Cramming 101: Endurance Training and Recovery

Endurance isn’t for the weak.


It also probably should not be prepared for in a cram session.

This Saturday I’m doing an adventure/orienteering race that my cousin talked me in to.  8 hours in the woods with a GPS.  They give you the start, the finish, and a couple of mandatory check points along the way.  It will be running, hiking, mountain biking, and canoeing.  I hope I live.


Keep going


Some of you may not know it, but before I got into lifting seriously, I was a runner.  I was a decently fast 5K’er, loved adventure races (hellllloooo Tough Mudder) and ran a few Halfs.  I wanted to run a full but one day my knee said no.  If I ever want to run distances again I need to have surgery.  That won’t be happening.


All of this to say, I haven’t been running in 8 months!  Saturday that changed.  My cousin recommended I get 6 hours of continuous exercise/training in before the race.  Cramming.

Kat agreed to keep me company for half of that by taking me on one of her trail run/hikes.

Kat and Me


13 STEEP miles in 3 hours.  We hiked up steep incline filled with wet leaves, leapt over creeks, and ran power lines.  It was the perfect day for it – record high 75 degree temps and partly cloudy.

I was sore half way through.  


Nutrition is something I struggle with.  I have a hard time eating or drinking during a run – it makes me slosh and cramp.  In our 3 hour run, I just ate a mini über Lara Bar (the one with the nuts) and sipped some water.  Will have to be sure to take in more fuel while biking and canoeing this weekend.

We finished (thank you, Kat, for being patient with me) and did a little yoga to loosen up.  I chugged water.

Post-Run Yoga #FitFluential


Kat dropped me at my place where I ran up to pee, change shoes, and eat.  In that order.

I broke out an old favorite for fuel:

Sweet Potato “Cereal”

  • 1/2 sweet potato, bakes and cubed
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Unsweetened almond milk


Place sweet potato in a cereal bowl.  Mix together remaining ingredients in a separate bowl, adding milk until the mixture thins to a milk consistency.

Pour protein milk over the ‘taters and inhale.


Then I grabbed my bike, water bottle, and a GU and took off.  (Note: Espresso GU is tasty!)

Gingerly set out may be a better way to describe it.  I was tired.  What I considered to be “flat” ground before seems quite hilly.  I rode about 15 miles (had to stop for air in my tires and forgot to re-start my RunKeeper app).  After I loosened up a bit, it turned into a fun ride.  I followed Atlanta’s new Beltline Path and got to see the city in a whole new way.  I even took a tour to ride the Krog Street Tunnel (infamous for its graffiti):

Krog Street Tunnel

Krog Street Tunnel


I decided to get back on the path and head back when I rode past a woman on her porch yelling at her neighbor, “Don’t mess with me or I will HURT your dog!”  Scary lady.

Honestly, after I got back within a mile of my place I’d convinced myself to call it quits at 5 hours.  I was tired, sore, bored, and hungry.  Then I ran into Carol and her sweet puppy Bailey!  She was walking home from an afternoon at the dog park, so I joined her to catch up.  30 mins walking there, then another 30 back to my house = 6 hours DONE.


When I got home I was famished.  I would have eaten my right hand (I’m left-handed).  Instead, I stood in the door of my fridge and ate half a rotisserie chicken with my bare hands.  After washing my hands, of course.

Then I cleaned my sticky self:


And finally it was dinner time.  Burger topped with avocado, black bean dip, jalapeno, and pico de gallo, with a side of house-made crinkly-crispy sweet potato fries dipped in sriracha and mustard.  Then… there may have been an (unpictured) apple pie milkshake.  I’ve been boycotting the burger trend (I HATE Yeah! Burger), but Grindhouse Killer Burgers changed my mind.

Grindhouse Killer Burgers - Gringo


Yes, it’s Junk-Free January.  I needed calories… and it was junk-free-ish.  The meat for the burger is freshly ground by a small North Carolina producer and delivered every day, and the bun is a soft potato roll made by a Pennsylvania Dutch bakery.  The sauces are homemade.  The shakes are homemade.  I have no regrets.

Then I crashed.  And got hungry again.  Banana.  Cottage Cheese.  Protein powder.  Cinnamon.  Face plant in bed.

Then, in the wee hours of Monday morning, I got the stomach flu.  I think I would have gotten sick despite the cram session… but it probably didn’t help.  In the future, I’ll plan better.  Thank you all SO much for the well-wishes!

2 days ’til race day!!! I’m eating my carbs and doing to light workouts to prepare.


I was nominated for something I’m really excited about: Top Health and Fitness Blog of 2013.  I’d be honored to have your vote!  It’s really easy – no registration required.  Click here to Vote.

Leap Fitness Top 100


How do you fuel before/during/after races?

What is the toughest race/physical activity you’ve ever done?



  1. says

    Oh gosh what a day you had! And I am sorry to read you are not feeling well… lots of rest and good food should get you back on your feet again… if they aren’t too sore!

    I did an orienteering event years ago but we had to use a compass… it was just running and hiking and not nearly the even yours is gonna be. I can’t wait to read about it. Love canoeing.

    That Sweet Potato cereal looks great. I think about the only thing I am missing on this Whole30 Paleo thing is protein powder.

  2. says

    Ahhh I admire how much determination you have to workout. I’ve been trying since the New Year and I’ve hit a brick wall!! :( Lol

    On a different note, that sweet potato cereal looks interesting, but I love how different it is! I am, after all, a root vege nut. 😉

    • Laura says

      It’s more about habit than anything, I think. It has become like brushing my teeth (I know… i even hat to smack me when I say that). But I don’t feel right without it!

  3. says

    That sounds like hell!!! Haha I can’t believe I regularly used to exercise that much when I was a dancer/runner. An average day for me was 3-4 hours. If I had a show, it would be more like 8-10 hours! My oh my, things have changed 😉

  4. says

    That race looks like fun!!

    There’s a nasty new stomach virus going around. Wash your hands regularly and don’t touch your face. I heard even hand sanitizers won’t kill off the virus. :S

  5. says

    Wow, your day sounds amazing from all the awesome working out to that amazing food…apple pie milkshake? good god! That burger looked awesome too! Sounds like you are going to have a blast. I love that famished/starving feeling after a hard workout. Also, LOVE espresso Gu (like more than should be normal, ha ha). I did my first Tough Mudder last year and LOVED it…but still think marathons when my body isn’t feeling that great are the hardest thing I’ve ever done!

  6. says

    I need to try your sweet potato cereal. Looks great! I’m so impressed that you just picked up and ran 13 miles. So impressive. I would’ve stopped on about mile 4 I think!

  7. says

    Congrats on being nominated lovie!!!! How amazing!

    Also, loved hearing your story about your adventure!!!!! I was following along on IG all day and I was so curious!

    Love you xo

  8. says

    I was hoping you were going to recap your Saturday adventures! 6 hours is a LONG time. So funny that we were both craving burgers after the endurance events this weekend. Looks like you will be just fine for next Saturday! As for fuel, in the marathon I used Honey Stinger Chews, but they aren’t as dense as gu (you’d need a whole pack for one gu) – I just don’t do well with gu and gels. But if they worked for you, I’d definitely use those! Portable, quick, and good source of fast energy.

  9. says

    I am completely in awe of two things here – one that you exercised for 6 hours straight and two that you don’t like Yeah Burger.

  10. says

    I’m bad about fueling during a race. I can do it just fine on a training run, but mid-race my focus is on running and breathing. I’m pretty good about before and after. Took some practice of course. That sweet potato concoction looks yummy. And congrats on the nomination too!

  11. says

    That is so Bad Ass! I remember hiking 18k and being tired after that :S Well I was ok after I rested on the ride back and I was so famished just after that!

    I hope to do one of these amazing races one day… Just need to build up my endurance first ^^

  12. says

    Woah awesome!!!

    I haven’t ran since my half…that would be errrr…4 months. I’ll get back to it soon enough :)

    I didn’t fuel during my half (I had a good breakfast). My body wasn’t asking for anything so I listened.

    Hardest run…Spartan BEAST! I fuelled twice with GU. I cried at the end. Toughest thing I’ve ever done!

  13. says

    Wow, 6 hours of constant activity would wear anyone’s body down! The stomach flu is no fun at all (had it a few years ago) so I hope you get better soon! Before I run I always have a lot of protein but try and keep it light, I’ve never run a marathon or half so I’ve never carb-loaded, and after I run I refuel with more protein, haha. The most challenging physical activity I’ve ever done is CrossFit. I started in September and go 3-4 times a week. It is a lot of fun but definitely hard and pushes me to my limits. Just voted for you on the top health blogs- good luck!

  14. says

    I seriously need to check out Atlanta’s new Beltline! I haven’t heard of it before, but sounds like a lot of fun. Maybe I’ll go with some friends just in case I run into that scary dog threatening lady.

  15. says

    Good luck! That sounds like a really, really fun time. Also, I love your hair that color. It makes me want to dye mine back to that color … it’s been my winter color the last 3 years.

  16. says

    I love that you ate rotisserie chicken with your bare, but clean, hands directly from the fridge. While I’m very exciting for your crazy endurance challenge in the woods, I’m also wondering where you would find a bathroom. Maybe you should bring TP.
    Congratulations on the Leap Fitness nomination. That is fantastic news, and I’ll definitely throw some votes your way. You earned it (I remember those days where you only ate asparagus and lots of it) and deserve it.

    • Laura says

      I felt very primal. Hee hee. Also, you may have just saved my life. Just packed a mini packet of tissues. Thank you!!!

  17. amanda j says

    hey laura! just a shout out to let you know that i’m new(ish) to reading (er, um stalking?) your blog and totally love your daily posts. hope you’re on the mend, and good luck with your (insane!!!!) endurance race this weekend! i look forward to the recap :)

  18. bethp262 says

    Good luck at your race this weekend! I usually eat Hammer gel while running (there are no simple sugars in it so it tends to sit better in my stomach). I have a tough time eating right after exercise, so I usually have something liquid. Lately it’s been a smoothie made of spinach, a scoop of protein powder, a banana and coconut water.

  19. says

    Oh my gosh your bruise got so much worse!!! I’m still in shock you were able to do an entire 6hour day!! I’m so glad we got to meet up and chat at the end of it though! Bails loved seeing you! :] A thousand congratulations on your nomination- you certainly deserve it!!! So proud of you!! <3

  20. says

    Woooo lady, you are TOUGH! I ran 3 miles when we got that crazy gorgeous 70+ weather too, and that knocked me out for the rest of the day! But then again, I’ve always been awful at endurance, so it wasn’t really a surprise. Mmm, a new burger place opened up near me, with all sorts of real bread and good bean/meat burger options, I already really wanted to go. Now I want to go even more!

  21. says

    First off – are you feeling well enough??? Holy crap – better you than me! :) I ran when I was younger too & my knees started to bother me too. I was never super great but I did place in a couple local races. I decided long term health was more important than winning races. :) Never got to surgery part but I was feeling it & was not going to go there…

    OUCH on the war wounds – again, better you than me! 😉

    OK – the eats sound amazing!!!!!!!!

    I was nominated for that too & totally forgot – holy cow I am old! 😉 I voted for you anyway!

    • Laura says

      I think so… I did my Plyo yesterday and felt fine. Focusing on getting some good fuel in.

      Thank you!!! I voted for you too. :)

  22. says

    Let me tell you, it was a hard slog walking to the kitchen for my coconut milk ice cream and vitatop tonight. 😉

    Glad you’re feeling a bit better!

  23. says

    Oh I am training for a full in January and I am having such I tough time with fuel. Everything makes me cramp I feel like. So frustrated right now with that.

    I go through Krog tunnel at least twice a day driving and running. It is amazing to me how often the “art” changes.

    I don’t like Yeah Burger at all but maybe I should give grindhouse a try.

    • Laura says

      It’s this month?! Good luck!!! I have cramping trouble too… I’m hoping just steady, small tastes will help.

      Defintely try Grindhouse!!! Best burger in town is still Bocado, but its good in a hurry.

  24. says

    Wow…just WOW! I seriously would have died…well, I mean IF I could actually walk to the bathroom without limping right now (stupid knee!)…but I am impressed! Good for you for pressing on and not giving up at the 5 hour mark! You TOTALLY deserved that shake and burger (that looks so good, I want to lick my computer screen!).

    Oh and not that I really NEED to tell you…it should seriously be a given…but I voted for ya! *Fingers crossed* When will the winner be announced?

    I’ve never competed in any races, competitions, or events, but I have to say the toughest activity I’ve ever done was when I did Crossfit! Nothing like an hour of flipping tires, running with a harness strapped to your waist, kettlebell swings, AND box jumps all in one workout…so many times I wanted to puke! But I loved it! …masochistic much? 😉

    • Laura says

      I’m not sure… I’m also not sure what you win…. but who doesn’t love a contest? :)

      Tire flipping = no bueno. That shizz is HARD!

  25. Kat says

    and how did I miss this amazing post!? Love it!! You rocked that race, already. My mini cooper looks great behind your yoga pose. 😉

    omg. with jokes like that i know its bed time!


  1. […] I grinned.  This girl rocks my weird world.  You know it’s a sign of a good friend with a 3 hour trail run/hike flies […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge