I am writing this blog on the eve of my only pre-marathon event. Lots of people enter a half marathon a few weeks before race day as part of their preparation; to test out pacing, nutrition, running amongst a big crowd. So, tomorrow, I head to Snowdonia to Race A Train! I assure you, there will only be one winner! (SPOILER: it will have wheels). I had entered this event before entering the marathon, but it actually fits my plan quite nicely. Reviews read that although it is “only” a 14 mile event, due to terrain (hilly: very hilly) and conditions (forecast: rain and 45mph winds) it actually feels more like an 18-20 miler, so although It wont be so much “race pace” training, it will be good solid miles on mixed terrain, which I am a big fan of as mentioned in Blog #2.
Also in my previous blog, I alluded to my battle with getting nutrition correct. Throw into that particular hat, hydration. It took me a few training runs trying out various methods of carrying fluids, always with the aim of (besides hydrating appropriately) training using the method I intend to use on Race Day. I have settled on using my camelbak. Benefit of this is that I am hands free, as I find carrying anything in my hands when running incredibly frustrating. Limitation of this is that you are hydrating ‘blind’, as it were. Because the bladder is on your back, in a rucksack, you don’t get to see the fluids go, so even though you may think that you are drinking lots, it’s very hard to judge. I’ve had runs where I’m convinced my intake has been great and yet had half of the bladder still full at the end; conversely, I’ve ran out of fluids miles from home. So, still practice to do there.
Back to nutrition. Most research demonstrates that the rate of absorption of carbohydrates (the main source of energy for someone who isn’t ‘fat adapted’) when exercising is around 1 gram per minute, this can increase to 1.5 grams per minute with glucose-fructose mixtures – so look out for sports drinks with a 2:1 Glucose – Fructose ratio (ref 1 and 2). This means it doesn’t make much sense for most people to consume more than 60g of carbohydrates per hour during a marathon To flip that on its head, however, I find it incredibly difficult to get 60g of carbs on-board. For those of you au fait with energy gels, that translates to roughly 3…….. an hour! Fairly early in my training I discovered that my stomach simply does not like too many gels. Running for approx. 3 hours in training, 2 gels in total seems to be my limit. So with this fairly large shortfall, I have been using plain old real food! Again, lots of trial and error, but I seem to have found a) a source that my stomach likes, b) a source that my taste buds enjoy and c) a good dosage.
Mileage wise, July was my biggest mileage month ever, but still less than the mileage clocked up in a week, for some. Some good runs, some not so good, but the not-so-good ones are still over distances I simply have never ran before, so I still have to be pleased. In the next blog I will go a bit deeper into the psychology of long endurance events as this is something that’s really helped.
6 weeks to go.
Song: (special mention to Tame Impala – Feels Like We Always Go Backwards)
1. Jentjens, R. L. P. G.; Moseley, L.; Waring, R. H.; Harding, L. K.; Jeukendrup, A. E., Oxidation of combined ingestion of glucose and fructose during exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology 2003
2. Burke, L. M.; Hawley, J. A.; Wong, S. H. S.; Jeukendrup, A. E., Carbohydrates for training and competition. Journal of Sports Sciences 2011
N.B. There are no ‘one size fits all’ style quick fixes in most injury scenarios, so these article shouldn’t be seen as such. They are merely guides to a better understanding of how our bodies work.