T Nation

Diet Making Me Slower?

Dear T-Nation,
I run HS track and I’m troubled because I’ve lost 4 or 5 seconds off of my 400m time. At the first time trial early in the season (Feb 4th - maybe 2/3 weeks after pre-season ended) I ran a 53 which, while not amazing, was alright for being an early benchmark. Now, about a month and a half later I’m averaging ~57s at meets.

I was on Joel Marion’s Cheat to Lose diet (it’s the AD with only one carb-up day and a tapered carb increase from Tues -> Friday) at the time and I’m still on it. I’m guessing that I eat about 3-5k calories daily, but it occurred to me yesterday (after feeling terrible and heavy in my race) that maybe this diet and quantity of food is not optimal for running…

(I had 3 or 4 chicken breasts in spicy curry for lunch at 1:30, and my race was unusually early, maybe 5:20 pm). Now I usually eat this way (except lightly peppered beef or chicken instead of spicy curry) and don’t feel so bad at meets, so I’m guessing this isn’t what is really responsible for me being so slow, but maybe if I have a more appropriate track and field diet then I’ll be able to recoup some of those lost seconds.

My (brief) reading (and traditional knowledge) suggest carbs the morning of the meet tapering down to a small snack maybe an hour before my race with protein following the race.

I always pack a Surge w/ creatine, so I’m guessing I have the second and third portions covered, but I’m not so sure about carbs the morning of… I really like being on a low carb diet because I never get cravings or feel my blood sugar drop.

We have meets twice a week and I usually carb-up on Saturday (one of the meet days). I’m probably moving this to Friday, because then I would get the full day’s worth of carbs instead of just the maybe 4 or 5 hours prior to the meet [besides which it is awkward to eat a lot at meets since they have a rolling schedule].

Other info: I have flat feet, I’ve been running in vibram five fingers all season, I ice my lower legs most days to ward off shin splints, I haven’t been lifting during track season because my coach told me explicitly not to, and on Feb 4 I clean and jerked 135 6x4 with a minute rest b/t sets (baby numbers, whatever).

Ok, if you have any experience or ideas as to why I’m so fucking slow, please spill them… TIA.

Also, I think I’m doing something wrong. When I ran 53s I was tired and chilling. I could’ve pushed harder but I didn’t really care about the time trial. Maybe that was the difference between that run and the rest of my 400s. I’ve been trying to think of anything that might be different now from earlier in the season.

I just came off of being sick for a week and ran a 56.5 yesterday (the idea being that during that week all I did was rest, so I should’ve been as not-fatigued as ever). I’m going to start taking my fiber and Superfood to school so that I can unload a #2 before I run everyday, I’ve started taking BCAAs peri-workout again (I had run out)…

this is just really disappointing, especially since we’re meant to be peaking in the next few weeks and I’m running these 57s while my peers are working on 49 and 50.

Have you gained weight?

How has training been before and after the 53 seconds?

Some people find they run good if they are actually physically “hungry”, they use it for aggression.

Some feel good with light carb up. I think overdoing the carbup is not going to be good in this environment.

4 seconds is a lot, if anything you should’ve gained a second or two.

How is your strength in comparison?

Also do not discount you have a mental block whats not letting you compete.

I told a 100m guy, whose trying to get faster.

“You gotta want to hit your competitors over the head with a hammer out the line. You should be so anxious that you almost want to go bash his head in…”

Of course I’m not promoting violence in sports, but these are violent events that require a huge amount of excitement.

I feel as strong as I did when I ran 53 (Feb 12). My coach has had us running things like 6x600m with a 200m recovery at ~80%. Today we ran 4x250 at ~90%, but that’s because we had a meet yesterday (otherwise the distance/repetitions would have been greater).

I fluctuate around 155lbs (but wtf right now I weigh 150 flat. Maybe being sick for a week?) and I think most of that weight is in my legs.

If you were asking about lifting numbers… I don’t have accurate lifting numbers. two years ago I got my back squat to 315 hams to calves and then decide I wanted to try single leg movements and o-lifts.

The last time I power cleaned was November 14 and I did 6x4@165 (60s rest). Apparently I thought it was medium-hard (which in my log means that next week I would go up 5 lbs but maybe work with 8x3 instead of 6x4).

[quote]Adell wrote:
I feel as strong as I did when I ran 53 (Feb 12). My coach has had us running things like 6x600m with a 200m recovery at ~80%. Today we ran 4x250 at ~90%, but that’s because we had a meet yesterday (otherwise the distance/repetitions would have been greater).

I fluctuate around 155lbs (but wtf right now I weigh 150 flat. Maybe being sick for a week?) and I think most of that weight is in my legs.

If you were asking about lifting numbers… I don’t have accurate lifting numbers. two years ago I got my back squat to 315 hams to calves and then decide I wanted to try single leg movements and o-lifts.

The last time I power cleaned was November 14 and I did 6x4@165 (60s rest). Apparently I thought it was medium-hard (which in my log means that next week I would go up 5 lbs but maybe work with 8x3 instead of 6x4).[/quote]

My freshman football coach gave me the best advice for gaining speed.

Flexibility+power=More speed

I got super flexible, gained a ton of muscle, and ended up going from a 5.3 second 40 yard dash my freshman year to a 4.52 my senior year.

Gain muscle, get your squat numbers up, stretch.

Honestly if your doing a lot of long distance running in practices, you could be lacking carbs and fats which would give you a lot less energy

155 lbs, and back squatted 315 ATG?

Agree with above. I’m not familiar w/ the diet you’re on, but it sounds like you’re only really taking in carbs the day of one of your meets. If you don’t have carbs most of the time, your training intensity is going to be lower than if you had a sufficient amt of carbs, especially if you are running 400-600 meters repeatedly.

Bodybuilding diets aren’t optimal for athletes who must run repeats of 600 M. I would try adding carbs to your diet throughout the week, and see how you respond in training and in meets.

From what these guys are saying, keep the protein like your doing. Switch to normal carbs intake.

everybody is different. i am a lot faster low carb high fat. i feel strong but light. carbs make me feel sluggish.

One thing a bodybuilder diet WILL do. It’ll change bodycomp faster than any other diet.

So if you are a track guy, and your fat or have too much fat. Doing the body building style to get bodycomp changed makes sense.

Outside of that, I’d talk with the track stars websites. We all are saying “too many carbs” will not be benefitial. You have to find the right amount for you.

I’d also have a protein shake after practices, can’t hurt. Whatever you “tear up” in practice I can’t imagine that you don’t want that to come back stronger and better than before.

Also I found eating an orange gets me some quick energy after a training session, like in 5 to 10 minutes.

So might have on hand during training, if you got stripped in the middle of your training eat the energy source to keep going at a high intensity.

[quote]waylanderxx wrote:
My freshman football coach gave me the best advice for gaining speed.

Flexibility+power=More speed

I got super flexible, gained a ton of muscle, and ended up going from a 5.3 second 40 yard dash my freshman year to a 4.52 my senior year.

Gain muscle, get your squat numbers up, stretch.[/quote]

Thanks.

Just to clarify, I eat carbs every day except for Sunday, slowly increasing through the week until Friday, and then on Saturday I carb-up. I take: 2 scoops of Surge with 5g creatine (before, during, and after running), 6 Beta-7s 8hrs apart, 18 BCAAs (b,f,and after running), 9 S!Caps (3g Sodium and 189mg potassium), ~15g insoluble fiber, ~15g soluble fiber, 2 scoops Superfood, 4-5 liters of water, and anywhere from 3-5k calories in chicken, tuna, cheese, beef, eggs, and tapioca pudding (carbs).

If you have something relevant to getting faster that you’ve read, learned, or experienced, please share it with me. I believe I am well informed in terms of “general information.” I know that fiber, protein, and lipids take longer to digest than carbs (in that order too, no?), that things that digest more slowly tend to have a lower insulin index rating, that carbs eaten in a carb-depleted state will be converted to glycogen and sent to muscles and then the liver, etc. If you have personal experience with running while on a low-carb diet, I would love to hear from you (as per duddy).

[quote]djrobins wrote:
Also do not discount you have a mental block whats not letting you compete.

I told a 100m guy, whose trying to get faster.

“You gotta want to hit your competitors over the head with a hammer out the line. You should be so anxious that you almost want to go bash his head in…”
[/quote]

thanks, I just noticed this part. I am not sure, but this may be a large part of my problem. I have no idea how I would’ve developed a mental block and I was definitely relaxed on my first time trial, but this might be key to being speedier again.

[quote]Adell wrote:
Just to clarify, I eat carbs every day except for Sunday, slowly increasing through the week until Friday, and then on Saturday I carb-up. I take: 2 scoops of Surge with 5g creatine, 6 Beta-7s 8hrs, 18 BCAAs, 9 s!caps (Sodium and potassium), ~15g insoluble fiber, ~15g soluble fiber, 2 scoops Superfood, 4-5 liters of water, and anywhere from 3-5k calories in chicken, tuna, cheese, beef, eggs, and tapioca pudding (carbs).

If you have something relevant to getting faster that you’ve read, learned, or experienced, please share it with me. I believe I am well informed in terms of “general information.” I know that fiber, protein, and lipids take longer to digest than carbs (in that order too, no?), that things that digest more slowly tend to have a lower insulin index rating, that carbs eaten in a carb-depleted state will be converted to glycogen and sent to muscles and then the liver, etc. If you have personal experience with running while on a low-carb diet, I would love to hear from you (as per duddy).
[/quote]

Every time I had to run something for time, I preferred to just have like a little gatorade beforehand, not much solid food. I get sleepy after I eat. Just having liquids, and an empty stomach kept me anxious. Also we always ran against someone else and I tried to just get as pissed off as possible at that person for some random reason. Helped me out.

I just noticed your bodyweight, 150lbs after getting sick where you bounce between 155-160lbs normally.

That could be it alone. Don’t discount weight loss taking you out of your “zone”.

“It’s gotta be the shoes”
-Mars Blackmon

Sorry to hear you have flat feet. A lot of people do. Probably a lot of people who run <50 400m times. I’ve never seen or heard or anyone doing anything impressive in those five finger things. I think that’s it. That and not lifting is making you weaker, and weaker=slower.

I doubt it that’s complicated really.

“It’s gotta be the shoes”
-Mars Blackmon

Sorry to hear you have flat feet. A lot of people do. Probably a lot of people who run <50 400m times. I’ve never seen or heard or anyone doing anything impressive in those five finger things. I think that’s it. That and not lifting is making you weaker, and weaker=slower.

I doubt it’s that complicated really.

RebelSell: I was using them because Dan John (or maybe someone else) had written about how they made his feet a bunch stronger, but I have started racing in my spikes again (the only reason I don’t usually is because they are too narrow and I get large blisters along the sides of my feet).

waylanderxx: I ate less before a time trial race yesterday, and I think that may have helped.

djrobins: I’m planning on squatting a bunch after the season… I guess for now I’ll just have to eat big.

So your going to get alot stronger for next year. Might as well throw in plyo’s and weight vest stuff too.

Roughly how many grams of carbohydrate are you eating per day? That would make a big difference (a single cup of pudding each day, versus a quart of it). For medium distance sprint training, it is important to have sufficient glycogen stores to be able to sustain high intensity workloads. If you were getting <100 grams a day carbohydrates for even half the week, you would be compromising your performance.

[quote]Adell wrote:

Just to clarify, I eat carbs every day except for Sunday, slowly increasing through the week until Friday, and then on Saturday I carb-up. I take: 2 scoops of Surge with 5g creatine (before, during, and after running), 6 Beta-7s 8hrs apart, 18 BCAAs (b,f,and after running), 9 S!Caps (3g Sodium and 189mg potassium), ~15g insoluble fiber, ~15g soluble fiber, 2 scoops Superfood, 4-5 liters of water, and anywhere from 3-5k calories in chicken, tuna, cheese, beef, eggs, and tapioca pudding (carbs).
[/quote]