Tag Archives: long run

Varying my nutrition plan for ultra success

3 Mar


Click on any photo to launch the gallery.

Let’s put a Burger King at the 20-mile mark of every run!

With just over 4 weeks to my 50-mile ultra, this was a weekend for learning little lessons about the long run and pushing my limit a bit further out.

Saturday was a 10-miler and Sunday was a 25-miler — run from Keokuk, Iowa, to Fort Madison, Iowa, and back about 5 miles. The first run was simply designed to put some stress on the body before heading into the longer run on the following day.

One thing that has me nervous about my pending ultra is how I will handle the nutrition during the run. I’ve been OD’ing on Honey Stingers and the like on my shorter training runs, and I think I need to branch out if I’m going to make it through the ultra. I’m prepared to stay on the trail for 12 hours or so, and I don’t think I can subsist on sweet gummy chews for the whole time.

25 mile runSo Sunday I decided to branch out with two different fueling snacks.

I stopped at a Casey’s convenience store about 11 miles into the run to pick up a chocolate milk and replenish my water. The chocolate milk went down well, except for the foam that it developed as I sloshed down the road for 2-3 miles.

My second snack was a bit more substantial, but now I think every run/race should have a Burger King at the 20-mile mark! I ordered a Whopper Jr. and a small Coke, and I made use of the restroom (another much-appreciated luxury when doing a long run). I’d say in the future I would only eat half or three-quarters of the burger, but it sure tasted good.

It took about 15 minutes to get my burger and Coke and get back on the road, but I felt a surge when I hit the road again. The last 5 miles went pretty well.

In addition to the two snacks, I also ate a couple packages of Honey Stinger gels, two Keebler cookies (their rip-off of the Girl Scouts’ Caramel Delites) and three waters.

I don’t know if my nutrition plan is good or not. There’s probably a lot of protein in the two snacks I ate today, but it seemed to work for me so far.

Next week, I’ll extend the Sunday run to 30 miles while keeping Saturday’s at 10. And from there, it will be a taper until the Saturday, April 6, race — the Potawatomi Trail 50 in Pekin, Ill.

ADVICE WANTED: Do you have any great ideas for fuel during ultras? I’d love to hear them.

Sunday’s 20-miler

28 Jan

Click on a photo above to launch the gallery.

Freezing rain all morning tested my patience, but by about 1 o’clock the rain stopped and I was able to hit the road by about 2 o’clock. This weekend, I lengthened the long run by 3 miles.

After last Sunday’s bout with nausea after the run, I made sure to drink plenty of water and ingest plenty of calories on the run. I drank 36 ounces of water over the course of the run, and I ate one package of Honey Stinger Energy Chews and one package of PowerBar Energy Blasts. And I ate a half an orange in the last three miles of the run.

Barb had a smoothie ready when I got home, and, after a long shower, I had some home-made gumbo. That entire combination seemed to do the trick. Other than some really sore and tight muscles, I felt great.

For a map from Endomondo on Sunday’s run, click here.

I haven’t had a cutback week in too long, so next weekend I plan to do back to back 9-mile runs on Saturday and Sunday.

Another training mistake, another lesson learned

23 Oct

I wish I had taken up running at an earlier age.

This pretty well sums up my race.

If I had, I would have had gotten my racing screw-ups out of the way while I still had time to correct my mistakes and had the fresh, young legs in subsequent years to benefit from the experience.

I ran the Des Moines marathon on Sunday, although “ran” is a pretty generous term. It was my 9th marathon, my third in Des Moines and my 17th long-distance race overall.

Sunday’s race was my worst-ever for a marathon. I finished in 4 hours, 58 minutes and some change. And I had to break back into a shuffle/run in order to ensure that I beat the 5-hour threshold.

I felt pretty darn good through the halfway point. At about the 16-mile mark, I could feel myself struggling to keep pace. By the 18-mile mark, I knew it would be a long day. By the 24-mile mark, I sat on my butt for a minute or so just to give my quads a break. I’ve never felt that sensation in a race before, and I hope I never do again.

The meltdown in Des Moines comes seven months after a setting a new PR in New Orleans. Talk about highs and lows.

How do you have your best race and your worst race in the same calendar year? Well, it’s a two-step plan.

  • Step 1: Convince yourself that you can convert a planned 22-mile training run into an easy 26-mile race and not see any detrimental effects.

Early in the year, I planned on running two marathons: New Orleans in March and Des Moines in October. But when a trail marathon was announced for my hometown, I couldn’t resist entering — even if this event came just five weeks before my main race.

This sign added a bit a levity to a difficult race. If I can apply this to my own run, I ran a sub 3:30 marathon! Boston here I come.

I thought about running the half marathon in my hometown, but the siren song of the marathon was too great. How could I miss the inaugural marathon?

  • Step 2: Disregard the three-week taper you had planned and move to a two-week taper.

This, I think, was the coup de grâce.

I drew up my training plan in the early summer, and I outlined my long runs, speedwork and taper. But when other events got in the way of completing my long runs as planned, I had to make changes. And instead of sacrificing a long run, I decided to do just one more before beginning my taper. Getting in that one more long run meant decreasing the taper from three weeks to two weeks.

This mistake was compounded by the additional long runs I undertook this summer. I planned for a 20-week training cycle, which gave me plenty of time to log mileage. In the 10 weeks leading up to Des Moines, I ran five long runs of 18 miles or longer, which includes the not-originally-planned marathon. The extra long runs definitely stressed my legs in particular and my body in general. I struggled on several of the long runs. But I seemed to bounce back enough by the next long run that I felt that I was making progress.

Even with the extra long runs during my training period and the extra marathon, I really think moving away from a three-week taper was the biggest mistake. The extra rest the three week taper would have provided might — just might — have made the other stressors pay dividends. But I’ll never know.

I was extremely disappointed on Sunday. It’s hard to see 20 weeks of hard training and many additional weeks of base building go for naught. But I guess they really didn’t. Mistakes are an opportunity for growth.

Barb, high school friend Dennis Keyes and I are ready for the race.

In past races and training, I’ve learned that I can no longer simply train through injuries, that heat will negatively impact a race pace and you have to add some fuel to the tank to finish strong. I’ve learned these lessons by making the requisite mistakes.

Now I’ve learned the value of a proper taper.

With that in mind, there’s only one thing to do: Pick out the next race and lay out a training plan. And this time, I’ll try to do a better job of sticking to the plan.

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