Sunday, February 27, 2011

Super long runs are almost done!

Yesterday I completed 11 miles. It was the first time I actually didn't want to run. I really wanted to just sleep in and enjoy my warm, comfy bed. I'm beginning to see that the taper at the end of training is not only for physical reasons but for mental reasons too. At this point in my training I'm just tired in every sense of the word. I mean, the training helps me lose weight, get in shape, give me confidence, improve my health, yada yada, but it's hard after nearly three months. That's a long time! It'll be worth it in a couple weeks when I finish the race; it's just a little tough to remember sometimes.

On a good note, half way into my run I got my second wind and finished strong. That was good because the first half I was just going through the motions. That shows me that even if I get a rough start at the race I can still have room to recover. My fueling during the run is set (one pack of Honey Stingers per hour), and the hydration is covered (Accelerade fruit punch flavor is yummy!). All I have to do is finish my training and then finish the race :)

On a funny note, Rex wants me to say that on Saturdays I waddle like a duck because my legs are so tired and calves are tight. He finds it extremely hilarious. My parents also found it to be funny yesterday and noted that when I was younger I couldn't be bothered with anything that smacked of exercise except riding bikes and here I am running 11 miles on my own. I think they are wondering what happened to the daughter they raised and the one who came to visit them yesterday.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

More tweaks to the long runs...

I'm in the training phase now that requires some experimentation during long runs so I can avoid any nasty and unwelcome surprises during the race itself. 13.1 miles is a long way to go when you're stomach is upset (upper or lower GI distress), you've forgotten what's going on because your electrolytes or sugars are way off, the new shoes you bought gave you blisters, etc, etc. The list of disasters is very long.

Last week I tried Accelerade, which tastes much better than I had thought it would. I tried the orange flavor, and while the flavor is actually pretty intense, it keeps me from chugging the whole bottle in one gulp. As a result of the drink on top of an extra packet of Honey Stingers with me on the run, I ended up finishing totally tired and exhausted but not with any kind of headache, confusion, irritability, lethargy, etc. Turns out 10 miles still wipes you out though so I took a nap later that afternoon. The headache I got later that evening was due to low blood sugar because I was starving and trying not to eat too much.

So far I think I'm on track for the half-marathon. My only concern is being counted as a non-finisher, but I can't let it bog me down. If they don't count me as a finisher, it doesn't mean I didn't actually finish. I just don't get an "official" time. I'm still buying one of those 13.1 stickers for my car LOL!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fueling Runs Part 2

So, starting a run when I'm completely famished is a recipe for disaster. You probably already knew that. I should have known that. What was supposed to be an easy 4 miles yesterday turned into a grueling 2 miles of pathetic shuffling. The reason I had thought I'd be fine is that in the past I have gone on what I considered short runs (usually no more than 3 miles) and eaten nothing beforehand. Due to the significant increase in caloric burn lately, I think my body is adjusting and now requires more fuel all the time. Why didn't I just eat when I was hungry? Well, I forgot for one, and I am so used to trying to curb the amount I eat that I didn't take my new exercise regime into account.

For instance, I often try to stay away from huge portions because I love to eat and have very little willpower. I have also gotten used to accepting that just because I run I don't have a license to eat like a glutton. I'll find a happy medium soon.

I also have been working really, really hard to decrease the amount of salt I eat. Significantly less processed foods, less eating out, kosher salt instead of granular salt when I cook, etc. When the running store employee tried to convince me to take some salt tablets, I freaked. I wish I had listened, because last Saturday wasn't a good day after the run. My hypoglycemia also shares some symptoms of hyponatremia, so I just wasn't fully aware of what my body was telling me.'s what my latest game plan is:
  • Buy more gummies for the long runs (turns out I should eat them sooner than an hour into the run). I think I'm gonna aim for a packet every 45 minutes. This should ultimately add up to 4 packets for the whole 13 miles. I'll add a 5th just to be on the safe side.
  • Get those darned salt thingies. That one really goes against the grain, but it's better to be safe here.
  • Get a sports drink with electrolytes in it to rehydrate while running. This will help keep my body from flushing out too much salt and potassium. I'll ask the running store folks which is best for someone like me.
What I am very glad about is that I'm taking the time now during training to figure this stuff out. I can't imagine trying a new drink or technique the day of the race. After Saturday's 10 miles I'll let you know how this new plan works out.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Long runs and fueling them plus other lessons

When I initially decided to train for a half-marathon, I knew training would be different than it was for 5ks and 10ks. What I didn't know and anticipate was exactly how different training would be, particularly for long runs. My local running store has been an excellent resource in adjusting to these differences (OMG Honey Stingers are sooooo good!), but I want to detail exactly what I've learned so far in all my various training experiences.

What I learned training for the Peachtree:
  • Hyponatremia is easier to get than I thought, especially when I'm sweating a lot. What I had thought were tension headaches were really a lack of salt after running and sweating buckets.
  • I tried too hard to run the whole distance thinking only novices took walk breaks. This set me up for sciatica that was excruciating and eventually ruined my Peachtree experience. The mental setback was significantly more painful than the actual injury.
  • The right shoes and gear matter - a lot!
  • If it's too hot outside, I'm just not going to have a fantastic run. That's okay.
Because I was able to retain these lessons, the training for the half has been pretty good. Here's what I have learned so far training for the awesome 13.1 miles I'll walk/run in a few weeks:
  • Cooler weather is my friend! Once I get warmed up, I don't struggle so hard to keep going.
  • But just because it's cold and I don't think I'm sweating doesn't mean I'm not actually drenched in sweat. Today was my first hyponatremia headache, and it's not pleasant. I'm going to get some electrolyte refueling stuff from the running store this week. More about that later.
  • Due to my hypoglycemia, I need to eat something on the long run. The refueling helps tremendously.
  • The Stick is my friend! It brings a whole new meaning to "hurt so good".
  • Recovery runs, while they seemed insane at first, are also my friend.
So that's it so far. As I get more knowledge about what I need during the long runs, I'll post about it. Btw, almond milk mixed with chocolate syrup tastes just like chocolate covered almonds. YUM!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The advantages to running outdoors

Besides the feeling of being a hamster trapped in a wheel futility pumping my legs and not making any progress, there are other reasons I don't like the treadmill. You miss out on the natural breeze and fresh air of the outdoors, and the scenery changes as you move when outdoors. The best part about the nature trails around the Atlanta area is the wildlife. I've seen tons of squirrels, bunnies, been spooked by deer and spooked some myself (I even had one run with me for a few feet!), several Mallard pairs, and finally hawks. Specifically red-tailed hawks. Last Saturday I saw not one but two, and one was so close I felt like I was invading its personal space. They are very beautiful creatures and worthy of our respect. Surprises like this make running special each time I go out, which keeps me motivated.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Panic averted!

So after I worked myself up about how fast I was going and whether or not I'd get stuck being swept up in the race, I took a look at what my Garmin heart rate monitor tracked. I am averaging a 13:30 pace on my long runs. Phew! Given that I still have more training ahead of me and race pace always ends up being slightly faster, I'm fine. I'm not trying to be Superwoman here, but at least I know I'm not gonna get run over in Atlanta traffic because the race route has closed.

Speaking of training, I am reading in my half-marathon book about what kind of foods and fuel I should be eating. I feel okay with my normal diet, but I wanted to check the validity of carb loading. See, I would love to indulge in carb loading but something in the back of my mind told me that wasn't a good idea. Turns out it's not. There is no science behind it. A nutritionist had also verified this when I was training for the Peachtree, so take it from me. Don't carb load! It's just an excuse to eat a lot, and I don't need anymore help in that department.

I also wanted to check out what kind of energy boosts I should try during the race itself. Now is the time to experiment with that kind of stuff since many gels and supplements can make people nauseous. That is the last thing I want to deal with during a race. The book cautions against drinking too much water during the race, and I can agree with that due to experience. I've also learned I need to quit drinking water an hour before I run unless it's a short run. I do not plan on stopping in the middle of the race.

Some of you are thinking I can try a sports drink during the run. I've had mixed results with them. They usually work better for me post run, and honestly food works best for restoring my electrolytes. The good part about a sports drink is that it tastes good. I'll probably drink some during the race, but not much.

This week I've gotten no runs in due to the weather. Tuesday it was raining, and yesterday was a combo of rain/sleet/snow/ice. In short, it was awful. I hope it clears up for tomorrow's long run. I have a feeling it won't be a great run since I haven't had any training leading up to it, but I do want to knock it out.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I got a race update!

Well, it was mostly general information in an email, but I was still excited to get it. There were some important mundane details like race expo and packet pickup information, course maps, and sponsor information. The part that caught my eye was the pacing information. It turns out that if you are running slower than a 15 minute mile (which for me actually equals a run/walk pace), then you may not get a finish time and you could get pushed to the sidewalk to finish the race or can be driven to the finish on a truck. Suddenly I'm curious about my pace! They'll have pacers from local running stores to help you judge your time appropriately, but I'm dying to get home and check my Garmin and see what my average pace is. The reason this weighs on my mind is because I know I'm in that ballpark, and while a speedy finish isn't my goal I'd like to be counted as a finisher. You still get your complete race participation packet though, including the medal - just no official finish time from the race. I'll have my watch to measure my own time and pace, but still....

Anyway, I don't think I'll finish last. I know there are some walkers in every race, even the half marathon. I'll probably be second to last LOL! I'm not giving up though. If I happen to become a straggler, that's fine. At least I can say I completed the race and put that 13.1 sticker on my car!