Couch to 5K
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Dreading W6R3 - tips to boost energy? Am I eating enough?

Hi everyone,

this is my first post here, so far I have completed all the runs up to W6R2 and the first five weeks went really well. The beginning felt like a challenge, my fitness level has dropped radically since last year and long bedrest after abdominal surgery. But until this week I actually enjoyed the running and loved the feeling when each week I managed to run more and more. Even the dreaded W5R3, running for 20 minutes, didn't feel so bad, of course it was challenging but I started out slow and made it through the podcast without feeling exhausted. BUT this last week, I might have hit a plateau, or a phase where my fitness level is not enough to complete the podcasts... When I started the W6R2 it felt like my legs were made of lead, I was barely moving forward and pushed through the podcast with lots and lots of willpower as I wasn't enjoying the running anymore and felt really tired. Like my muscles are already sore when I start the warmup walk. I am dreading this week's last run, the 25 minutes. Any ideas how I can boost my energy to make this run easier? Such as what to eat before the run and when, or how to stretch before the run to make it easier on my muscles?

Just some additional info, I suffer from some stomach issues due to my illness (endometriosis) and have to be very careful with what I eat, ever since I started running I have managed to increase my calorie intake from 1200 or less to around 1400 calories a day, but is it still too little on the days I go for a run? I'm definitely not overweight (56kg/172cm) so I don't need to keep my energy intake low, it's just as much as I can manage without getting tummy trouble.

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I don't think I'm the right person to advise on calorie intake. I run early morning before breakfast (I feel sick at the best of times when I run!). I hit a major wall on week 6. I kinda thought I'd got this sussed after the famous 20 minute run but ended up repeating week 6 run 1 twice before I nailed it. I've just finished week 7 and gone through the 'wall'. I'm (almost) enjoying it now!! Believe in the programme and yourself you have got this !

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I agree with froggyrunner I too run in the morning without eating. But maybe it's just a small amount of energy you need some cyclists swear by the energy gels, which give a more or less immediate boost. You know your body and the programme is designed to permit you to make the increased time in running. Perhaps a little energy before might work. You have to trust what you know about yourself. Good luck in your next run whether you repeat or go on. You can do this.

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I would certainly not recommend energy gels if you suffer stomach issues. They are notorious for causing gastric distress even in the robustest of alimentary systems and are essentially just pure refined sugar which would, i would have thought, cause inflammation and a very bad reaction to your condition.

In terms of calories, you could probably stand to benefit from a couple of hundred more a day at your height and weight and activity level, to boost energy levels, but if the tradeoff of that is that it would cause you more discomfort then it is questionable whether it actually is benefitting you overall.

Most of the usual suggestons one would make, like protein shakes etc are probably contra indicated for your condition. I think this is really a question that needs to be addressed to a properly qualified medical practitioner rather than answered on an internet forum. Can you get your doctor to refer you to a dietician?

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Thanks for the reply, I would indeed steer clear of any supplements and processed foods as they are very likely to cause issues. I make most of my meals from scratch to know exactly what's in it, the dr has me on low FODMAP diet that is prescribed for IBS and the list of foods to avoid is very long :D

I think I'd benefit from eating more, and I've been adding calories very slowly to avoid tummy issues from suddenly increasing how much I eat or the energetic value of what I eat. It's a slow process, and I was referred by my GP to a nurse who's specialised in nutrition, unfortunately I am moving countries for a new job and won't be able to go to that appointment. Hopefully the health insurance scheme at my new workplace will allow me to work with a dietician because I could use some help. I tend to start obsessing about food and my weight and I have a history of disordered eating (which I hear is what they call mild symptoms of an eating disorder - I've never developed a serious condition). That's one of the reasons why I asked here if maybe I'm eating too little, I'm not sure if my views of how much I can eat are realistic. But the core of my problem is the endometriosis and the gastrointestinal symptoms, and my dr's recommendation to eat small portions often but also with big time gaps so I've had to use food diary to make sure I eat at least those 1400 calories.

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Wow I did it! I "ran" for 25 minutes and was even slightly faster than the elderly couple who were out nordic walking at the same forrest path :D I caught a glimpse of myself in a window of a building I was passing by and I looked kinda like I had just crapped my pants and was trying to get home as fast as possible in that situation :D But the main thing is I kept moving and didn't slow down to walking! Truth be told I'm pretty proud of myself. Especially because the first three minutes my legs were so sore and I kept thinking "I hate this, I don't want to be here, I wanna go home, why the hell did I start this" and by minute 5 I was enjoying myself and was determined to finish the podcast :) Go me!

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