Monday, May 30, 2011
Not a particularly inspirational blog but one of a more practical nature for those looking to glean a little helpful info for a better long run. This will be of absolutely no interest to non-runners or experienced runners for that matter.
If you are not interested in the details below, here is a summary..
things that made the difference....
- proactively stretching throughout the run whether I felt the need or not.
- Fueling early in the run every 30 min at a rate of about 250-300 cal per hour
- Run/Walk intervals right from the start
- Pre-mixing my fuel with water in flasks rather than shooting a gel then drinking water after - went to my system far faster.
- taste test - GU SUX, use Hammer Gels.
By doing these things I got past the nutritional wall and mental wall and finally went to my physical limit. My limit used to be around 13.1 to 15. To add an additional 5 miles just my tweaking my nutrition and walk intervals with no additional conditioning makes a huge statement as to how important exertion and nutrition management really is. It could be that the barriers you hit may be something other than a physical limitation. something to consider.
The uninteresting technical gory details....
I did a 20 mile run/walk and gained alot of insight that I wanted to pass on. Previously, my long run was 15 miles.
Running nutrition- ....my biggest mistake I was making was running in half marathon mode where I wouldnt fuel until about mile 5 or 6... big mistake on longer distances. I am a pretty big dude. At 6' 3'' and 290 lbs, I am by definition and practice, a penguin runner. That also means I burn far more calories than the average svelte runner. My 5K burn per Polar HRM is appx 590-650 calories depending on terrain and subsequent exertion. HM caloric expenditure is appx 2700 calories. With a HM time of about 3hr 15 min or 3.25 ... 2700 / 3.25 is about 830 cal per hour - all approximate but probably pretty close. GU packs are 100 cal per pack so if I fuel 1 pack 1x per 45 min then I am still running at a pretty big deficit.
Not only am I running a big deficit but i have noticed that after my long runs in HM training, I would come home and devour anything in my path... a sure sign of low blood sugar. I opted to actually start using my head and fueling at a rate of 250-300 cal per hour starting after the first hour because I had eaten before the run.
Fueling method - after having some unhappy experiences with GU and upset stomach issues, i decided to experiment a little. I bought a belt with 8oz fuel flasks - nothing out of the ordinary. I took 3 GU packs and pre-dissolved them in the 8oz flask, then also used Hammer gel in another and then honey in another. the idea being that pre-dissolved fuel will hit the bloodstream alot faster than if it needs to digest, even if taken with water. I fueled with a half flask every 30 minutes rather than every every 45.
The dissolve test
- GU was like a glob that would not go away and took alot to get it to break down. This explains alot because GU has a bad rep for causing tummy issues. I can see why. When deliberately mixed with water in a way that would make dissolving easy, it was tough to do. imagine how it is reacting in your stomach when taken with water, not mixed in water. also remember that as the distance increases, stress is placed on the digestive system further complicating the ability to process GU globs.
- Hammer Gel - The other commercial gel used. Hands down winner! dissolved with next to no effort.
- Honey - obviously not a commercial electrolyte type product but when mixed with water, provided a powerful glucose boost 60 cal per .75 oz 120 cal per 1.5 oz or mix 3 oz honey with the remaining 6 oz water for a 240 cal flask- strong and yucky but when chased by water from my water bottle, worked like a charm. easy digestion, no issues.
Taste test - flavor may seem like a trivial issue when in a shorter distance endeavor but it becomes a BIG issue over a long distance. not 100% sure why but it is very much a mental thing. too much of one flavor can be physically nauseating.
GU- tasted like...GU :(
Hammer Gel - by far the most palatable with its natural flavors. the hands down winner in my book. I am a Hammer man now...
Honey - good in small doses to mix up the flavor or if you need a glucose shot without all of the extra stuff. It will be a part of my fueling but a little of it goes a long way
Overall taste observations
- I would experiment with a wide variety of flavors and carry a little of each to really mix it up. Again it seems trivial but after 15 miles it became a big deal with me.
- What I wish I had done -- I wish I had some hard candy or any wide variety of flavors. it provides a huge mental distraction. after 18 miles, the thought of taking another shot of anything left me feeling like i was gonna yak. variety is the spice of (running) life. Also, I would have KILLED for some saltines just to wipe the yucky crap yuk mouth flavor out of my mouth or maybe it was the salt and carbs?? I just had this intense craving for it that would have had me mugging a Girl Scout to get it. What a way to start a life of crime....
Run / Walk considerations -
- This time I started right from the get go on a run walk interval, forcing myself to walk the first 3/4 mile just to get myself to slowdown and settle into a easy pace. I followed a 5 to 1 ration for a while right from the start. As a result between the early walking and 30 min fueling, i sailed past 13.1 without a hiccup and passed 15 without much effort. As fatigue set in, the run/walk intervals were done totally by feel and done as necessary without any particular pattern. Just whatever produced the amount of recovery needed to go another mile. That carried me easily through to mile 18 where I started having endurance issues. I didnt quite hit the wall as defined by the typical runner but there was a very defined slowdown and lack of energy but I still think that hitting the wall was yet to come as I have heard it described.
Proactive Stretching -
- A HUGE plus in a training run. taking a proactive stance on stretching i think really helped me go as far as I did. What I mean by proactive is that I stretched at various times during the early parts of the run before I felt any need. Each stretch session was at the most a minute or 1.5 minutes at the most. with 4 stretches by 13.1 , WHO CARES ABOUT LOSING 6 Min? I would gladly trade 6 min off my time for a safe, happy training run. Even in a race, unless you are qualifying for Boston or trying to run down a Kenyan, who gives a rip? My definition of winning is crossing the finish line with a smile and being able to WALK.
Later in my run, it paid off. The cramping was not as severe and took less time to deal with them when I really needed to.
recovery drink - I have used Recoverite by Hammer nutrition for a while now and totally swear by this stuff. Its almost like cheating! I had a bottle pre-mixed in my truck just waiting for me. taken within 30 min of your run make s a big difference in how things turn out for recovery. there is about a 30 min window after a hard workout that your muscles are very receptive to carb and protein absorbtion, enhancing the recovery process. Chocolate milk is another favorite of mine. proven to have the right mix of carbs and protein, it is a really good pick and easily available.
for what its worth, thats all of the gory details.