Thursday, December 15, 2011

Paleo Fueling for Interval Training

Everyone knows that training hard burns through glycogen fast. You can do a lot of slow, easy miles while using primarily fat for fuel, but start to pump up the intensity and your body switches to glycogen. That means when a hard, fast, interval workout is done, you need to replace that glycogen in your body.  Plenty of people have told me that you just can't do that adequately on a paleo diet, but most of my training right now is intervals and intensity.

On my Endurance Nation Out-season plan (I'm on week 7), I'm doing a lot of long "FTP" (functional power threshold) intervals. These are 1/2 - 2 mile repeats on the run, and 10 - 20 minute intervals on the bike, all at just around the lactate threshold region. So they're not all-out sprints, but they are very intense for quite a long duration. In addition to that, I'm training at the karate dojo for five or six hours a week, and throwing in a couple of swims for good measure. So I'm asking a lot of my body, and there are times when I'm simply ravenous for carbs.

I've learned to keep a good supply of quick, easy carbs on hand for post-workout refueling. This includes fruit leather and Lara bars for on-the-road snacking, and bananas, yams, oranges, and frozen cherries and berries for at home. I now cook up 3 - 4 yams at a time, mash them and leave them in my fridge for immediate consumption. I also ran out of bananas one day and made my Banana-Coconut custard with yams instead. It was a little more bland, but I added some pumpkin pie spices which made it quite tasty and it fit the pre-workout fueling needs just fine.

Another variation on the custard recipe is to throw in some coconut flour and some blueberries. This makes it into a blueberry-muffin-like consistency and makes for an easy-to-travel snack.

Is any of this as easy as grabbing a bowl of cereal or a Powerbar? No, quite frankly, it's not. Paleo takes some prior planning, grocery shopping ahead of time, and ensuring that the fridge and cupboards are filled with quick and easy Paleo carbs to refuel after those tough workouts. But by putting forth just that little bit of effort, I'm ensuring that my recovery from these hard intervals is quick and complete. I can feel totally trashed after a hard effort, sure I won't be able to walk the next day, and yet when I wake up the next morning I feel just fine, ready to hit it hard again.


Eddy said...

I wouldnt say paleo is necessarily more effort! bananas are as quick as a snack bar, and potatos can be precooked and stored in the fridge! :) Im not an expert on glycogen stores, but I was under the impression that it took several hours endurance to actually depete glycogen and need urgent refueling. I know intervals boost metabolism in a big way, but can I ask how much postworkout carb you take? and do you have any DOMS issues or strategies?

hlmcconnell said...

your posts are making me feel more encouraged that I can do this on the Paleo diet and stick to it. thank you for your posts! Any advice and help is great!