In science, whenever someone has a hypothesis about something, they have to run a serious of tests based on observations and experiments in order to form a solid theory. In running, whenever I have a hypothesis about observed correlations between outside factors and my results, I test them multiple times to prove my own type of theory..for my own body. Still with me?
When it comes experimenting on humans, there isn’t much leeway. It’s unethical to a certain degree to do such a thing, but if the human being tested on is yourself I’d say you’re in the clear!
Test # 1: The Less is More Test – For this experiment I decided to take into account how my body felt after loading up on food the morning of a long run. My results were almost always the same. I felt slow, and sluggish. I then decided to put “carb-loading” to the test by eating a substantial amount of food the day before my run, and LESS food the day of my actual run. If I let science do the talking I can assume the food I consumed the previous day has been stored for readily available energy, allowing me to eat lighter before my actual run.
Results: For the last two weeks I’ve been testing this idea and it’s been proven correct for my personal running adventures. When I eat less the day of, I run lighter and don’t feel as sluggish.
Test # 2: The Coffee Test – What I’m about to say will surely shock you. I normally consume around 10-12 oz of coffee a day. That’s it. One cup, that I rarely finish all of. I know, I know…the coffee loving barista only drinks a small amount of coffee. What can I say I’m naturally energetic. Or am I? After consuming an extra cup or two of coffee before a fatigue free long run, I decided to drink an extra cup within 30 minutes of my next planned run.
Results: Every time I’ve had coffee within 30 minutes before my run I felt an elevated boost of energy. This has resulted in me ALWAYS wanting a cup before my runs, because feeling tired 2 miles into a 10 mile run is all kinds of problematic. More black crack please.
Test # 3: The “GETCHURMINDRIGHT” Test – For this experiment I decided to pump myself up by telling myself before a long run, “you GET to go run 9 miles,” instead of “you HAVE to go run 9 miles.” I did this for my last three long runs, and I also mentally prepared myself for the distance by taking it one mile at a time.
Results: Master your mind, master your life. Running (and a lot of other things in life) is mostly mental. Blocking out the negativity resulted in three extremely positive long runs. After practicing a positive mind space I noticed my runs were, dare I say COMPLETELY enjoyable. I wasn’t dying mid way to ten miles, I gracefully trotted into the final mile.
Test # 4: The Every Other Day Test – What I’m about to admit is not something I’m proud of, but it’s real life so roll with me here. This experiment was completely unplanned, and sprouted based on a semi uncontrollable situation. My training schedule had me running 4 times a week, with two cross train days, and one rest day. Up until a couple weeks ago I was running probably 5 times a week, and bouncing between two cross train days with a random rest here and there.
When I was asked to work a double shift at work a couple weeks ago, mentally I was distraught about having to skip my 5 mile run (I could have run in the dark if I wanted, but…I didn’t want to.) I am very schedule oriented and this messed with my mind. Do I know that if I skip a run I will be fine? Yes, but that doesn’t make it any easier. So I skipped my run, and guess what happened? I ran 8 miles the next day. If I’ve done my math correctly, that’s 3 more miles than planned. AND IT FELT AMAZING. So I tested the idea of running one day, and resting the next.
Results: For the last two weeks I’ve taken WAAaaAAyy more rest days than scheduled, and done a serious of run, rest, run, rest, with a few back to back runs or workouts thrown in the mix. This has resulted in AMAZING long runs with MORE energy, and a much happier mindset about accomplishing OTHER things outside of running…like eating.
Test # 5: The Slow is Pro Test – For this experiment I took it back to the basics of slower and more comfortable runs. I used to beat myself up if my run wasn’t at a certain speed, and recently the speed I felt I needed to achieve was anything under 10 minute miles. In my mind 10 minute miles were slow as molasses, and someone that’s been running for years shouldn’t be compared to a sticky sweetener. Well I say to hell with that hogwash because my slow running pace has given me some of my best overall runs…ever.
Results: When allowing my mind to go hand in hand with test number 3, I mentally accepted that my pace was going to slow down in order to allow me to continue running without wanting to stop. 8 miles at a 9:46 pace is fantastic, but so is 8 miles at a 10:00 pace. If I push I know I can obtain the quicker pace, but that usually results in me dreading my next run.
I would rather enjoy myself at a steady speed and be EXCITED to run again.
While none of these have been scientifically proven, they seem to work for me for the time being. Our bodies are constantly changing and adapting to new ways of doing things.
Other key factors include: 298325982 ounces of water the DAY BEFORE my run, similar to food. PLUS another 587583 ounces the day of. Water all day everyday. Good sleep, happy muscles, cooler weather, a good BM (truth stops for no one, see note below*) and a huge meal post run to refuel! Another benefit of not eating much before means plenty of room in my belly for AFTER.
*Runners trots – they are so real, and they hurt SO much. Let your imagination fill in the rest.
Q: Do you ever test certain factors to see how they play into your workouts?
40 thoughts on “Experimenting on Humans”
I need coffee 30-60 mins before working out too! I love it, its a habit and im ok with it. i then have another cup after the workout 🙂 and im actually currently experimenting with every other day stuff- i do 4 days a week too and i was doing tues/thurs/sat/sun… now im doing tues/weds/sat/sun… i dunno, jury is still out on that one.
Amy @ A Desert Girl
These are great! You have obviously benefited from taking a little time to analyze what works – and what doesn’t – for you, and I bet the same will apply for many others!
YES to all of these. I’ve been resting way more lately too and it seems to be working. My friend (boyfriend? that sounds weird to say so I’ll stick with friend) is big on the every other day running and he’s hella fast. And stays injury free. So I started working out less days- partially because I have less free time and partially because I am testing out that theory- and noticed I feel way better on the days I do work out.
Also, I love that “I get to run” mindset. After I’ve been running consistently for awhile I notice I get into that *have* to run mindset. Now that I’ve been out of commission for awhile, I’m back to missing running. I know when I am healthy and injury free again I’ll be in that excited mindset where running feels completely enjoyable again. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, right?
We’re just gonna call him your boyfriend. 😉 Distance ALWAYS makes my heart fonder. Man oh man!
Lauren @ ihadabiglunch
Very cool that you took the time to figure out how your body best operates before/during a run. I can’t have ANY coffee in my system if I’m going to run. Nope – none. I will get so so so sick. No bueno. Also I very rarely run two days in a row. It will backfire and I’ll get hurt, I know haha.
hehe, the writing in this post was perfect, but it mostly left me wishing i could come over and take silly photos with you. and as for your coffee helps you run theory? i agree, and i think starbucks would too– new collaboration inspired by blissful brit? i think so 🙂
What a brilliant idea.
I think enjoying your run is the most important aspect of running for sure and I’m glad you are loving it so much! I’m actually going through that same change right now where I’m slowing down my run – sometimes leaving my watch at home – and not focusing on the pace. We only get one life so we should try our best to enjoy ALL aspects of it 🙂
First of all, that first pic totally cracked me up! LOVE it! 🙂
Secondly, I’ve definitely done this! Running on an empty stomach… Running with more in my stomach. Running in the morning… Running later in the day. I do like to try different methods and such to see what leaves me feeling the healthiest, strongest, and happiest. 🙂
Being in my 3rd trimester, I honestly haven’t been exercising as much as I should. And jogging is definitely not in my near future, with the anemia taking away so much of my energy. But I try to walk a few days a week, and I’ve introduced squats again. AND I’m seriously looking forward to when I can run again, because I miss it!! 🙂
I did a similar thing but with lifting because I’m not much of a runner. If I have a good amount of protein and drink BCAAs during a workout I feel much better throughout and after than when I don’t. Running on any kind of stomach doesn’t do good things to me.
Nicole Marie Story
Girl, I LOVE this post, and I LOVE your coffee picture. So sexy! I discover my experimental groups in retrospect. For instance, I’m doing this no alcohol thing for a month, but over the last 3 weeks, I’ve developed a daily chocolate habit. Pretty pissed that I thought I was gaining weight, my aesthetician said to me the other day, “Woa! Cheekbones! I see lots of cheekbones! You’ve lost weight, girl!” … so I snapped a yoga pose picture for the blog, and what do ya know… thinner. I love everything about science, and your night before nutrition looks DIVINE as does your pre run nutrition. I have runner friends who will probably agree. Love it. Thanks for sharing. G$ says what’s up:) xo
AHH YES!! Giving up our vices can be so hard (I’m currently working on a ONCE a week treat thing and the cookies I bought today are patiently waiting to be eaten on Sunday) but SO worth it when we notice our bodies changing for the better!
Luv What You Do
I definitely test clothing, food, and equipment in regards to my workouts. I’ve totally changed what I eat and drink when I run long distances compared with a few years ago and it’s made a huge difference!
Okay girl, I’m REALLY recommending that you check out the book “Run Less, Run Faster.” If you were my neighbor, I’d lend you my copy this very second. (Or, umm, as soon as I fished it out of one of the 147 boxes in our storage locker because we still haven’t moved into a new apartment yet.) After reading that, I went from running 6-7 days a week (CRAZY!) to just 3. And I was so, so, SO happy. Every run felt great; I could go as long as I wanted without tiring. I kind of skipped the 3 different types of runs and just ran to run, but that’ll also help you a little with your speed if you want. But seriously… Check it out. 🙂
P.S. You know how much I love science!! Best post ever.
This book sounds great, thank you for the recommendation!!
You’re welcome! Hope you can find it!
Choc Chip Uru
Wow you are definitely determined! I never take test runs or try out different outfits – I grab whatever I have and make it super smelly before throwing it in the wash 😛
Keep taking those rest days they are the best right? 🙂
Choc Chip Uru
I love your positive mantra of “I get to run 9 miles!” Positive thinking is so important in finishing a run, a project or doing something that can be hard or challenging. That’s awesome!
Love this post, and glad you found things that work for you!
the vegan 8
Wow, you are the magic tester huh! I’m amazed at all you did to test what would best help your runs and your mental state. Super cool. I definitely can remember how eating too much before a run would seriously screw me up, but I’m such a pig, it never would stop me from doing it, haha!
kathy @ vodka and soda
coffee makes me poop so no coffee for me before any workout! but i do believe in the fact that it’s always mind over matter..your body can do anything; you just have to convince your brain!!
Heather @ HeatherRunsFast.com
Great experiment! That’s the best way to know what works for you… just try it out! I’m like you, I am very schedule oriented (thank you Type A personality) and a last minute change can really throw me off. Glad it all worked out and now you have an even better plan! And happy to hear your thoroughly enjoying running again 🙂
Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy
I’m going to have to try drinking coffee before my runs!
I like the experiment with things like this as although there is lots of advice out there, everyone is different and reacts differently.
Exactly, that’s the key note: every BODY is different.
di @ life of di.
I’m about to head to the gym and plan to stop and grab a small coffee on my way. It really does help to boost my energy 🙂 Also, I plan on ‘experimenting’ with myself a bit more after the baby comes and I’m given approval to workout again. I want to find the best ways to nourish myself for workouts – no more under-eating or running on negative calories. I certainly lost weight when I was living with that mentality; however, it wasn’t healthy and I ended up plateauing anyway.
Love this post! You are hilarious 🙂
It does shock me that you don’t drink that much coffee, but I guess if you drink it for the caffeine that would make sense. Coffee has zero effect on me in terms of alertness [though drinking it does sooth my soul] and I drink it because I crave the comfort and flavor :)BUT if I drink it before a workout I’ll have to pee!
Oh yes, I actually only started drinking it for the boost of energy a couple weeks ago. Usually it’s just for comfort and makes me happy! Plus I think it tastes amazing, so that helps.
Arman @ thebigmansworld
You asked (for black crack. I’m here).
I reckon self experimentation is the best means of testing well…anything. I’m currently testing out a diet style at the moment (nothing mainstream in the slightest) and it constantly needs tweaking. As for working out….hm. I’ll get back to you.
I actually think a bit of a caffeine boost right before a workout has been scientifically proven to help. I’m pretty sure I listened to a Jillian Michael’s podcast on it. Drink up baby.
I’m glad you’re making changes which are making you love running more. That’s really awesome and the every other rest day doesn’t surprise me one bit. When we give our bodies a break, they tend to love us extra hard in return.
I don’t know what these trots are and I only hope they really don’t hurt.
Coffee before a workout? Now there’s a great idea! I love the idea of using yourself as a guinea pig, how else are you supposed to figure out what really works?
Matt @ Runner Savvy
Coffee before running, always!
Davida @The Healthy Maven
Having spent too many years of my life working in psych labs, I am definitely not one to do tests on my own life! But I am fascinated reading about yours. The more rest days that you think deal totally works for me. Less is moooooore baby.
I can agree with pretty much all of these! And p.s. I take immodium on any run over 10 miles. 😉 My stomach doesn’t appreciate it the next 1-2 days after that, but it REALLY helps during the run.
I’m not sure why your still working at Starbucks, and not becoming a Dr. with all these tests you’ve done 🙂 Haha! In all seriousness though, very cool post. I am quite surprised you only consume one cup of coffee a day… if that. I thought for sure it was at least two.
Khushboo Thadani (@KhushbooThadani)
This is such an awesome post, Britt..and I’m glad you’ve found a routine that is clearly making you run like a pro :)! I find that a 4-5 day workout schedule works best for me…anything more tends to affect the overall quality of my workouts. I am also with you about changing my mindset towards workouts- as soon as I get rid of the “I have to work out” mentality, my workout groove naturally kicks in and I am actually excited to exercise!
The Zen Kat
I like this post. I’m always a fan of testing things out, especially with food and fitness. I still haven’t figured out when the best time to eat and not eat is for a run, but relying on science sounds like a winner.
Also I love this- “Master your mind, master your life.” All that silly uplifting stuff really works, right? 🙂
I don’t know why I keep giggling at “black crack”
oh, wait. Yes I do.
I have such a weird mind. Let’s just say… coffee is not what comes to mind.
Rach @ This Italian Family
You put so much thought and analysis into this! I should pay more attention to things like this. What keeps me feeling best and with the highest energy? Good things to consider! Also, I was really surprised to hear how little coffee you drink every day considering that you are so surrounded by it. But that’s good! Moderation is best! 🙂
This was so cool to read! I like your experiment with more rest days. I know exactly what you mean!
Also, I love your reference to coffee as black crack 🙂
I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award! Check out http://www.freshbyfriska.com/liebster-award-nomination/ for details and questions! Spreading the #vegan #love
– from another fellow black crack addict