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what's happened to my performance? Mile time down from 7:17 to over 10:00...


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I started going Paleo in April. May was the month of whole30 prep with only some natural sugars and dairy left. June has been the month of Whole 30.

In March my mile time was 7:17. Now I can hardly do a mile in 10 minutes. My long slow distance has suffered by about a 2 minute addition per mile. My old sweet spot pace is about 1:30 slower.

I'm eating sweet potatoes, doing food before/after. I'm eating lots of fat. Recovery? Not that much different, maybe a little slower because I'm fatigued during the activity?

I have no idea what's happening. I like eating this way, but I'm ready to add in some rice or quinoa. I was hoping to compete this summer, but my times will be ridiculously above my last races.

I know this life feeding strategy works for some, but it has to be tweaked for the individual. Anyone else had this happen? How to fix??


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Were you still running in April and May? Did your times gradually increase? How far are you running?

You may need to play with the idea of fueling during your run, depending on how long they are. Are you eating enough fat? Without the dairy and sugar, you lost a significant amount of calories, which means you should be eating more of W30 approved foods now than you were in April to make up for the calorie deficit.

Full on Whole30, although similar to paleo, is a whole other beast...it will still take your body time to adjust.

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I was running in April and May, yep, though in May I cut down and tried to add cross fit. That didn't go so well and overtaxed me, so I stopped cross fit in june. I consistently run at least twice a week, sometimes four times. I bike 1-3 times a week as well.

My run distances in March were much longer - I was at 16 miles for my long run... in April and May I cut down to a winter style of training - with long runs being 6-8 and short runs from 2-5. I've just gradually been finding it much harder to finish, and yes, just feeling sluggish and slow as time has gone on.

As for fuel, I've never had to fuel during a run as far as 10 miles. 10-12 and up and I used to bring perpetuum, a hammer nutrition product that I'd make into a pancake like batter and take from a gu bottle. It's a mix of protein and carbs, with a bit of caffeine.

But since I haven't been running anywhere near that distance, I haven't been taking fuel, and if I did, that's certainly not Whole30 approved.

I should be able to do a measly 6 mile run without bonking, but this past sunday was one of the hardest runs I've encountered.

I'm eating lots of fat - avocados, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, coconut itself, full fat meats... I'm not skipping on that. I'm also eating lots of veggies and protein. My food log is on here, everything I've been eating since june 1.

I'm just concerned because race season is upon us and I'd planned on doing a couple of events in July, one in late August, and one in September. At this rate, I'll be lucky to even get to the level of training needed for me to do any of them.

Eating Paleo, or even whole 30, if I'm getting enough of everything, should not change my endurance, but it is. My body is really struggling to get through what used to be pretty standard stuff for me. It's not just my running, either. My biking has suffered too. I can't grind up the hills like I used to - it's always been hard for me, but most of the time now Im not even sure if I'm gonna make it. I do, but it's just sheer mental power that's getting me to the top. And I live on top of an 800 foot climb, so I have no choice but to climb to get home. :)

I really am curious if perhaps this isn't for me. Gluten free, yeah, but do some people need to carb fuel from other grains?

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I remember your previous post about fatigue issues, your first month of CrossFit, working in your garden, etc. I think that was in late May before you officially started your Whole30? You mentioned near the end of that thread that you were feeling better, like it was possibly some sort of bug you were getting over. I assume the current problems are a continuation of those same symptoms you mentioned before?

If you look back on your activity, performance, recovery, sleep, general energy levels over the past several months, do you see a gradual but consistent drop off from your expectations? If so, do these changes occur around the time you started eating a paleo/primal diet? We're all an n=1 experiment, so there's no harm in reintroducing foods that you feel might be helpful. But, you might also consider seeing a doctor and getting some tests done if your performance changes don't coincide with dietary changes, or if they don't improve with further nutrition tweaks.

I hope you can figure out what's going on soon... it's no fun performing below expectations.

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Hey bodygeek,

This is only my third day in the program, but I'm an ultrarunner, so your post intrigued me. Other than the food, a few things come to mind (forgive me, I'm sure you already considered this).

1. You said you dialed your mileage back from 16 mile long runs to 6-8 miles in April and May. How long have you taken to try to build back up? How long is your long run now? You may just need more time to build back.

2. Is it possible you're overtrained? I flirt with this more than I would like to. And sometimes it seems like something is just off, but really I need to take few days off and totally soak up the training volume. BTW - You can take up to 6 days completely off (on the couch) without it effecting your VO2 max in any appreciable way. So don't be afriad to do that.

Also, I completely second Jim's comments. No harm in modifying things if there is not another explanation. We are all an experiment of one.

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This sounds like way too much work, not nearly enough fuel or recovery.

I took a peek at your food log and it's screaming of under-nutrition to me. Your food log would be barely adequate for a petite, inactive female. You are the complete opposite of inactive (that's a compliment :) ), and you need MORE FOOD.

I'm not going to throw out a calorie number here, but you really need to get either a lot more carbohydrates, or really just more calories (i'd like it to be protein, but i know you're a recovering veggie) into your body.

Rice is a VERY dense carb source. When you ditch that stuff during a W30, you need to be careful that you're replacing those calories, especially for how active you are. 1 cup of cooked white rice is 45 grams of carbs. 1 large sweet potato is only 25. Eat more!

Take a couple of days completely OFF, get good sleep, eat more food, then see how you feel?

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eat more?? I feel like I'm eating too much as it is... My meals make me full midway through... maybe I need to eat smaller more frequently, but I'm not hungry....

half the time I eat out of habit - which is part of what I was trying to change with this... and the bingey evening eating hasn't really stopped, but I eat healthy foods...

I just don't know... what I'm eating isn't hard, but how I'm eating is the big shift, I guess?

I do probably need more carbs, I just don't know how to get any more into my body. (BEER! :)) I will have to start drinking carbs if that's gonna happen, maybe?

I can also eat more protein, but I don't know what... I now eat meat at every meal, and to eat more... how do you "snack" on meat? :)

Thanks all for your help and ideas. I'll keep these things in mind and figure something out.

I was hoping to get to race weight using this Whole30 (about 133 for me - at the low end for 5'9, but I lean out a lot when racing). I started somewhere around 144? I haven't weighed or measured, but I know I've lost something - be it size or weight... usually when that happens I get faster in my bike and my run (can you tell swimming is my least favorite?)...

Okay. more fuel. More protein, more carb? My sweet potatoes have been relatively small, too, so maybe doubling up on those...

This is all just figuring it out, isn't it? It was seeming so easy to have this sort of structure to my eating (with raw cream in my coffee as my caveat - but having grown up on a dairy farm and having been fed raw milk from a bottle when I couldn't tolerate any other food source other as an infant, I digest milk well), but it's a big transition (no pun intended) for an endurance person to try this...

Mike, my long runs right now, I can't even get up to 8. Just too. fatigued.

Renee, I'm sleeping, I'm taking days off at least twice a week, because even a 20 mile ride or a 6 mile run just wipe me out. As for COMPLETELY off... I can't sit still, so... I've maybe sat in one spot and read a book for a day once in the past two weeks. Maybe I'll try that again this week...

Thanks again, all.

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Another idea is to go back to your previous diet and see if your performance results return. I know that that's not promoting Whole9/30, but its a very normal troubleshooting step for any system. Establishing the cause-effect relationship will help you understand how your body works.

This can be difficult with human performance (however you choose to define that) because many things can be changing all at once: food, sleep, stress, relationships, job, weather, injuries, health, on and on and on. Many people change a bunch of things all at once and then point toward one element and say something like, "I can't lift 2 pounds if I don't get at least 10 hours of sleep" (dramatic example).


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Don't be afraid of fruit...I like to add applesauce and bananas to post workout sweet potatoes to help ramp up the carbs.

My husband is someone how runs better on higher carbs, whereas I'm on the lower end. So we have some experience in tinkering with this. He would complain about not having the extra "umph" in his workouts. More protein and fat was not feasible. He was already eating more that enough at each meal. So we started beefing up his post workout carbs.... coconut water, bananas, apple sauce. and even a little honey really helped him.

He is leaner and stronger than he has ever been eating this way.

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I've also been having a struggle with serious orthostatic hypotension in the past two weeks. I've always had low blood pressure, tend to be about 110/60, and the postural hypotension to go with it. But lately almost any large postural shift almost lays me out. I get spots in my vision, and usually nausea and tingling in the neck/shoulders. It's only worrisome because it's markedly more severe from my old episodes of postural hypotension.

After a bit of exploring, it seems this could also be related to the dietary shifts... I think I'm going to add in some quinoa and see what happens. I can't seem to get enough carbs otherwise.

I already eat bananas, applesauce, coconut water, and added some maple syrup about a week ago... but with the reduction in my endurance levels and this near fainting, I'm putting it together that I need something a little different. So that's where I'm going.

Thanks, all, for support.

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My dear, I just buzzed through your food log. You are not eating enough to support a sedentary lifestyle, never mind longer runs. Some days you don't eat lunch, other days your dinner is a Larabar and a strawberry, and your carbohydrate intake appears to be non-existent, save for some post-run carbs.

Four strawberries do not count as carbohydrates.

If you want to exercise, you have to eat. More of everything, particularly carbohydrate. Period. Your current diet is not going to cut it - no wonder you're exhausted. You don't need to resort to adding grains back to your diet for carbs - you just need to eat some. Sweet potato - one per day. Fruit - a cup or two of berrries, a large banana, or a large apple at a time, 2-3 times a day. Every day. Pumpkin, butternut or acorn squash, beets, parsnips... more carbs. Lots. Or you don't get to run, because your body will make sure of it. You could also stand to eat more protein and fat, but those aren't as desperately in need as carbohydrate.

The good news is that you can start feeing better IMMEDIATELY if you start eating more now. Three meals a day, minimum. No more skipping meals or eating a Larabar. Pre-workout snack, post-workout meal for all your hard runs longer than 20 minutes. The diligence you must apply to ensure you are eating enough is the price you pay for wanting to exercise the way you do.

I'm being direct with you for a reason - you really need to get this in check, or you'll end up doing some long-term damage, metabolically. Demaning glucose on a daily basis without supplying anywhere near enough in your diet is a recipe for disaster. Yes?



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Melissa, I'm glad I came to check in to this forum.

My coach wants me to add back some grains like quinoa and rice, and start taking them out gradually to see what happens, but I think I might try your approach. I have no idea how to eat that much. I will have to eat constantly.

I do know it's carbs that are missing, as I had a 1/2 bagel before my run this morning (like I always did before) and I was able to hang with the fast pack for a full 7 miles.

I wish I had more effect from eating grains/gluten, so as to have a solid reaction to know that they shouldn't be in my diet... but I don't. My body tolerates pretty much anything at any time. But I'm going to see what I can do keeping paleo...

Thanks. I've emailed your above missive to myself to remind me. :)

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