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Overrated: Breakfast and recovery

My time in Wausau is winding down.  I'm savoring the greenway trails next to the Wisconsin River, as tomorrow will be my last jog prior to departure Friday morning. For those of you who haven't seen it, here's my photo tour of the running path from 2009:

Traveling is love/hate proposition for me.  From Italy to Wisconsin and now DC on Monday, it's all a break from the norm...and my cocoon of life where optimum training exists.  No way I have kept to a respectable diet. The ice cream and pizza are jumping down my pie hole and I'm carrying that blubber waistline again. Only redeeming master man quality at present is an ample running base, with the 90 minute efforts each morning.

So for those who think this blog is about narcissistic me, I'm adding a bit of wisdom: Breakfast before training and recovery for injuries is way overrated (FULL DISCLAIMER HERE ONLY AUTHOR'S OPINION NOT ADVISED ACTIVITY FOR READERS).

How many countless running and cycling articles have you read, where it's fully advised to ingest a healthy breakfast before a marathon or tour event?  Banana, oatmeal, bagel - insert your choice here.  But there's another side to this well worn advice:

1)  Running with a full stomach teaches your body to burn the carbs in your belly.  Without the belly fuel, your body will cannibalize itself.  That's called fat burning and it's where I want to take myself on most occasions.  Fat burning sometime hurts.  I can feel it when my body is drawing off my blubber belly and that's OK.  Easy on, hard off.  That's how it works.  Fat burning is also a longer term form of existence when endurance racing.  I can remember hearing this theory from Kenny Souza (top U.S. duathlete and RAAM racer) in the 80's.  Works then, works now.  Carbs will also spike your glycemic index and once you come off this sugar rush, you can crash.  I can't eat and run.  I bonk and it's over.  Had a Powerbar and some fruit prior to church Sunday, then tried to run at lunch time.  Four minutes later I was walking home. Done.  My body invested in the digestion of carbs not my running legs.  Also saw some recent research that stated your body does more fat burning when breakfast is ingested prior to training...then spotted another study that purported the body burns the same fat in either a fed or fasted state.   You can decide but breakfast is out for me.  I like a hard morning session then brunch (fruit and protein bar) around 10 am.

2) My other rub is advice about recovery.  Rest injuries, take days off, revert to alternative exercise, etc.  I think that a master competitor can rest and recover while training - simply knock back the pace, shorten the stride and focus on reduced foot impact.  The body and mind adapt and we can keep on keeping on.  But training every day is the essence of life and I think it's more advantage than setback.  Once again, this is my take on how to get 'er done and some may consider long periods of time off.  I'm dealing with this plantar fasciitis and gave it several months of time off, but with little improvement I have opted to power through.  

Maybe it's a time in life perspective, but most of us aren't going to run pain free ever again.  So consider the options, adapt, and make it happen for another season.  I'm not here to say it's easy.  I'm here to tell you we can overcome.


  1. Excellent blog post Tom,

    Jeff Ash pointed me towards it and, since I manage our newspaper group's outdoor website, I'll post a link to it in my blog and on Facebook.



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