Tag Archives: energy

A Chance to Start Over

It is difficult to reflect upon the past ten days because I am now eager to discover what the next few weeks will bring. I have a chance to change my eating habits, re-form my body and recharge my running as result of this cleansing I’ve undergone.  The post I really want to write will focus on the future – my expectations and my goals. But I promised an honest reflection on my experience and so here it is:

This fast was not hard. You might find that difficult to believe, but it is true. My memories of the hunger in the first few days, the mild headaches, the cravings and other minor side-effects are already fading. They vanish like the memories of pain and exhaustion during a marathon in which you cross the finish line exhilarated at achieving some long-desired goal.

Now I am going to qualify that “not hard” statement. Refusing to eat was the easy part. As I said in an earlier post, I even felt like I was cheating when I ate the few calories that I was allowed in order to partially fuel my daily run. Lots of things were challenging during the fast, but skipping meals wasn’t one of them.

“Give it up!” you say. “If it was easy, everyone would do it.”

And you are right; I need to come clean on the hard stuff. At times, the running was physical and mental torture. I tend to look on the bright side in my Dailymile posts, but here I’ll be completely honest and say that, while I was doing it, sometimes it really felt insane to be out there running at all.

Other negatives:

The sleeplessness of the first few nights was hard on my wife and left me more drained during the following day than I really should have been. This put a crimp in my enjoyment of some of the positive effects of fasting.

For almost the entire fast, I had a very low-level pain or tightness across the front of my body between my shoulder blades and under my neck. I got used to it and it often went unnoticed.

And yes, I was tired for most of the ten days. I attribute this to my running, which consumed a lot of calories and kept my body from fully engaging its “hibernation” mode. Maintaining the high level of mental and physical energy that I was asking was a strain. A lot of people who do these fasts report an elevated energy level and I did have periods of that, but they were not long-lasting.

Oh, I almost forgot. I had to wear a lot of clothes during the fast. My body did not want to waste any calories keeping me warm!

But that is it, and so I am in a quandary; a delicate situation where I want to be careful about what I say about the positives of the ten-day fast that I concluded last night. Many of the comments I received during the fast were in the line of “Fine for you, but I could never do that.” How can I disagree without encouraging a person to do something that, if not done properly, has serious health risks? Hence this disclaimer: If you have a screw loose like me and my posts have made you consider a fast such as this, do so for your own reasons, after careful research and at your own risk. Google things like “fasting for health” and “negative effects of fasting” and make your own decision.

On to the positives! The primary, overwhelming and, to me, most miraculous effect of this fast is the elimination of almost all joint and muscle pain in my body. The laundry list of aches and pains I have accumulated at fifty-five years old include: achilles pain, knee pain, IT band soreness, arthritis/stiffness in my fingers and wrists and a variety of other tiny ailments that bother me every so often. When you start getting old, you learn to accommodate and ignore this stuff. A lot of you are in the same boat, I’m sure.

I am working at the computer now and my hands feel better than they have in years. I can massage my achilles tendons and feel no pain at all. All of the little bodily burdens that I usually ignore…  seem to have disappeared. Once again, part of this is attributable to the reduced strain on the joints, tendons and muscles as a result of the lost weight. But I am now a true believer in the cleansing and detoxification effects of fasting.

Another positive is the increase in mental toughness I believe have achieved. It should mean good things for my running. Leadville again? Maybe. Maybe more.

Although losing weight wasn’t the purpose of the fast, the sixteen-plus pounds have allowed me to start over; to rebuild. Imagine you are a skinny sophomore in high school wanting to develop into a strong, fast athlete. I’m now at the same weight at which I started high school. Yeah, I am getting carried away here, but I feel like I have that chance again. If I eat right and follow the right exercise regimen, I can, even at fifty-five, be strong and fast again.

I have also felt very productive these past ten days. Not preparing and eating meals certainly gave me extra time to get things done. New ideas for stories and blogposts were delivered regularly into my mental inbox. So much so that I need to resist getting carried away with my posts. I’m learning to store them for a rainy day.

Getting the chance to improve my act from an eating/nutrition standpoint is another big plus. All that junk is cleared out of my system. It is up to me to keep it clean. This one will be the hardest to sustain. Even ten days is not enough to rewire my brain. I still love all the food I used to love. All that stuff that I KNOW isn’t good for me. And, despite the fast, despite Leadville, despite all the hard things I’ve done in my life, I’m not as strong as I’d like to be, especially in this area. How can I go ten days resisting all food and not be able to resist the bad stuff? It’s different, believe me.

As they say, I could write a book…

Needless to say, this post has gotten too long. Where’s my editor?

In conclusion (really?) I’m certain to do this again. Maybe it will even become my annual “Fall Cleansing”.

Feel free to comment or ask questions

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Running fast – Day 9, What’s missing?

This fast started as a water-only. I was allowing myself one banana a day to fuel the daily run that I was determined to keep as part of my routine. In the back of my mind, I suspect I regarded this as cheating. After six days, when the banana seemed to be a continuing problem for my stomach, I made the decision to switch to a juice fast. Now I really feel like a cheater. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, I drink five to six ounces of vegetable juice, about thirty-five calories each for a total of one hundred and five. And yet that little bit has eased my minor stomach issues and it apparently has triggered some type of resurrection, running-wise.

I went four and one-quarter miles today, my longest run since I started the fast. The feeling I had while I was running is hard to describe; the background feeling of being slightly numb was present, as it has been for several days. Of course  I was tired, but somehow I also felt stronger than I have for a while, even from before the fast. I’m now sixteen pounds lighter than I was the evening I started and I’m certain that is most of the reason. My legs are carrying a full ten percent less weight than before. Imagine wearing a sixteen pound backpack for a long time and then setting it aside. All the aches and pains that I usual have to deal with while running have been conspicuously absent. Everything that requires moving is a little easier, even if there isn’t much to fuel my muscles. My mile splits were 9:40, 9:13, 8:34 and 8:37. I did work a little harder, but even that seems like a good thing; I could work harder and not feel like I would collapse.

So, what is missing? The almost spiritual feeling of lightness and serenity that I had experienced in March has not been very strong. I’m certain that the main reason is that I am so incredibly busy with getting ready for the release of my book, interacting with the publisher, getting marketing materials ready, on top of all the networking, blogging, facebooking and other social media stuff. Add in the running, and I’m not giving my mind and soul as much time to cleanse as my body is getting. I think I’ll set aside some time tomorrow to just relax and let the joy of the final day of the fast soak in.

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Running fast – Day 8, Making adjustments for everything

The prairie outside our front door. Notice the faint trail along the fence. It is one of the trails created by pronghorn antelope that we run on.

This entire, crazy, eight days of fasting has been one of adjustments. At first it was getting adjusted to the hunger pangs, then it was learning to deal with the one banana before my run and how it bothered my stomach. I’ve had to learn to wear more since my body doesn’t heat itself very well without fuel. Remembering not to stand up too quick has been an important adjustment. Next, it was realizing that the banana just wasn’t working out, learning about juice fasts and then adjusting to that. Lately I’ve found it harder to make myself drink enough water.

And, all along, I’ve had to deal with the energy-zapping load of running every day.

Until today.

It was cloudy, twenty-four degrees and almost no wind. My pace felt a little quick when I started but I let it go since I could tell that I had more energy than yesterday. The prairie had received an additional dusting of snow and the path was slippery. My legs had adjusted to the lower weight, so the light, prancing feeling that I had for a couple of the runs was gone, but I still was running comfortably. Only a third of a mile in, the tank went dry. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but on all the runs,except yesterday’s awful one, I could tell the exact moment my body ran out of what few calories I had ingested for that day. On other days it was hard to deal with and slowed me considerably. Today, it was as if my energy production system flicked a switch and immediately began using my remaining stored fat for fuel. It might be hard to believe, but I think I’m becoming hyper-attuned to my body’s functions; I swear I can tell the difference between when it is burning those few carbs and when it is burning fat.

This run was, by far, the best, most sustained effort during the fast. My mile splits were 9:50, 9:12 and an 8:35 pace for the last .45 of a mile. I have taken in a total of approximately 630 calories during the last seven days and fourteen hours. On my runs alone I have burned about 2400 calories, the equivalent of what I burn on an average day. I find it amazing that I was able to accomplish a run like this.

I’ve had some runs that felt good on my legs, because of the reduced weight and I was even able to get in some strides. Yes, I skipped my banana yesterday, but that two-plus miles was tremendously hard considering that I think of myself a long distance runner… long meaning marathon length or longer. So I was thinking that the succeeding days would only get harder.

So there is no explanation for today. Granted the six ounces of V-8 that I had an hour before I ran was much easier on my stomach and may have meant less energy going to the digestive process. But the amount was about thirty-five calories, exactly a third of what is in the banana it was replacing. I also had another good night of sleep, which I am sure helped.

What am I saying? Of course there is an explanation. My experience reinforces my belief that the human body is a tremendously adaptable, resilient and strong vessel. It may have limits, but very few people ever discover what those limits are. Even now, I know I haven’t reached them.

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Feeling the love

Many people who have fasted for this long have raved about the energy they have during the later part of a ten-day (or longer) fast. And there is indeed a feeling of “aliveness”  that I am enjoying right now. But I certainly don’t feel as if I have the ability to sustain any moderate or hard effort for a very long period. The energy is a spiritual and mental one, not physical. My run this morning was tough, and not just because of the thirty mile-per-hour wind gusts. Thanks to my son-in-law Sid who ran with me “just in case”, I was able to get through it; I even put in six strides during the run and the overall pace was faster than my shorter runs earlier in the fast. Still, a soul-deep exhaustion set in shortly after we started and it took a lot of willpower to go that distance.

One of the thoughts that I am having is that my daily banana that was intended to provide me with a little energy for my run is not very effective and may be detrimental. I’m not a physiologist, but I wonder if some of my body’s resources are being diverted to digestion and therefore causing me to feel more tired during the run. Even if this isn’t true, it sure isn’t setting well on my stomach.

As a result of some other blogs I have read this morning (like these- The Right Way to Fast & Getting Juiced) I am considering switching to a juice fast and eliminating the banana. A juice fast supposedly gives you better detoxification than a water-only fast.

I did sleep very well last night for the second night in a row and feel as though I should be able to accomplish everything that is required today.

In addition to many Dailymile  and writing friends that are following my fast, I now have some other people who are fasting that I discovered by searching tags in WordPress. The comments and encouragement I’ve gotten is rewarding and a big help. Please sign up for the e-mail follow or follow through the WordPress follow button if you have one. All that positive energy that I get from knowing people are watching and rooting for me will be needed in the days ahead.

There is a lot of fascinating history to fasting and I plan on blogging about that tomorrow. I’m still having trouble motivating myself to blog about the negative side-effects of blogging. I’m experiencing some, but I really don’t feel like dwelling on them.

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