I woke up at 5:30am (early for me!), got ready and headed out the door for a longer run (nothing like my ultra days but for my triathlon related goals this year, it was a longer run). I headed out the door at 5:45am (after doing some neuromuscular and dynamic exercises and pleading with my Achilles to wake up). This is where it gets good.
I am that athlete that absolutely needs to eat something in the morning upon waking. I am usually very, very hungry and since I teach about learning and respecting the hunger response, I practice what I preach. Except for this morning.
I wanted to test a theory and as such, I went out for a 14 mile run without eating or drinking anything beforehand. I carried a flask of Generation UCAN Vanilla with a bit of cinnamon mixed with water expecting to need it at some point along with 20 ounces of water. It was a glorious time of the day for a long run (wish I could get my body to perform well in the morning because it is gorgeous in the early hours of the day).
The first few miles felt fine. I had a bit of a tailwind and some downhills and was clipping off 7:30 miles. Mile 6 hit and I still felt good. I turned around at 7 and was questioning why I had only taken in a few ounces of water but no calories. Hmmm...I headed back (an out and back course) and was greeted with a "great" headwind and some decent hills for most of the way back home. I thought for sure that I would need some calories now due to a higher energy expenditure trying to fight through the wind and hills.
Wait for it...wait for it...wait for it...I kept repeating this in my mind envisioning myself clutching the gel flask with UCAN in it and enjoying the taste. But nothing. I listened to my hunger cues and they were not speaking. My cadence was good, body and mind felt strong and my Garmin was telling me that my performance, quantitatively, was consistent. No significant drop in pace.
My longest run thus far this season has been 10 miles so I was thinking that I would for sure need the UCAN around the 10 mark. Mile 10, 11, 12 passed and still no hunger cues or performance loss. What? As I reached home, a bit confused as how I could run 14 miles in 1:51:00 without any food beforehand, I calmly reassured myself that this is metabolic efficiency and the concept itself, while amazing, is absolutely valid for athletes.
Sport is about improving efficiency patterns from a physical perspective but why not nutritionally? Because athletes have not known this and we have been brainwashed into thinking we need a lot more calories than we really do. Train your body to be more efficient in using its stored nutrients and enjoy the health and performance benefits.