Marathon training is, not surprisingly, proving to be educational!
Eating for the long run
The long runs have inevitably been getting longer. A concern for me going into marathon training has been hitting the proverbial wall. Historically during my half marathons, I’ve started to burn out around mile 10. This is worrisome because while I’ve managed to get through that last 3.1 miles to finish the race; that’s really early to hit a wall in a marathon.
It occurred to me that maybe I wasn’t getting enough nutrition before the run.
I’ve always limited what I eat before I run; ever since I was a newbie and a seemingly innocent bowl of cereal with milk mandated an abrupt end to my training run.
Since then, I’ve managed to make it on a banana or two. And when running more than an hour, some honey stingers. I figured the carb load the night before a big run was sufficient.
My first official long run in training was 13 miles on the plan. For some reason I had 14 miles in my head. And because I wanted to stay with my friend, I ended up running almost 15 miles.
But I would have gladly given up at 10 miles in. I was wiped out already.
So I decided to do some research and also look back on notes from one of my Fizio team coaches. Some of the information is outlined in this post.
In addition, I heard a runner on a podcast talking about getting a decent snack or small breakfast in before an early morning run. Who wants to get up even earlier to eat, right? A suggestion was to set the alarm for around 2 hours before the planned run, get up and eat a small meal, and then go back to bed for a bit. That way you can get an early breakfast in and still feel rested.
I can do that, I thought. The dogs usually wake me up around 4 to go outside. I decided I could make some toast with peanut butter and a banana while they took care of their business.
So I set the alarm for 4:30 on the next Saturday morning and prepared my small breakfast. The dogs were watching me intently and curiously as I nibbled at my meal. I didn’t want to eat too fast, but I also wanted to get back to bed for another hour.
Just before we started our run, I ate a honey stinger; then had another every 40 minutes or so. In addition, we stopped at a market to refill our water bottles and I added a nuun tablet to mine for electrolytes. I ran a total of 16 miles that day and felt tired, but didn’t burn out.
This past weekend I dropped back to 14 because of the Komen race the next day. I followed the same breakfast protocol. The only thing I did differently this time was to add half a nuun tablet to my water before we even set out.
Not only did I not bonk, but in reviewing my run, my fastest mile of the day was – you’ll never guess – mile 10! I am ecstatic that this challenge has been defeated!
Here are a couple of Fitbit screenshots from my recent long runs
What Not To Eat
Diet has played a part in other aspects of my training as well. My family and I celebrated my birthday a few weeks ago as decadently as one would presume; with cake and ice cream and pizza. And milk, of course, with the cake.
Now, while I absolutely love dairy, my toleration of it seems to be decreasing. But I didn’t over consume the day before any running, so I thought there would be no problem.
I was wrong. Even though Monday was a rest day, I was still extremely uncomfortable when I showed up for speed work on Tuesday. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I managed to make it through the workout. It was a good reminder to limit my intake of dairy, especially during training.
Something else I’ve noticed at the track is overcoming fear. The speed intervals are helping me run faster and also learn when to pace myself, for sure.
They’re also teaching me that I can run faster. And that part seems to be intimidating.
Last week, for instance, we were slated to do 6 800 meter intervals, and aim for making each interval 5 seconds faster than the previous one. When Coach Erik called out my time for the second and third, they were each more than 5 second faster than the previous. My fourth interval was the fastest I had ever run.
I decided it was a good time to stop for the morning.
Granted, I was pushing my time, and knew I needed to cool down and stretch before getting ready for work.
But honestly, part of it was also that the speed overwhelmed me a bit.
The same thing had happened the week before; only it wasn’t hearing the speed of my interval. It was using all I had to keep up with two of my teammates.
I guess there’s nothing wrong with wanting to end the training session on a positive, especially when I truly believe I was pushing myself to my limit at that time.
The intimidation factor is in my head. It harkens back to my middle school days in PE, when I hated running, and the coach would push me around the track. “Move, Henry! “ (my maiden name). I can still hear it.
What I should be thinking is, if only coach could see me now! Well, they wouldn’t recognize me and I most likely wouldn’t recognize them, some 35 years or more later!
Anyway, I guess that’s what marathon training is all about. Pushing your limits. Learning how to sustain.
In that case, so far, so good!
What training tips have you picked up recently? Please share in the comments