Friday, March 18, 2011

Hydration Transportation

I take a lot of long runs that are single loops or 'out and back' runs, depending on the route. I have to carry whatever hydration and nutrition I need on me and tote it through the course of the run. There's a fine line between packing adequately and weighing yourself down with needless crap. I used to pack a lot more than I do now. If I'm doing anything under a half-marathon distance, I will take one bottle of Gatorade. 20 ounces or so. I might take 1 GU, but other than that, it will just be the sports drink. For longer runs, I'll pack more.

There are a couple of options for carrying your hydration and nutrition. I've got a Nathan waist pack bottle holder that I've finally gotten adjusted correctly over the course of about 3 or 4 runs. The pack holds a standard size bike bottle (it came with a bottle as well) and a gel flask. It has a zippered pocket for more fuel, car keys or a cellphone. I've got a Fuelbelt with 4 x 8 ounce bottles and a pouch. I've also got a Camelbak-style pack that holds 2 liters of fluid and has all kinds of pockets. I'm going to give it a try on the next run and see how much it moves around. It might be the pack I use in Vermont this year.

The other thing I've done is just carry a bottle in my hand. I'll swap it back and forth over the course of the run. Summary - there are all kinds of options out there for carrying crap while you're running. The trick is to be comfortable with whatever you're using because if you're not, it will be a slice of hell over the course of a run because your pack will start bothering you and there's not much you can do about it! If you're trying something new, start with a short run and see how it goes. Move up to a longer run once you get things tweaked. A final word of advice - NEVER make alterations to the equipment you are using right before a big race. Stick with what you're used to training with.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Importance of Rest

NEVER underestimate the importance of a rest day. If your body tells you to take a break, take a break. Things to watch out for - elevated heartrate that doesn't go away during resting periods, heartrate that runs super-high during easy to moderate effort, feeling restless and fatigued - these are all good signs to look for.

I was very keyed up after yesterday's 7 miler. I felt good, and my pace was right where I wanted to be. It was one of those runs where everything goes right. The problem was, as soon as I got home I was jazzed up and ended up not being able to sleep. Couple this with the time change, which meant getting up an hour earlier than usual, and I'm dead on my feet today. I got in a 3 mile run at lunch and now my left calf is tightened up pretty good. None of this is cause for alarm. What I'm pointing out in this lesson-learning opportunity is the danger of perpetuating the issue.

I'm a caffeine fiend. I drink a ridiculous amount of energy drinks, coffee and soda. It is my one true vice. So when I get tired, the first thing I do is load up on more caffeine to try to get over the hump. This doesn't work for two reasons. First, I've built up such a tolerance to caffeine over time, that 'loading' doesn't do a damn thing. Second, it perpetuates the problem by dumping more caffeine into my system that is going to turn around and affect my sleep adversely when I finally try to settle down at the end of the day. Today has been a 'grin and bear it' kind of a day. I had a 12 ounce can of Coke first thing this morning and about a half-cup of coffee later in the morning. Now I'm dragging, but the last thing I want to do is load up on more caffeine. Especially now, when it is going to carry into the evening.

I've done a bit of experimentation with caffeinated energy gels during training and racing and I think there's some more work to be done there, finding out what works best. For a normal routine though, I'm making a concerted effort to have nothing with caffeine in it after noontime. Last week was a test run, this weekend I pretty much fell off the wagon, and now this week is the awkward induction phase. It won't be fun, but I think it will pay off huge dividends in the long run.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Remembering How to Run

I had a week or so after the marathon of very little activity because my legs were pretty much shot. After the break I started back slowly and tested myself daily with 2 to 3 mile runs, just to make sure I hadn't done any permanent damage to my knee. This past week's mileage was upped to about 20, with a long run outside today of 7 miles. After the run I felt absolutely awesome. 58:50 for the 7-miler, and I was eating up the hills at a sub-9 pace. I started off slow and didn't kick it up for a while, because my pace felt strange. I felt like I was going too slow, but that's what screwed me in Hyannis so I laid back. If I had actually been able to tell what my pace was (i.e. if the stupid Garmin had found a satellite sooner) I would have been running at a much faster pace from the start. Oh well.

It was about 40 to 45 degrees out, with fairly mild wind. I wore a tech t-shirt with a tech longsleeve over it, my Nike running tights and smartwool socks with the Merrells. My feet felt awesome. Contemplated wearing gloves but didn't. They were fine. I also wore the Nathan belt. I am still trying to get it to where it feels just right. It has an elastic waistband that just has too much give to it. I had to take it off mid-run and tighten it more because the bottle was jumping around. I think I finally got it right.

Now that the mileage feels good, I'm going to start nailing my tempo and interval runs and do 4-milers in between them on the 'easy' days. My long run I'll go ahead and increase by a mile or 2 each week and then I'll be good to go for the Big Lake half-marathon in May. I'm looking at 4 to 5 more marathons this summer and then the 50 miler in September. I'm in the lottery for the New York marathon, so it would be cool if that pans out. I'm going to start doing more cross-training and strength training. May not have a tri this year, but that's ok. I'm taking this year to get really good at running and get my speed where I think it should be.