This year, Allegra, a former middle-of-the-pack runner, is committing to improving her times. Allegra is not the type to brag– she’ll always be brutally honest about how her running is going. It doesn’t always go so smoothly. Each week, she reveals one confession about her training. This week, she’s confessing what happened when she took on two workouts while fasting.

Allegra Feb. 25

Confession: I’ve become that crazy person who will follow coach’s orders and run two hard workouts in one day, while fasting. I’m going to tell you the story of the ridiculous day when this happened.

12:37 a.m.: I’m feeling good. I have yet to open my eyes, but I’m ready to take on the hellish workout. I open my eyes, see the clock, am stunned and attempt to go back to sleep as quickly as possible.

3:32 a.m.: What is this, Christmas morning? Why the hell can’t I just enjoy my seven hours?

RELATED: Confession: I don’t get enough sleep

5:20 a.m.: The silent alarm on my Fitbit goes off. I open the curtains to see SNOW. It’s he first snow in what, weeks? Just my luck. I brush teeth and throw on my clothes.

5:45 a.m.: I’m out the door. It’s not as cold as I anticipated but the wind and blowing snow is already disheartening.

6:01 a.m.: With the slush on the ground and and wind blowing in my eyes, it’s clear I’m not going to hit my paces. I’m trying to focus on my friend Miguel, who has agreed to pace me. It feels like a sprint.

6:35 a.m.: I’m trying to distract myself by guessing whether I’ll stop breathing first or just throw up. I can’t remember ever being this exhausted. I am on the verge of quitting for the entire 6K. I keep hearing Miguel announce the pace each kilometre and it’s 10 seconds slower than it should be. I thank the running gods when I catch a red light just before the final hill.

6:36 a.m.: The 2K cool down has never felt so good.

6:45 a.m.: Time for coffee (black) with my crew as we commiserate, high-five and dread the day ahead. Hangs like this are among the reasons why I run.

8:11 a.m.: I spend my 40-minute commute thinking about the fish tacos and craft beer I’ll enjoy post-run tonight with the team.

9:34 a.m.: I text my teammates about food and general fasting suffering. It’s going to be a long day.

RELATED: Confessions of a middle-of-the-pack runner

11:37 a.m.: My memories of the run this morning’s deadly workout are starting to fade. I think it must be similar to how women forget about the pain after giving birth so that they do it again.

12:25 p.m.: I can hear people in our office kitchen microwaving their lunch. I close the door.

1:00 p.m.: I munch on a handful of roasted, unsalted almonds. I’m miss the salt. They taste dusty and underwhelming.

2:52 p.m.: There’s lots going on at work so I’m mildly pleased at how quickly the day is flying by.

3:41 p.m.: I get a little woozy. Luckily I saved one, lone almond from lunch for such an emergency.

4:49 p.m.: It’s less than two hours now before go time. Before leaving the office I eat the hard boiled egg I’ve salivated over all day. It’s the thing that will get my body through this workout.

5:42 p.m.: I arrive home. The sidewalks at least seem to be fairly clear for the workout I’m about to do.

6:32 p.m.: Ready to get the workout over with, I shuffle into the rec centre and see my fellow runners looking as anxious as I do. We’re all hungry and tired. After one final pep talk from our coach, we’re off doing our warm up.

6:49 p.m. – 7:12 p.m.: Our workout is 5 x 5:00 at 10K pace with 2:00 minutes recovery. With the conditions, I’m aiming for this morning’s pace but on the first, I take off way too fast. I’m slowing towards the end but not feeling the hunger or exhaustion just yet. I aim to slow down for the next. By the third, I’m surprisingly faster now but my legs are starting to feel heavy. During the fourth, I’m fighting. I can’t even look at my watch. My legs are burning. My stomach is queasy. My watch beeps. It’s all over.

7:15 p.m.: I’m gasping my way back towards the start line. People are filing in and we hug, high-five, and grimace. For once, we don’t focus on our paces. We’re all reveling in the fact that we did it.

After the run: Post run beers + food = fabulous. I ordered a huge plate of fish tacos and two pints of Sawdust City beer (it didn’t hit me too hard). One thing I love about our group is the diversity. There’s about a 40 year gap between the oldest and youngest runner and the speed ranges from a 4:30 to a 3:10 marathon. What brings these people together is a shared commitment to work harder than we ever have to accomplish a goal. Even if that means running the two hardest runs I’ve ever done for a total of 20K, on the same day, with barely any food.

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1 Comment

  • While I would not normally comment on training decisions made by others, I feel like this one warrants a mention. The idea of fasting for training is pretty extreme. It is probably something that top athletes could do if they have maxed out their total running volume and altitude training, and have nothing to do during the day but recover from training. It’s really not a good idea for recreational runners, and certainly not on a work day.

    There are many other, safer alternatives that can help with fat burning metabolism (the goal of fasted training is to teach your body to run fast while depleted). The simplest is to do your Sunday long run before breakfast. If you really wanted to make sure you are depleted, you could do a Saturday night run after dinner, and a Sunday morning run before breakfast. At least then you’d be sleeping through the recovery and other than the timing of the workouts, you’re not changing your eating schedule.

    But you have to question why anyone in the 3:10 to 4:30 marathon range would need to do this. Even for the 3:10 runner, adding more easy running, either by extending recovery runs, or adding runs (doubles are a great idea, just make sure you actually eat in between!) is a great way to increase the training load.

    As much as there is something to be said for the social factor of “suffering together” you don’t need to take the risk of a fasted workout to get that. Knowing you are doing doubles is probably intense enough.

    It’s very much against protocol and politeness for one coach to call out another coach’s methods, but in this case I decided to say something, because the session made it to a public blog, where others may read it and think they should try it too. The danger of copying the training of others is not knowing the context of individual workouts. As presented here, this looks like a terrible idea. Perhaps that is exaggerated for effect, and there were some supports in place to make it safe. Maybe there is a good reason why 20k fasted was determined to be a better idea than 30k fuelled. I don’t know. It just seems like a really bad idea to me.

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