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Thread: Fasted Training

  1. #1

    Fasted Training

    That's fasted, not faster, sadly..

    Anyone do this? any views, informed or otherwise?

    Thought I'd try this over the w/e. Have read a bit about the whole low carb thing, and particularly fasted training in the morning, albeit mostly from ultra websites. The idea and appeal is firstly for weight loss, but also training the body to run on a higher proportion of fat. I'm not overly convinced by the evidence I've read about the latter, but if it works then it could be useful (I mostly do AL's) - hence I thought I might give it a go through the off-season and see what happens.

    So went out for a couple of hours of rolling off-road running, on literally nothing other than water (ie no coffee either - didn't want to wake the house up). Felt fine throughout, although was noticeably slower (15-30 secs/mile slower?), and I was also much colder than normal - presumably the intensity wasn't high enough to generate enough heat.

    Question is (other than does anyone else do it / does it work?) what are you meant to eat when you come home, wasted and ravenous? if you hit the toast and other carbs, does that undo all the (questionable) good work you've just done? otherwise you risk losing the rest of your day as you wander around in a low-blood sugar daze.

    Wondered what others thought? I'm not overly convinced myself. To be fair to the ultra websites who espouse it, an ultra is run at a much lower intensity than a 2-4hr fell race, so perhaps it works for that kind of exertion but not higher?

  2. #2
    Senior Member helix's Avatar
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    I did a little non-scientific experiment on this over the last 2 years.

    For the 2015 Highland Fling I used to do my long runs on a Sunday morning pre-breakfast. After the run I'd have a quick banana and glass of milk and then carry on as normal. I also did the 5-2 diet for some months and did 5 to 10 km runs on my lunch hour.

    For the 2016 Devil O' the Highlands I did my long runs on a Sunday afternoon/evening after a normal day of eating and have a normal evening meal after the run.

    The 2015 training definately worked better on the day of the race. I found that it gave me a much bigger window of opportunity to to eat without crashing. As I was trained to run on fat I could feel that I needed to eat soon but could make a decision on the when the best time to do that would be; especially as I was wanting to put in salty savoury snacks over the likes of jelly babies (it's a bit more of a faff to eat crips/sausage rolls than it is a shot block/haribo/gel etc...).

    Whereas the 2016 training left me feeling like I was going to crash unless I have a fairly constant stream of small sugary things or when I did tip over into burning fat I would feel nauseous.

    Have tried both methods; when I start my Lakeland 50 training in earnest for 2017 I will be doing fasted long runs with periods of the 5-2 diet.

    All I can say is - it works for me.

  3. #3
    but question is - which event did you perform better in? (rather than which did you feel better after training). I'm only really interested if it makes a noticeable difference when I race (despite being spectacularly mediocre and devoid of natural talent, I only run to race). Are your two races comparable - how did you do in each? Did fasted training and 5-2 work?

    Also, regardless of diet, I suspect there's a difference between running in the morning when although you may be fasted, you're otherwise pretty fresh and rested; against running at the end of the day having been on your feet all day. ie the difference in the way you felt (and performed?) could be down to other factors as well as diet?

  4. #4
    Senior Member helix's Avatar
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    They are 2 different races so hard to tell, too many factors influenced it. But having said that in training I was quicker in most of my runs when taking the fasted approach.

  5. #5
    I've always done my morning training in a fasted state. For years that was a hilly off-road run of 45-60mins at a steady/medium effort, nowadays more often it's a 45-120mins cycle with a few hills but steady state rather than trying to push the effort too much.

    I've always done it to keep the weight down, and try to boost my metabolism, although i should point out I haven't really studied the science behind it too much etc.

    For me it works, but I wouldn't like to be doing much high intensity stuff at that time or without some grub as I think i'd bonk before too long. I find for base training, it's ideal, and weight-wise it works a treat for me. I'm having a bowl of porridge with a banana in when I finish. When I do the 2hr pre-work ride, I usually need a bar or gel after 90mins to see me through to the end without bonking.

    I always prefer to do high intensity stuff in the evening so will be fuelled, but try to avoid eating for 2hrs before, unless i'm particularly tired then might have a gel or some sweets just before. I don't go in for trying to get my body to burn fat for fuel etc, horses for courses but it's not what i'm interested in. My running performance improved hugely (relatively speaking) from doing the morning runs, but can't really say if thats because they were done fasted, or because I then had time to fit in an evening session as well so was training harder! I never did anything beyond the morning in a true fasted state. I did find though that when i toed the race start line and felt like my weight was at an optimum, the confidence was there to put in a good performance.

    Like I say, I try/tried not to pay too much attention to articles etc because for every one you read there's a conflicting statement. I read one thing that said high intensity in a fasted state produced more free radicals which is apparently a bad thing, but I prefer evenings for hard sessions anyway. I just figured running early morning before breakfast saved time and also helped my weight, and I like food too much not to eat through the day before doing an evening session.

  6. #6
    Master Travs's Avatar
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    I'd echo the above post. Most of my longer sessions on a weekend morning with no breakfast, save for a small fruit juice etc. No problems with this, but my higher intensity sessions usually on a weekday evening after a meal.

    Although interestingly when I was in Thailand I would do a morning session including 10km run, skipping, and then all manner of boxing and conditioning, mostly at high intensity, on no breakfast, 6 days a week, followed by a similar afternoon session, and no problems either.

    Even during the week I never have breakfast, mainly as weight management, and going against all advice my largest meal is before bed (can't face going to bed hungry). I am around 82kg which is massive for a fell runner, however I'm 6ft 2" and my "fighting weight" was 78kg so definitely not carrying too much extra.

  7. #7
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    Until recently, the idea of running before breakfast used to fill me with horror, but I have been doing it on a few Sunday mornings over the last few months. It hasn't felt any different from running at my usual times (just before lunch or just before dinner), although I haven't done anything longer than 60 minutes before breakfast. I have little interest in its effect on my racing, given that racing is now something I occasionally fit in between injuries.

    Last Sunday morning's pre-breakfast run, in mild, humid (almost claggy) conditions was one of my best runs for months (subjectively; I just felt good). In contrast, this morning's effort (on almost the same route) in bright, frosty weather left me feeling that it would have benefitted my fitness more to be sitting on a sofa reading a newspaper. I felt lacking in energy from the start. On the ascent of Buck Hill, which is usually my favourite part of this route, I had to stop and walk because the sun was blazing straight into my eyes at a low angle, but I actually felt relieved to have an excuse for a break from running. Then, three-quarters of the way up the long climb from the Woodbrook to Beacon Hill, I was brought to a halt by a sudden twinge in a hamstring. To add insult to injury as I gingerly plodded on a few seconds later, a bloke who might have been even older than me came running across at a path junction. I did manage to start running again after a minute or two, and felt somewhat better on the descent back home. Obviously I can't blame any of this misfortune on the lack of breakfast in my stomach; it was just one of those days.

  8. #8
    When I first started running not 3 years ago it coincided with a period of me looking to loose weight. I found that by eating a diet fairly low in calories generally, but before racing switching to high carb foods, my energy levels on race day were good. I think it is because your body, when exposed to food with which it has to work hard to extract nutrition from it is fed with a much easier source of carbs, is it able to extract much more than would have ordinarily, becoming much more efficient.
    I am sure I read something about Scott Jurek doing the same.

  9. #9
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    I just don't do carbs in general and tend to run in the morning, not evening. Don't race though and I'm not a high mileage runner, but have no problem with 12 - 13 miles of hill running before eating.

  10. #10
    Master mr brightside's Avatar
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    Depends on your metabolic rate really. I can't do any form of intense physical activity for longer than an hour before i bonk. Even thinking very hard for long periods of time will make me bonk, and that isn't a joke it's for real!
    Can't climb for toffee...

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