figure out how to maneuver around with them. At this point I began to use alternative ways to keep my physical conditioning in tact. Going backward and losing what I had worked so hard to gain was not an option. Running with a weighted belt in my pool took the place of running out doors…singing and blaring the radio outside helped to keep me from going crazy. In the weight room I worked on conditioning that would not put any pressure on or around the fractured area so was able to focus on core and other functional areas that might have been under conditioned. By being creative, thanks to Jill & Keith, I was able to keep my strength so that when it was time to return to training the impact of the downtime was manageable.
It was during this time that Bob & I began the process of restructuring my nutrition. The goal, to get my body metabolically fit so that it would utilize my fat stores before tapping into my carbohydrate stores. What this meant for me was to 1st test to find out at what optimal pace my body burned fat and 2nd, with these tests gather other numerical information that only the expert Bob could decipher. When I saw the numbers and graphs it was like “Greek” to me. I was happy to just have him explain in layman’s terms what it all meant and exactly what I needed to do. So, tests taken, information gathered, now time to change the nutrition to make the necessary changes. From that moment forward food as I knew it would never be the same. It would, however, pleasantly become more enjoyable with less stress connected to it. Food should not be stressful but for me it always seemed to be. I continually worried about gaining too much weight or during race mode, how many carbohydrates would I need to get me through. I had always subscribed to the 3-day prior carbo-loading regime when racing. For three days before competition I methodically ate the exact (or what I had calculated as the exact) ratio of proteins to carbohydrates at the prescribed daily intervals. It was absolutely more food than I would eat during a normal day, becoming almost a chore to put down. Now to my surprise and, in the beginning, somewhat skeptical, I was asked to eat only lean proteins, fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. No starches as I was to get all of my carbohydrates from fruits & vegetables…gone were the potatoes (which I love,) breads (almost as good as desert to me) and anything that resembled sugar…NO pies, cakes, ice cream…that was ok but wow, warm bread & butter…OUT!!!
During my training runs I was asked to use only water & electrolytes, no more Accelerade, my crutch. In the beginning, I have to admit, I found myself walking because I had no energy. My weekly call to Bob a bit frantic as I asked if this was what was suppose to happen, couldn’t I just take in some carbs because I’m bonking? His very calm but encouraging answer, keep working with this, it will change. It took about one month before I became comfortable and my attitude began to change. In my future blogs I will always incorporate the nutritional information on what I used during a race, the effect and outcomes, so stay tuned for some very exciting and groundbreaking news!