4 In Fitness

Half Marathon Training on a Paleo Diet: Part 1

“Half marathon training on a Paleo diet – is that even possible?”… I hear you ask.

“Don’t you need to carb load? And how do you balance your electrolytes?”.

These are just a few of the questions I got asked last year by my nearest and dearest before running my first ever half marathon.

To be honest nutrition wasn’t really at the forefront of my mind – I was too busy thinking about how I was going to pull off running 13.1 miles after just two weeks of training on the dreadmill.  It didn’t help that two days before race day, in a rather mortifying debacle, my legs ‘stopped working’ and I ended up being carted off to A&E in an ambulance because they thought I’d had… wait for it… a stroke. Yes, really. (I’ll have to go there another day!)

But the truth is nutrition never felt like an issue for me, I always felt like I had enough energy to go the distance, my muscles didn’t burn, and no I did not poop myself on my high fat diet. And what was my time for my very first half marathon? A fairly respectable 02:20:11 – not an amazing time but after two weeks of solid long distance training I was elated to have done that well. For the first time in my life I actually wasn’t annoyed at myself for not doing better at something.

If you’re wondering – the median half marathon finishing time for females was found to be 2:19:47, with an average age of 35.6, in a 2013 US study.


A rather cheesy photo of me holding my finisher medal after my half marathon!

I’ll be honest with you now, the first 12 miles weren’t really all that bad, in fact I would kind of go so far as to say that they were a little bit easy.  But when that last mile hit me, my legs kind of gave up, they were ready to go home, and all of a sudden I started to question my own sanity. I remember trudging along at a snail’s pace until the finishing line came into sight and I finally attempted, what in my mind I thought was an epic run, but looking back at the photographic evidence it was in fact more of a shuffle. And hey presto, just like that, I’d completed my ever first half marathon.

Then something overwhelming hit me – I could do this again! In fact, I believe my exact thoughts were – “I’m a f***ing legend… I’m so doing a FULL marathon…”.

Not my finest use of the English language I must admit, but give me a break I’d just ran 13.1 miles around sunny Leeds (it actually was sunny for once, that wasn’t sarcasm). But anyway, I was certainly on to something. I really could run a full marathon if I wanted to, and I did plan to do so but the launch of Primal Eye took over, and my running dwindled into a non-existent vortex of bulls***.

But now I’m back baby, and I’m into my 2nd week of training for my 2nd half marathon. Oh and I’m OUTSIDE too – take that dreadmill!

Although I am getting dragged around by my husky Luna, and the weather is as cold as an arctic blizzard, it feels great to be outside running and challenging myself again. I’ve also got high hopes to take my training further after race day and complete the Yorkshire Marathon in October!

This time I will be training over a 12 week period – and sharing every little thing, good and bad, along the way with you.

In a series of fortnightly posts I will be documenting a daily breakdown of what I eat, how I train, what gear I’m using, if I lose or gain any weight, and of course my emotional journey along the way in the hopes that this will help those of you wanting to long distance run, whilst following a Paleo diet.

I’ll also be raising money for Mind – the mental health charity along the way. So if you’d like to donate just text GOSA60 £1 (or whatever amount you’d like) to 70070, or alternatively click the button below. Thanks guys <3

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

So come back every fortnightly Saturday, and you’ll find something new and exciting to read! Have you fueled a half marathon Paleo? How did you find it? Why not share your experience below.

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  • Reply
    MrsB | Mind over Matter
    27th February 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Sweet potatoes have all the carbs you need for marathon training, half OR full. I have also had some rice when training for mine but no other carbs – no pizza, pasta, bread, etc. All of these things mess with my digestion so they do me more harm than good.

    • Reply
      1st March 2016 at 9:51 am

      Hey there! I agree – last year I remember eating mainly sweet potatoes, to be honest that’s all I actually eat as I follow a Paleo diet. The funny thing is I didn’t really need to increase my carb intake by that much which I can’t wait to write about in my next post! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your training secrets 🙂

  • Reply
    Margaret @ youngandrungry
    2nd March 2016 at 2:38 pm

    I love reading this because I get the same questions and feel the same way all the time! I’ve been a runner my whole life, but when I first started eating paleo I don’t know if it even crossed my mind if it was going to be possible or not! I was just so focused on cleaning up my diet to become faster, I didn’t even think about the decrease in carbs, but it worked like a charm and I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

    • Reply
      3rd March 2016 at 7:58 am

      Hey Margaret! I know right? It’s so funny that people can’t get their heads around the nutritional aspects of Paleo. Fat is so much more of an efficient fuel than carbohydrates – especially refined ones! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience – great to know that I’m not alone 🙂

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