MY re-entry into RACING!

I did my first half marathon in three years and learned a few things about how to train, fuel and perform to be my best!

This past Sunday, I participated in my first half marathon “race” since maybe January 2018 at the Carlsbad Half Marathon.  Even though I have done some races for fun since my “METABOLIC CHAOS” started in March 2013, I really haven’t RACED my best since the start of 2013.  My internal health started to unravel and reveal itself in March 2013.  WHY?

Perhaps my personal burnout and breakdown of my body systems started because I was doing all the “right things”- but TOO MUCH.

Which is why my moto is “LESS IS MORE!” today.

I was doing fasted morning workouts, I was doing Bulletproof fat coffee, I was doing low heart rate MAF training with speed work, I was doing strength training, HIIT, Yoga, and “active recovery” days.

I was doing low carb and probably in nutritional ketosis if we knew what that was back then and had methods as Keto Mojo to test and not guess.

Fast forward to July 18th, 2021, in my new hometown San Diego (North SD), I participated in the SD Half Marathon with 5,000 other people who haven’t probably raced for at least a 1 ½ years due to the pandemic.

As a low carb athlete for many years, I have learned how to train and race without requiring much fuel BUT I also am curuios to experiment with different kinds of fuel as well as carb timing.

I actually don’t do well eating before exercise but I have been experimenting for years with liquid calories as adding MCT oil, grass-fed butter and a splash of organic heavy cream to my French Press organic coffee – and now I mix it all together with MUD/WTR coffee alternative drink.

This past Sunday, I did my “FAT COFFEE” mix with coffee, MUD/WTR, sea salt, MCT oil, 1 tbsp grass-fed butter and splash of cream in the blender to make a delicious pre-race fuel drink.

Recently, I was learning from the author of MINERAL FIX to add 2000 mg of sodium and 5g of glycine to water 90-minutes before hot weather exercise … so I have been doing that myself plus adding in a scoop of Kion Aminos.  I tried this on Sunday before our half marathon.

My drink 90-minutes before race that I sipped on:

  1. One packet of LMNT
  2. Glycine 3 grams
  3. Kion Aminos- 1 scoop

Both drinks on the drive to the race were a little too much liquid in my sensitive belly so again “LESS IS  MORE” with my body!

I have also been experimenting with taking VESPA 30-minutes before a long run and now my race to help my body burn fat.

What is VESPA? 

Listen to my past podcasts with PETER DEFTY on the benefits of VESPA.

Learn more on the history of VESPA here:

“VESPA is an innovative product that encourages fat utilization which is crucial to endurance athletes. … So, an all natural product that stimulates muscle fat utilization and conserves muscle glycogen is an important part of our nutrition plan.”

“VESPA works by encouraging the muscles to metabolize fat, thus stabilizing and conserving glycogen levels. By tapping into this plentiful and readily available energy source glycogen levels can be maintained and blood lactates are reduced resulting in greater endurance, mental clarity, motor coordination and accelerated recovery.

Click here to save 15% off VESPA with code THELOWCARBATHLETE

Once we arrived at the race, we had one hour to walk around, do mobility drills then do pre-race pick ups before heading to the start line.

I didn’t eat a low carb bar even though I packed one.

I did not bring any fuel to carry on the course- water, LMNT, Redmond’s Sea Salt bottle or a gel.

The weather that day was extremely humid and hot for a San Diego summer day- as I found out the race is normally in the spring in March!

Next time I race in a hot weather race- I would practice training with LMNT salts in two Fuel Belt bottles and freeze them over the night before.  Plus I would take a good gel with aminos – which I need to research what is available since I haven’t been “racing” for a few years for carb timing as this race was definitely a high heart rate race even though I wasn’t moving that fast with the hot weather.

Back in the day, I did race in multiple hot weather Ironman races, as Kona, and other triathlons in the hot summers but I would take my “pill bag” with Hammer Nutrition Electrolytes, Aminos and Race Cap Supreme.  I would usually run with a handheld bottle or Fuel Belt as I often need more hydration that the race gives you every two miles!!

My race strategy, not being in distance running shape even thought I have been “training” for endurance runs on Sundays the past year, was to at a run comfortable pace for the first 8 miles (while everyone else is breathing heavy and completely anaerobic) then pick up to “Race Pace” speed the last 5 miles.  Well, the hills started around mile 8 and the heat started to pick up – or rather the lack of proper hydration for my needs started to kick in so the plan changed to just finish strong with trying to increase pace the last two miles as they were more downhill.  Dehydration changes all plans and efforts!!

I was happy to finish my first half marathon in years – and ignored my finish time and I didn’t even look at my heart rate, pace or splits.  Ignorance is bliss sometimes!  Just enjoy the journey.  Life is not a race!

Post race and secrets to recovery…

  1. Benefits of walking from/to car…parking far away for a good warm up and warm down
  2. Packing fuel in the car for post race and avoiding finish line crap food as our Mineral Water and Reishi Chocolate milk beverage in our ice bag
  3. Waiting to eat when hit recovery and PNS -especially on hot day with dehydration as my heart rate was elevated for an hour after the finish line!
  4. Afternoon lunch for post race meal- protein, vegetables and healthy fats as my Poke Bar bowl I made for myself with lots of ginger
  5. Afternoon recovery drink- glutamine, colostrum, Aminos including extra glycine, athletic greens, turmeric bone broth “shake”
  6. Dinner -steak and cauliflower made with bacon

Observations on the race course:

  1. Distractions: people using cell phones for music and tracking
  2. Excess gear: people running with so much “gear” as above large cell phone
  3. Pacing: people start a 13.1 mile race as if it was a 5k race
  4. Hills are your friends: people must not run hills or know the secret of run/walk

Fasting for exercise-

research findings Ben Greenfield discussed here-

  1. Women may burn more fat if eat before a workout
  2. Men may burn more fat if they fast before a workout and eat afterwards

I consume liquid calories over a meal.

Do you struggle with eating too much before a race and having any type of GI stress?

What about your energy during the race… do you pace yourself to have a negative split?

When is a good time to add some rocket fuel carbs for a Low Carb Athlete…if you have been training low carb then add in carbs on race day?

I know I was burning mostly carbs in my race as my heart rate was above my MAF fat burning training zone for sure!  I could do the race on no calories or carbs – but could I have improved my pace the last five miles when I was started to struggle or did I just need electrolytes as this was a HALF marathon (not a full).

Optimal Fat Metabolism and Carb Timing:  Peter Defty

However, I’ve worked with several fat-adapted athletes who are metabolically fit who easily tolerate 400-500g of carbs before a race, they get a huge amount of energy to sustain competition level performance, the energy to win and set records, AND it doesn’t affect their ability to metabolize fat one bit!


Fat adapted athletes can even “be naughty” (think Beer & Pizza) occasionally and get right back into Ketosis the very next day.  Why is that?


What happens is that when you get Fat-Adapted AND Aerobically fit your carbohydrate tolerance opens right up.  The key is getting the aerobic engine built on a physiology that optimizes fat metabolism not a carbohydrate (sugar) based one.   When you build that aerobic base on a fat burning physiology the benefits are huge.


Why is this possible?

OFM is NOT just about energy delivery. Energy delivery is just one aspect. Just as important is our bodies metabolize fat (lipids/lipoproteins/cholesterols) to make, maintain and repair every cell in our body. Every muscle, organ, soft tissue, fascia, hormone, enzyme is composed of building blocks delivered and based upon fats and NOT carbohydrates!


By balancing the focus on both the energy delivery and the metabolic functions of fat OFM continually builds the athlete toward achieving their Health & Performance Potential.


Benefits of being Fat Adapted include:

  1. OFM starts by building the cardiovascular system to its potential. Cardio has gotten a bum rap. Because we humans are always looking for convenient, quicker ways to get things done many athletic camps have adopted the idea Cardio development is not necessary and some even believe cardio is ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy’ without questioning the science. Our results-based work with athletes has given us a completely different viewpoint on cardio, which got me questioning the science and thinking why some camps dismiss cardio…..they actually have a valid reason to question ‘chronic cardio’ and here is why:

Article – Keto + Carbs = Fat-Adapted PERFORMANCE! – How is this possible?

The body of science on cardio is based upon a hi-carb diet…..So, ask yourself; Are the issues surrounding cardio based upon doing  cardiovascular exercise itself or is it due to doing a large volumes of exercise using massive amounts of sugar to fuel that exercise? You don’t have to be a rocket-scientist to answer that question and this is why so many hi-carb endurance athletes don’t look ‘healthy’. Bear in mind OFM does NOT favor cardio over HIIT, strength, resistance or other modalities of high intensity training because you need both cardio and intensity blended in a way that is individualized for the athletes sport and lifeload.

My next half marathon is another rescheduled race in the middle of summer/mid August- so I know it will be a hot and humid race again.

What I will be doing differently in the next month to my training?

  1. More speed work on Wednesdays but finish with hill repeats at Fletcher Cove, Solana Beach
  2. Long run Sundays- continue with starting out slower and even run 5/walk 1 minute then pick up pack on way back BUT add Fuel Belt with a packet of LMNT Salts mixed with water in each flask.
  3. Leg strength- add more into my Wednesday sessions at the gym

Stay tuned for my next VLOG on tips to train, fuel and perform as The Low Carb Athlete

Coach Debbie Potts

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