Progress.

It’s now been two solid months since I started back up with the 5k training with the goal of hitting sub 17. My current PR is from last November, at a 17:42 (5:42/mile). My coach has me running 7 days a week, hovering between 45 and 55+ miles, mixing in a couple of races for a harder effort weekend run.

I ran a new 13.1 PR at the BAA Half Marathon, of 1:28:28. This is a 17 second improvement from exactly 1 year prior, when I was much further along in my season of 5k training while still maintaining fitness through much more cycling. I took much of this summer off from hard training after the two marathons in the spring. This time around for BAA I was more in a base building phase, which showed an improvement in both fitness and nutrition. The following weekend I ran an 18:37 5k (AG win, 9th overall) which was uphill for the entire last half mile, while at UMass’ Homecoming (read: poor sleep the night before and other non-ideal race situations).

Never thought I'd be running at 9am on a Saturday here

Never thought I’d be running at 9am on a Saturday here

I’m feeling fitter than I’ve ever felt, running more miles than I’ve ever run (last week’s peak week brought me to 58) and recovering faster than ever before while my coach puts me through monster workouts (tomorrow’s is called “Big Boy” and I’m terrified). He promised me yesterday’s workout “would hurt,” which it did… More on that later. I’m leaner than I’ve been since high school and ready to throw down some speed in November. How did I get to this point? Looking inside.

Enter InsideTracker, the company I’ve now been at for a year. Health analytics at your fingertips. A way to get a gauge on the impact of how you’re training and recovering, as well as what you’re eating and how your body is absorbing nutrients. I’ve now tested 5 times with the Ultimate plan (the most popular) and the results I received this morning are the best I’ve seen so far.

I’ve been working on improving energy and endurance for the last fScreen Shot 2015-10-29 at 2.27.00 PMew months since my test in January by adding more meat, more fiber and more coffee/green tea into my routine (caffeine helps reduce glucose, up to 2-3 servings of coffee per day, but you have to be careful because it can reduce iron absorption too), as well as continuing to make quality sleep a major priority and increasing calories, mainly from protein. I’ve been eating 1-2 Oatmega bars every day, which are high in fiber as well as protein, a good source of vitamin C, and decent source of omega-3. I’ve been trying to eat more fish as well, specifically wild salmon and herring, which are quick and easy to cook or eat from a can.

Pretty much everything I focused on improving got better, with the exception of glucose (still only +3) which may be related to an increase in training intensity, or the 2-3 additional servings of meat per week which have dramatically improved the iron markers, so it’s a good trade-off. Either way, it’s close to the optimized zone and I’m not worried about it.

I’ve been playing around with our newest feature, which allows you to pick a couple of goals based on the areas that aren’t optimized, and the program puts together a list of the top 5 things to help you improve, rather than needing to prioritize on your own. It’ll also send a daily reminder via text/email to take your supplements, eat your “Focus Foods,” etc.

Goals: Boost energy, improve endurance

Goals: Boost energy, improve endurance

Customized action plan, based on what I'm actually willing to do

Customized action plan, based on what I’m actually willing to do and the areas I need to work on

The data:

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More animal protein + more calories overall = reduction in SHBG. Good for health, not necessarily athletic performance.

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More healthy fats = continued reduction in LDL cholesterol, and an increase in HDL (good cholesterol)

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By keeping vitamin D and magnesium optimized, as well as keeping sleep a (high) priority, I’ve been able to maintain high testosterone, which helps speed muscle recovery and readiness to train.

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Reversing a trend here. Optimized hemoglobin means you’re good right now. Ferritin is stored iron, meaning you’re good for the long run. It means nutritionally, you’re doing a good job. We have more control over ferritin. Hemoglobin is more training related.

The easiest to fix of them all - for 10 cents a day you can improve your power, muscle recovery and potentially improve testosterone levels (if low). Optimized Vitamin D is critical for athletes. A study on the Pittsburgh Steelers revealed that athletes with optimal levels were more likely to get/retain a contract.

The easiest to fix of them all – for 10 cents a day you can improve your power, muscle recovery and potentially improve testosterone levels (if low). Optimized Vitamin D is critical for athletes. A study on the Pittsburgh Steelers revealed that athletes with optimal levels were more likely to get/retain a contract. Many of the coaches we work with at InsideTracker use vitamin D as an indicator of athlete compliance. If an athlete can’t simply take a supplement once a day, it’s less likely they’re listening to more involved training or nutrition related guidance.

I can’t wait to put this new information to the test with a couple of races scheduled in November. I’ll continue with the changes I made from my last test, while stepping the training intensity up a bit more. I just got a new program from my coach (and passed the two year mark of working with him) which was perfect timing. He’s having some fun throwing in ridiculous track + Harvard Stadium + track workouts lately, which has led to some very slow Thursday morning recovery runs. Yesterday’s included 500’s, which I hadn’t done in a while. After going +12 on my 2nd to last rep, every excuse possible as to why I should stop passed through my mind. It’s workouts like those that build the type of mental strength that can’t be optimized through a blood test or programmed for on a schedule. They absolutely suck, but are so key to success – probably even more important than nailing every goal split of a track workout.

If you’re curious about InsideTracker and how it can help your own training, check out our free Demo, or definitely reach out!!

Just keep moving.

Just keep moving.