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Lessons learned from my 20 mile long run...Technical stuff

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- 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.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • v POOHLA711
    Thanks for the link to this! Very informative. Definitely lots of great tips that I can use.
    1877 days ago
    WOW. I hope I will run like you one day; after taking a few months off, I'm struggling to run for more than 3 minutes at a time!
    1878 days ago
    Lots of great information you learn along the way. Wish this blog was available when I started my distances. Also, when I did my marathon, I took gatorade in my fuel bottles and alternated between gatorade and water, (at the water stations). This helped with hydration and I really felt great...along the way.

    You're doing a great job with your training and it definitely shows!! Keep it up!
    1878 days ago
  • v ANNIE7205
    Thanks for the info - this is great. I'm still at lower mileage (my long run right now is 6 miles) but I'm going to be ramping it up soon, my first half is in September. While some of this may not be necessary for 13.1 miles, it's good info to keep in the back of my mind and tweak to fit my needs, or to use if I get crazy enough to start training for a full.
    1879 days ago
    Love've mentioned a lot of things I've never really considered. The gel/water mixture is genius, but also the calorie ratio of the heavier runner. I'd never considered that I was running out of energy because I was burning more fuel than the average runner and therefore needing more fuel. I know what you mean about variety and something to cleanse the palate. I'm a sports beans girl and they can leave a really heavy flavor/texture behind. My sister/running partner and I had discussed this recently and thought that nuts might be a good take along. Cashews and pistachios were at the top of our lists :). Haven't tried it yet, but thought that the protein/calorie mix would help and the salty would counter the sweet from the gels/beans. Hadn't really gotten to the point of digestive issues...we both are pretty non-reactive to most items. We have a race this weekend (5K for me, 10K for her), but next weekend starts building again so we'll put some of your ideas and some of ours to the test and find out what works. Love this blog...gave me lots to consider and try :).
    1880 days ago
    Great Blog!! Very helpful.. I feel the same way about Gu. Tried it for the first time while doing my first Half.. .YUCK! My tummy didn't like it at all. However, it did get me through and I fought off my stomach. I rather walk it bit during a long run and chomp down a lara or cliff mini bar. I will have to try the Hammer.. comes recommended by a few now. I am still very new to all this. My longest distance is 15 miles but not for any race/marathon. I am still a work in process. Thank you for the great info :)
    1881 days ago
  • v IMSMILEY88
    First of all, great job on the 20 miles! So far, I can't imagine going that far! But, I bet I will one day...!

    Also, I second the Sports Beans. I also love the Honey Stingers that are like gummies. Both of these seem like 'treats' to me, and I'd almost run long just so I could eat them! I've only tried Gus once, and HATED it. And, I've tried the Honey Stingers honey in a pouch, too. Liked it, but thick & hard to swallow... and got myself pretty messy! Then, what do you do with the packet???

    Thanks for all of your insight! It sounds like you are learning a LOT about what works for you...and what doesn't! You're going to ROCK that marathon!
    1881 days ago
    Gory details welcome and very helpful. I'm looking to start building my mileage beyond the half mark, have struggled with some of these very details. As always, your posts are very insightful--thank you!
    1881 days ago
    First 20 miles in crazy long. I only ran this one or two times when I was training for my first marathon. Are you planning on making this routine? It seems like an awful lot. Great job kicking it. A big WooHoo to you!!

    Great blog too. I actually eat Sport Beans (energizing jelly beans) with carbs, electrolytes and vitamins B & C is how it is advertised. They taste just like jelly beans. I love them. I thought of these when you mentioned you wished you had hard candy handy. You might like them.
    1881 days ago
    Such valuable information - thank you!

    I'm still learning about fueling, and I just can't wrap my head around Gu or any other kind of power in a packet. I'm trying Honey Stinger chews, which are like Clif Shot Blocks, only somehow better.

    I haven't tried any other recovery drink other than chocolate milk yet. I HAVE tried, this past Saturday after my first 10.5 miler, an ice bath (or cold water bath to be honest, our water's still cold enough there's no need for ice) as recommended by Jeff Galloway. No trouble or pain afterward, or the next day. I'mm convinced!

    Thanks again for sharing this information. I appreciate it!
    1881 days ago
    Hey Robert
    For our long runs we sometimes bring peanut butter filled pretzles - yum! It gives you that salty flavor you are craving.
    You might give it a try next time.

    I think it's really great that you are practicing fueling during your training runs. It will really help you when you are actually in the race!

    Great job!!!

    1881 days ago
    Though not even close to this level yet..I always enjoy your insights into your running experiences!! You truly are inspirational!! Keep up the awesome training/running...And keep the info coming!! emoticon emoticon
    1881 days ago
  • v BLUEROSE73
    wow. Thanks for sharing all these details. I'm training for my first marathon this fall. I will definitely be using some of this information.
    1881 days ago
    Thanks. I love learning from your experience. I will try some of what you have discovered.
    1881 days ago
    Thanks for the info! It is all a learning process. Have you tried Honey Stinger gels? I wonder how they dissolve. I use them if I have to use a gel and I will put them to the test. I have to start fueling better and hydrating better, too. I did 18 yesterday and after taking in 60 ounces and Honey Stinger Chews I lost 10 pounds. Not good. I will continue to see what works and weigh myself before and after the runs to see what happens. I will let you know.
    1881 days ago
  • v ACTIVE_AT_60
    this is a very thoughtful blog and for those who read it packed with information.

    A couple of comments.
    - doing yoga once or twice a week may help you and you may not have the need to stretch.
    - I am a Hammer person as well. By far the most palatable as you say. It sits well in my stomach as well. One alternative is to use HEED in your flasks as well.
    -Have you tried Cliff shot blocks?
    1881 days ago
  • v WENDY1075
    Love the idea of mixing the Hammer gel in water - my boss first told me about this, but I haven't tried it yet. I find it hard to get those gels down, especially later in the run. The water trick must help.

    Glad you posted this - super helpful. And you'll be so glad you can refer back to it while training.
    1881 days ago
  • v DUKEFAN86
    Enjoyed your post! Great run! COngrats on breaking this mileage barrier.
    1881 days ago
  • v JREA24
    Thanks for the info and great job.
    1881 days ago
  • v DRB13_1
    Thanks for sharing the summary AND the details!
    1881 days ago
    Great blog and the information is vital for runners!
    1881 days ago
  • v KAREN_NY
    Nice little discoveries do add up! :) So glad to hear that the run/walk intervals actually work, too. Thanks for sharing,
    1881 days ago
    Thanks for all the great info. Even though I don't run right now, destroys my shins, your info will help when I decide to run again. I also think that the information you shared will help anyone looking to do long runs and participates in an organized even.

    You are emoticon . You realy are the best to share the experience for those less experienced. emoticon
    1882 days ago
    you rock!!! goct any tips for when i'm so freaking hot and hurting i dont think i can take another step? i only do 3 miles a day, mind you, but this freakin heat is so bothering me. Its really hard to finish. so far i've made the 3 miles every day but one, and that day i had 14 hours in the bakery and just couldnt manage more than 2.5 miles, and it was a miracle i did that.
    i'm lookng out the window..its hot..the sun is pounding down..i have another hour of baking before i can even think about a walk. i usually try to go at 6 am when its cooler but i'm on a deadline with this one and they have to be FRESH and warm out of the oven for this order so no choice.
    1882 days ago
    Great job on the 20 miler and thanks for the good information on fueling the run!
    1882 days ago
    Ahhh, I heard this all before! Oh, that's right, we had this conversation Friday. emoticon Thanks for putting it in writing so I can keep referring back. 20 miles? Whew!
    1882 days ago
    1882 days ago
    THANKS Robert....that was alot of really great, gory (and helpful) information. Thanks for once again being our guinea pig and saving us from some of the trial and error! YOU'RE THE BEST!!!
    1882 days ago
  • v EDWINA172
    Thanks for posting. I am training for my 2nd 1/2 marathon and had issues with GU also. I like water in my camelback and eat Sportbeans on my walk breaks. I use the Galloway method and do 2:1 intervals. I really should think about more of a calorie intake and start earlier in my runs too. This is a very helpful blog. I will share it with our run team! You're the best!!!!
    1882 days ago
  • v BURTON79B
    Sounds like your getting there! I think u will totally be ready for Rochester! I can't seem to find the time to run more than 5 miles between midnight shift and school age kids! Oh and of course the dang rain!!! I so want to lenthen my runs!!!
    1882 days ago
    Thank you for sharing. I'm not a fan of GU, leaves me feeling like road kill. I'm hypoglycemic and I've been experimenting with sugar water and herbal teas. Only because I'm a big herbal tea drinker. Any warm berry flavored or peppermint tea mixed with sugar. I pop them in the fridge overnight and I'm ready to go the next day.

    I'll try the hammer gel, I haven't heard of it yet but dig what you wrote. Cheers!
    1882 days ago
  • v LILIVW
    Thanks for all the good information. I have found gu, sports beans and cliff bloks to be too sweet. I will have to try the hammer product and see how it goes.
    1882 days ago
    Awesome! Thanks for the gorey details! emoticon
    1882 days ago
    comment about GU it creates poo, not only do they taste yucky they have bad side effects.
    1882 days ago
    You are amazing!
    1882 days ago
  • v MIQUEY73
    WOW! 20 miles. That's awesome! Sorry, I didn't read the gory details (I'm not a runner so most of it probably wouldn't make sense to me anyway. emoticon ) but I did read the highlights. Glad you found what works for you! Keep up the great work!
    1882 days ago
    All good stuff to consider - thank you for sharing!
    1882 days ago
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