The long (cold, snowy, tech failed and Paleo) 18 M run

The long run.  For those that run “races”, usually Half Marathon or longer, you are familiar with this training day.  Typically a weekend morning, were you go out for a long run, I’d say 9 miles or longer.  Mine is generally on Sundays, unless Saturday will be just that much nicer out or I have something that will prevent me from getting out Sunday morning.  This Sunday was a scheduled 18 miles, and it didn’t go according to plan, but do they ever?  Also as mentioned on this site, long runs are not Paleo “friendly” so how do I fuel, before and during a long run?

This 18 mile run, was doomed to be challenging from the start.  The weekend was calling for very cold temps and snow, so I opted to do my run Sunday after the snow had long stopped and hopefully the river pathway would be someone cleaned up.   Saturday morning was actually pretty out, but the snow started quickly so I opted to stick with the choice of moving the run to Sunday.  We also had a friend coming over around 1 PM for snacks and joint dinner cooking “date”.

Saturday was lots of socializing and way too much food, even if all Paleo and healthy, I over indulged.  Sunday morning I woke up before 7 am and was slow to start the day.  Started with hydrating, just water, nothing fancy.

Around 8 am I cooked and ate the breakfast listed below and slowly started getting ready (I’m not lying when I say slowly).  It had snowed about 6″ through Saturday night and was about 17 degrees outside (Fahrenheit) , so pretty darn cold.  I opted for a face-mask, two layers of running pants (base layer is thin, light and tight), two layers of thermal shirts (base one is compression) and a thick pair of toe socks, with 2 pairs of gloves.

Around 10 am I made it out the door, sun was out, which helped make it feel warmer, clothing did the trick, never felt cold never overheated.  I also wear an ultra running vest that allows me to carry two bottles of water on my chest as well as my phone (for music and map my run) and my fuel (also see below) but I felt heavy, maybe from the food the day before maybe from the 2 layers of everything I was wearing or the 35 ounces of water I was carrying, but add it all up and I felt heavy.  Let alone running on snow, which gives beneath your feed, a little like sand or mud.

At around 5 miles, I started to find a groove.  It was cold, but not bad, snowy but most of the path was not slippery and packed down and finally felt like I had this 18 miles handled.  At mile 6, I fueled and hydrated walking for 3 minutes (I walk while I fuel, because it’s real food and need to chew it, etc).  Things were looking fine.

At mile 7 and 8 the trail started to get bad, many areas of no plowing, so now running for large sections in basically 6 inches of snow (which is a lot like running in sand).  At mile 9 I ran out of path, literally.  No more river path available.  I found myself on fresh snow covered sidewalk, and opted to cross the road as I could see clear sidewalk.  I took my phone out to pause map my run and while waiting for the light I dropped my phone in the snow, picked it up and it was black.  Nothing.  I thought crap I just broke my phone, oh crap, I have no music and I have 9 miles to run to get back home.  I was wearing my Garmin, and it was on, so I still had GPS tracking etc.  I took my headphones off, put the phone in my ultra vest, and headed back, 9 miles, to home, sans music.

Mile 10 and 11, were in crappy conditions, as mentioned before.  At around mile 10.5, I stopped at a bathroom to pee, and checked my phone and luckily it said it needed to be charged, so I guess the cold, zapped the battery.  I was happy at that point, but unhappy because I wanted to use map my run, and had turned it on right at the start of my run, and turned on my Garmin, maybe half a mile in, so if I wanted a screen shot with 18 miles from my Garmin, I knew now that I was going to be running more then 18 miles today.

Mile 11, was the second 3 minute fueling/hydrating walk and from this point on, I knew the trail was at least mainly plowed, but still had slick snow points, but at least wasn’t like running in sand.  12 – 14 nothing eventful, I was counting down the miles and trying to find little goals, hydrate at 14, then I only have 2 miles until mile 16, my 3rd / last fueling break.  Made it to mile 16, did my 3 minutes of walking, eating, drinking water, and then started back up, knowing I was so close.  I started to get happy, knowing I could at least get to mile 17, and if I got to mile 17, then I knew I had mile 18 within my grasp.

That last mile, 17 to 18, was a good mile, did I feel physically great, no, but mentally I was excited, I had done it, 18 miles, in about 19 degrees, with no music, in the snow, and it was done!

So how do you fuel?  Typically long runs, like 18 miles would have 3 phases.  One Day or 2 before carb loading, morning of (breakfast) and during (gels, etc).  Well in Paleo, you can’t do a typical carb load so that is not in play yet, anyway for me.  So my fueling is currently 2 phases.  Breakfast (day of) and during.


We (my wife Susan and I) have discovered these sweet potato “nachos” with Avocado, jalapeno, radish, and mango from The Love and Lemons Cookbook we do alter them as they are not completely paleo, we swap out the cheese for home made basil cashew cream that Susan makes.  Cashew cream is pretty easy:

  • Soak 1 cup of Cashews in water for a least 30 minutes
  • Rinse cashews
  • Add to a blender with 1/4 cup of basil, 1/2 cup of almond milk, clove of garlic and a pinch of salt
  • Blend the crap out of it!

So you slice thin some sweet potatoes, and bake them for close to 30 minutes at 400 degrees and then add some cashew cream like you would cheese, bake for another 10 minutes.  Pull out of the oven amd add all the other toppings plus what ever else you might like (hot sauce, or salsa) and enjoy!  I’ve used this as morning fuel for two long runs successfully and love them, very delicious, and great texture.

During Run

This is the harder one when it comes to paleo ultra (or distance) running.  Typically fuel for long training runs and even races is gels.  Well, gels are not paleo friendly and after doing much online research most “supplements” just aren’t.  Also a core principal to Paleo is not eating commercially processed foods, which most packaged foods basically are.  Prior to switching to Paleo I had ordered and received Shalane Flanagan’s new cookbook, Run Fast.  Eat Slow.  For those of you who might not know her, she’s a 4 time Olympian and the cookbook is excellent.  In it I found some “energy bites”; Basically balls of blended up, dates, dried cherries, nuts, some fresh ground coffee, cacao and rolled in toasted coconut.  One is about 200 calories and I eat one of these every 5 or 6 miles while on a long run.  So far so good!  I find if I go more then 7 miles without one of these, because I’m running with no stored carbs / sugars, that I will bonk out quickly.  These bites have the quick processing nutrients and sugars needed and seem to be working for me!

That was the long, cold, snowy, tech failed 18 mile run.  Hopefully next weeks 18 miler, will be better – Bobby

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