Week 6 of training for the Mystic Half Marathon is done...6 weeks left to go!
Total distance for the week: 24.05 miles
Let's talk about mid-run fueling! Fun, right?
This was a big concern of mine as I trained for my half marathon last year. That was the first distance race I'd done that was long enough to require me to intake food mid-run. I was nervous about this, because I have a terribly sensitive stomach, especially in relation to running. I have had many a long run that leaves me in a fit of stomach cramps and bathroom trips for the rest of the day after it's done. I tried a few different fueling options before last year's race, with not many favorable results. I tried two caffeinated Gu's during 2 different long runs (both of which gave me almost immediate, horrific stomach cramps during the run), and one non-caffeinated Shot Block pack, which had better results. So that was what I used on race day...though I admittedly got distracted during the race and did not eat enough of them (yet another mitigating factor to my less-than-favorable finish).
However, I want to explore more options this time around, because in hindsight, I suspect that my problem with the caffeinated gels was due to user error. Specifically, that I didn't take in enough water after I ate them. They say right on the package that you need to hydrate like cray-cray after ingesting, which I kiiiiiiind of did, but I also have this fear of having to take too many bathroom breaks if I drink too much, so I likely under-did it with the water.
I stopped in to my local Fleet Feet on Friday to grab a few options:
Two are caffeinated (a Honey Stinger gel and a GU Roctane gel), three are uncaffeinated (a Honey Stinger waffle, a regular GU gel, and a pack of Shot Blocks...the same ones I used last year at the race). I decided to try the caffeinated Honey Stinger gel this week during long run. Keep reading to see how that went (I know you're dying to know). ;)
Monday: Rest. I tried to do some strength work, but I was still recovering from last week's nasty cold and did not get much done. Also, since my husband had to work late, I had to do it while my kids were awake. Small Fry tried to do the exercises with me ("Mom, why do we have to do planking for so long in a row? Can I just do it laying down while I play with my cars?") while Tater Tot jumped on my back during push ups. Great fun!
Tuesday: 4 miles, easy pace. I was still feeling unsure about my lung capacity (this cold would.not.die.) but this run went surprisingly well. 4 easy miles in the 37-degree pre-dawn darkness, 9:39 pace.
Wednesday: Rest. My cough came back somethin' NASTY Tuesday night, so I promised my husband (and my mom, who was visiting) that I would take a rest day for additional recovery time. Ho-hum.
Friday: 40 minute tempo run. Finally feeling fully back to myself by Thursday night, so I tried the tempo run Friday morning. It was...hard. Tempo/speed work is always hard for me though. I ran easy for 10 minutes, then upped my pace slowly until I hit 10K pace around 25 minutes, held that speed until the 28 minute mark, then brought it down slowly until I finished at 40 minutes. As much as I want to die of sweat saturation on the treadmill, I am thankful for it, because it forces me to keep the pace I want for tempo runs and intervals.
Saturday: 4 miles @ race pace. I was SO excited for a race pace run Saturday morning. Overall, it went well in the end, but it suffered early on from a case of Too Much Technology. I set my Garmin's Virtual Pacer (a feature I had never used before) to 9:45 so that it would keep me on my race pace. The VP beeps at you throughout the run to let you know if you are behind/on/ahead of your desired pace. I thought this sounded super helpful...right?
Uhhhh...I learned quickly that the pacer annoyed me more than anything. In the first minute or two, when I was still finding my stride, the darn thing was beeping at me every 5 seconds. Then, once I thought I had hit a good pace, it suddenly started telling me I was way ahead of pace. I looked down and saw that it was registering me at a 7:00 pace. UM, NO? I think I would know if I was running almost three minutes faster than usual. I waited a minute to see if it would fix itself, but it didn't. I finally stopped, paused the Garmin, then started it again.
At first, it seemed it may have fixed itself, but then I got the opposite problem: it started beeping and telling me I was behind pace, running at 12:30. Again--I think I would know if I was going that slow. I checked my Nike + (which is hard to do mid-run) and it confirmed that I was running closer to a 9:35 or so.
By the 3rd mile, I finally decided that I needed to just ignore my watch entirely, and try to feel out the race pace by myself. Kind of a bummer (why did I buy this watch in the first place??) but whatever. It did seem to fix itself by the last mile, but by then I had pretty much figured out the right speed on my own. I ended the run at 9:34 average pace (confirmed that on Nike + as well), so I did well...I just wish I didn't have such a distraction from my Garmin for the first half! No more Virtual Pacer for me, that's for sure.
Sunday: 9 mile long run. An awesome long run this week! I got up early to down some peanut butter toast (fuel of champions) before I left. Plus, I needed time to gear up. 9 miles is when I start taking my Nathan hydration pack with me on runs, because 1) I feel like I need more water at that point, and 2) 9 milers are when I start to use mid-run nutrition, which has to be chased with a lot of water.
I ran my September half with the hydration pack on, and decided afterwards that hydration pack + armband for iPhone made me feel too unwieldy. So today I decided to try just putting the iPhone in the back pocket of the pack. This was okay, except for the fact that it meant I had to start Nike + on my phone well before I started running (because I then needed to actually get the pack on my back). No biggie I guess, because I also had the Garmin for accurate tracking. But could be a pain on race day.
Anyway, run started out great. Had to stop for a bathroom break at 3.7 miles (the Tim Horton's in town is starting to just expect me there on Sunday mornings). Then, moment of truth: tried my caffeinated Honey Stinger gel at 4.6 miles. Got it down no problem (I love no-chew nutrition), chased it with a boatload of water. Waited nervously for the after-effects.
And thankfully: there weren't any! Around 6.2 miles I got a very small stomach cramp that had me feeling like OH NO, HERE WE GO, but it went away and was never heard from again. I really attribute this to me taking in a LOT more water after I ate than I did last year, so yay for that.
I finished the run at a good pace (10:06 overall) and my fastest mile was #7, which made me happy. The Honey Stinger definitely kept me in the game. Plus, I got home just in time for Small Fry to run at me, grab my face, and scream, "DADDY MADE M&M PANCAKES!!!!" So it was a great morning for all.
|He was really stoked.|
How was your running week, friends?
What's your favorite mid-run nutrition option? What do you like the least?
Where the heck do you stow your iPhone during runs/races?? Especially those of you taking photos along the route. I have no idea how I would ever be able to do that with my armband...