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Posts Tagged ‘fuel’

Recalibrate

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

This morning I was in a different mindset as I got ready for our group run at the Celery Fields.  Both of my Achilles tendons have been extremely sore for the past couple of weeks so I decided that I would either not run at all and just oversee the run or maybe walk/jog a little while everyone else did the workout.  It’s difficult for me to go to one of my favorite training spots and not run!

                          

Instead of my usual pre-run breakfast of PowerBar Energy Bites, a little caffeine, and 8-12 ounces of water, I decided to eat a “regular” breakfast which included taking all of my vitamins plus a bowl of organic granola with almond milk.

So the pressure is off.  No hard running today.  No running at all since I had my regular breakfast.  We meet at the school, carpool to the Celery Fields, and a few others meet us there.  We start the dynamic warm up and my Achilles tendons hurt.  We finish that and I explain the fun hill workout they are about to tackle.  I decide to go with them on the easy mile warm up loop just to make sure everyone knows the route.  We had a few new people out today; which is always cool.

Warm up mile loop is done and the group splits up into several smaller groups as everyone begins the actual workout of 2-3 x mile loops working hard on the up hills and coasting the down hills.  I took it easy on the first loop and did not run hard on the up hills.  When I finished that my Achilles tendons actually felt a little better.  I really wasn’t feeling them at all, which was a nice change!  So my warm up loop and the first of the workout loops were both somewhere around 10:00-11:00 mile pace.  Considering the loose rock trails and hilly terrain, not bad.

Remember, I ate my regular breakfast, not a pre-run breakfast so I wasn’t supposed to be running and certainly not running a hard workout.

I just finished two miles on the hilly loop and I was not feeling my breakfast at all plus my Achilles tendons felt pretty good.  I decided to run the second of the workout loops harder and dropped to about 8:46 mile pace running hard on the up hills and coasting somewhat on the down hills.  That felt great!!!  Maybe I just needed a longer warm up – definitely a trend with me lately.  Sometimes I need a 2-3 mile warm up before a workout or race.

I then started my third of the workout loops really pushing the pace on the up hills AND the down hills and finished around 8:18 mile pace.  I could not believe how good I felt.  I then joined the group for the 4 x short sprints up the steep grass hill.  Those things make you feel alive!  Somehow I swear my legs muscles morphed into a Jell-O like substance while my lungs were burning and I became a little light headed.  I had trouble keeping track of how many I had actually run.  Who knew counting to four could be such a challenge.  Okay, a slight exaggeration here, but these are intense!

 

After the fourth short, steep hill sprint we did one more mile on the hilly loop to cool down then a quick stretch after some shin strengtheners.  A total of 5.5 miles for the day.  I am still struggling to adjust my way of thinking about mileage in workouts and total weekly mileage.  Training for that 57 miler has really skewed things for me.  I am keeping much more detailed notes in my training log now so I can see the intensity and types of workouts and not worry so much about my lower weekly mileage totals.

The big mistake I made after the 57 miler was jumping back into 50+ mile weeks with only one week of rest right after the race.  When my Achilles tendon pain started I looked at my training log and I could see it right there plain as day the reason why.  Last week I backed off to about 33 miles and this week will be even lower.  I decided to do shorter runs, increase the intensity of just a couple of them, and also take more rest days to heal up.  I definitely needed to recalibrate my way of thinking about my training.  Yes I am going to be running a 50K in just a few months and yes I am going to run another marathon when I run Goofy at Disney Marathon weekend, but that does not mean that I need to be training the way I was just a couple of months ago.  I don’t always have to run high mileage just because that worked well for me this spring when I was preparing for a 57 mile race in June.

I don’t know if other running coaches have similar issues, but I find that I am often my own toughest athlete to coach.  I always feel like the regular rules of training do not apply to me.  Sadly I am not invincible.  But luckily I do learn from my mistakes and that helps me to be a better coach to others.

Back to breakfast…

I have never been able to run well or run hard after eating cereal with milk or just drinking milk.  As I said this morning was organic granola with dark chocolate bits and almond milk.  I decided to switch to almond milk for my cereal because it is higher in calcium and has fewer calories than regular milk.  I am still amazed at how hard I was able to run after eating all that.  I felt great on the run.  The granola is pretty dense and kept me fueled.  I did not get my extreme post run hunger for quite a while after the run too.  Perhaps a new pre-run meal in the arsenal!

I will definitely keep trying new things to see what works.

Uncharted

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Back in March The Tornado Alley 50 Miler race director emailed me back to let me know that I could run the entire distance myself and that I did not need a relay team but I would need to provide my own crew and fuel.  Okay, now how do I train for this thing?!?

Talk about uncharted territory!  26.2 miles is the longest I have ever run in a race or a training run.  So I did some research on how to train for ultras.  I took some of the ideas I found along with what I have learned over the years and created a training plan that looked great on paper.  I kept the 3 month training schedule right next to my desk so I would see it daily and stick to it.

Consistency is key.  That’s probably the most important tip I can offer.  And that does not mean the schedule is set in stone.  Definitely listen to your body, take rest days as needed, and revise the schedule to fit your life.  But be consistent.

In March and April I had quite a few races on my calendar so I used those in place of some of the tempo and speed workouts.  I started doing back to back long runs in order to teach my body to run on tired legs.  This worked great for many weeks in this pattern – rest day, long run, long run, rest day and then the remainder of the week filled in with some easy runs, tempo or speed, and maybe a race.  But as the long runs got longer and longer I found that I sometimes I needed two rest days in a row before or after my longer efforts.  Some weeks when I was putting in 4-5 hour training runs (25-31 miles) I could not handle them back to back.  So I made the schedule fit what my body could handle.  I was training in Florida which featured many hot, sunny, and humid training days.

I trained at various times of day so my body could adapt to running at the different times.  I was ready for any sun, heat, or humidity that race day might bring.  I trained using all of my drinks and fuel options so I would know how my body would react to them all.

Once I reached the start of the taper, about three weeks out from race day, I was a little concerned that my longer runs were single day runs with two rest days around them and I was not able to do as many back to back long runs as I had originally planned.  But I have found that over thinking things is pretty typical for taper weeks – too much time on my hands so I start to question everything.

But I headed into race week healthy, well trained, and rested.  I had some of my best sleep the week before the race.  I have never felt so well prepared before.

Gu rediscovered

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a big fuel problem at the Space Coast Marathon.  During the two weeks after the marathon I was a bit bummed and did not care to talk about it much.  When people saw me around town at cross country meets, group runs, and at the running store I cringed when they looked so excited and asked how it went.  I think they were excited because they also knew how well prepared I was.

But I gave my standard short version recap of how it was pretty good through 20 miles then I just fell apart and struggled to finish.  It almost felt like a script after explaining it to so many people.  After Phil and I finished timing and scoring the county championship middle school cross country meet on December 10, we were headed out the gate to the parking lot and got stopped by a good friend who has completed many marathons, half marathons, and has done even more crazy stuff like Ironman and several half Ironman races.

Anyway, when I gave her the scripted recap of the race she then asked, (paraphrasing here) “you didn’t take any Gu?”  When I answered “no” and continued to explain my intake of water and Gatorade, her jaw dropped and she looked shocked and amazed.  I so wish I had a photo of her face at that moment!  We laughed so hard at her reaction.  It was the perfect mix of surprise and disbelief.  As funny as that moment was, it really stuck with me and got me thinking…

I tried Gu way back in the mid to late 1990s when I was running lots of marathons and I thought it was so disgusting.  The consistency was gross and the flavor about made me gag.  But as with so many things…they can and do improve over time.  I asked around about the flavors that my fellow endurance athlete friends preferred.  I even tried eating Sharkies during a long run before I gave in to try Gu again.  Although I love Sharkies – taste, consistency, healthy – everything about them!  It was too much for my stomach to deal with during a run.  I know people who can eat bananas and Clif Bars during training runs and long races; I am just not blessed with that type of iron stomach.  ;)

So, here we are on Sunday, December 18 at our group long run.  I ran a 10K (about 8 miles total with warm up and cool down) the day before so I only planned to run 12 miles.  I took half a packet of Gu with water at six miles.  The run was supposed to be easy and I averaged 9:23 for the 12 miles but my last three miles were 8:47, 8:43, 8:24 and I felt pretty good.  No stomach issues from the Gu and the Vanilla Bean flavor was not bad.  Still not crazy about the consistency but there’s the incentive to get it down quickly!  Tuesday and Thursday that week were pretty hard runs followed by acupuncture and massage for my knee and Achilles on Friday in preparation for Saturday’s 20 miler.

The Christmas Eve 20 miler ended up being an awesome group run at the preserve.  I think we had over 20 people join in.  The 20 miles took 2:54 for an average pace of about 8:44.  I took a full Gu packet at mile 8 and mile 14 with water stops about every 3 miles.  I felt great and knew I could run more if I had to.  I ended the 20 miler with the last 3 miles in 8:34, 8:19, and 8:08.  That never happens!

2011 Christmas Eve 20 Miler

So, yes, I have given Gu a second chance and discovered its many benefits.  I am a fan!  And no longer wondering when my next marathon will be.  Gu has worked so well for me in these two training runs that I signed up for the Five Points of Life Marathon on February 19, 2012.  I will keep using it in training so I know exactly how much to use on race day.  Fueling issues are now under control.

Go long

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

In keeping with the theme of George Sheehan’s “experiment of one,” I have to say that my experiment of going longer than 20 miles in marathon training definitely worked for me.  As I look back on my training for the Space Coast Marathon I see many more long slow runs than I have ever done in any other marathon training before.  I took a longer taper of 3+ weeks, did not do much speed work other than the weekend races, ran a few tempo runs, and did a lot more hill work.  My 26.2 mile training run on November 1, 2011 was a first for me and was a huge factor in preparing me for Space Coast.  I ran it in 3:51 which is about 8:49 pace.

First ever 26.2 mile training run

On race morning I woke up feeling rested and really ready for the Space Coast Marathon.  My goal was to run the first 20 miles at 8:00 per mile pace and then hopefully pick it up a little the last 6.2 miles to achieve my goal of running just under 3:30.  I was amazed at how good I felt as each mile buzzed on my Garmin:  8:04, 7:54, 7:52, 7:48, 7:54, 7:56, 7:46, 7:56, 7:59, 7:55, 7:54, 8:00, 7:48, 7:50, 7:58.  The first half of the course had rolling hills which kept it interesting.  We ran north out and back and when I reached 13 miles near the starting line I was still smiling and feeling good.  I was happy to see the crowds and hear someone call out my name.  Then we headed south on the same course as the half marathoners.

By the time I hit 18 miles my average pace was 7:56.  And that’s when I felt it.  I knew right then that the miles would no longer feel good and be on pace.  Miles 18-20 dropped to 8:10 and 8:20 which took my average pace to exactly 8:00 by mile 20.  At that point it was mind over matter.  I used every mantra, every bribe, every positive thing I could think of to convince my body that it could give a little more…just 6.2 miles, a 10K, no problem!  I focused on one mile at a time.  I then focused on just getting to the next water stop.  I willed myself to close to mile 25 and then had to walk.  My breathing was so labored that I walked for six minutes straight and that labored breathing would not slow down, which had me a little concerned.  After walking and drinking some super concentrated Gatorade I somehow started running again and made it to the finish in 3:43:08 which is 8:31 pace.

2011 Space Coast Marathon

Normally I am extremely sore through Thursday after a Sunday marathon.  I mean I cannot walk normally until at least Thursday and stairs – forget it!  This time I had some soreness Monday and Tuesday but it was not that bad.  By Thursday I was out running again.  This more than anything has me convinced that I was properly trained for this marathon.  Maybe for the first time in my life!  This was the first time I ran several 18-20 milers and one 26.2 mile training run.  This is very exciting!!!

The reason for my “bonk” at Space Coast around mile 18-20 and eventual walking at mile 25 was lack of proper fuel during the race.  At first I was extremely upset and disappointed at missing my goal but after realizing it was not due to training but fuel, I am now determined to figure out how to fix that.  I can’t wait to start some long runs again and experiment with Sharkies, PowerBar Energy Bites, Gatorade, and water to figure out the right mix for me during a marathon.  I’m not sure when that next marathon will be, but I am already excited to do another so I can see what I am capable of doing now.  My marathon PR was set back in 1998 and I have not run close to that 3:18 since then.  Yet, my half marathon PR was set in 2010 so I know I still have some fast races in me!

For my next marathon, I will definitely run more long runs of 26, 28, and who knows, maybe close to 30 miles!  That is definitely what works for me.  And you can bet I will be eating and drinking a lot more than usual during those training runs until I have that down to an exact science for me, in my “experiment of one.”


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