Saturday, 27 August 2011

24...The Long Run

I have not completed any specific Marathon training programme, but I am aware of what they contain and knew the time had come to complete my longest run ahead of race day. With 4 weeks to go my plan was to run 22 miles on a fairly undulating course, which would reflect some similar elevation to my race. I was intending to run this alone, but by the weekend it was all change. In the end I decided to run with friend and running partner Brian. He planned to run 24 miles; our route of 12 miles along the Basingstoke Canal to work, get there and then turn around and head back, One for all, and all for one!

Although this was longer than I planned, the canal is very flat apart from about 15 locks that on the way back give you some short hills to go up. Brian's thinking was this would be more of a confidence booster in completing the distance rather than struggling on a hilly run.

It was also a chance to fine tune my nutrition. Like my previous long run I stuck with my bite size flapjacks, jelly beans and Powerade sports drink. My Camelbak can take 1.5 litres of fluid, so I put 2 x 500ml bottles into the bladder, It didn't quite last the run, but come race day will be plenty of water stops.

It was around mile 18, I noticed the tiredness, and this was more mental than anything else. But I kicked in and broke down the final 10K in my head in the typical way all of us runners do. " If I can just get to the BP garage.....train station.....that tree!".

So I made it and Brian had been right, this has boosted the confidence. The short walk home was more of a struggle than the last 4 miles had been running, but I was lifted when my two son's came past me, the eldest going for a run and his brother following on his bike. If I had inspired, then job done!

Just under a week later from this run, and as I conclude this post, I have been out for a couple of runs. I went for a 4.5 mile run 2 days after the long run. The legs were heavy but by the end of the run had loosened, so I think this was worthwhile. Yesterday I ran into work on a 12 mile run, again I took this easy.

That now leaves 3 weeks until race day. I have a 20 mile race next Sunday which will leave 2 weeks to taper. I have not planned what to do in them couple of weeks and have never tapered before, so any thoughts let me know.

Sunday, 7 August 2011


An English football manager once described the ability to comeback as 'Bouncebackability'. This was exactly what I needed to do today following a blow out on my last long run a couple of weeks ago.

I didn't put too much pressure on myself but deep down I knew this was a big week of running for me. After taking a weeks rest, I got back into it this last week. I had a week off work so as well as fitting around the family I also managed to get some decent runs in. These consisted of medium runs of 6 and 9 miles, a tempo run of 4.5 miles and today's 17 miles, totalling a very nice 37 mile week.

The real satisfaction though came from today's run. Before I set off I was far more confident than I had been for two reasons: 1) I was really up for this run, and 2) I was a lot more confident with my fuelling today.

Today's Fuel
I had my Camelbak filled with a Powerade sports drink which I topped up with a little water. I also tried the Lucozade Jelly Beans which tasted no different to the regular beans you can buy, just twice the price! I also packed some flapjack pieces. I individually wrapped these in cling film and nicknamed these my 'Scooby snacks'. My thinking was I would have a flapjack and a few beans along with a swig of drink every 3 miles. This seem to work really well although somewhere along the way I must have dropped a flapjack as I was one short come mile 15! I also like the fact of having some real food with me and I had no problem with stomaching these.

As well as getting the fueling right, I think the course helped give me a lift as well. It was a similar route to what I have done a few times before but to give it a fresh feel I run through a couple of typical quaint English villages set in the heart of the Surrey hills.



The villages of Puttenham and Seale were quiet and still on this sleepy Sunday morning and were the perfect back drop for the run. The course in parts was quite undulating and the best part was running up 'Thundery Hill' I thought this was just a great name for a road and would sound brilliant to have as an address.

OK so this was still 9 miles short of Marathon distance but I could have quite easily gone on today. So with 40 days to go till my race it was good timing to show some 'Bouncebackability'. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Thank You!

Following my bad run last week, I've had a great response from people offering advice that I thought I'd share as it may help others. I haven't put names but you know who you all are, from the Blog, Twitter and Dailymile. A massive Thank you. I've taken everything on board and putting it all into practise.

Sorry to hear about your dead stop. Maybe a couple of lower-mileage weeks would help? I
can't get my head around gels either - pricey, sticky & yukky! surprising how many of the ultrarunning bods on twitter use jelly babies or haribo instead... 3 jelly babies=1 gel, by all accounts. certainly taste nicer & a fraction of the cost.

Most of those gels just don't agree with people's stomach's, that carnitine theory of the gels will only work in the long term, i cant see it getting to your muscles fast enough to switch your major carbon source to fat. I'm all about jelly babies, they taste good, there cheap and if you suck them you will absorb the sugar straight away. Sorry maybe don't be so harsh on yourself, you got 8 weeks to your Marathon, that means you got 4 weeks to get to 20 so maybe slow down take your time. It may hopefully just be a mental thing.

I've tried jelly sweets but they are harder to digest (more solid) and therefore upset my stomach on a run. I don't go for sweet food at all anyway. I'm back to gels and I don't notice a "kick" from them, but my energy levels stay OK, which is the goal. Note that you have to be taking 500-600ml of water per hour with the gels too. Have you tried Endurolytes? I take one every 30mins along with gels.
Good luck!

My preference is for a mix of caffeinated gels (powerbar) and jelly beans, I also fill my camel back with electrolyte sports drink and water half and half.
Are you making sure you're 100% hydrated before your long runs and picking your evening meal the night before carefully? All these things can have considerable effect, especially the hydration. If I have a load of booze on Friday night, I suffer from not being totally hydrated by the time Sunday morning and the long run comes along.

And don't forget getting enough sleep: a brief period of sleep deprivation has shown not to impact performance significantly, but a prolonged period of sleep deprivation does. If your mileage increases, so should your time asleep.

I'm no expert but previous distances looks OK. I have lots of calories the night before and usually just water on the run.

If I run for 3 hours I take about 600/800 cals, you sure your not just bonking because of lack of cals.

Take another rest & re-focus. Look at your nutrition, maybe that's why you bombed?

Sorry to hear Ian :( I'm not nearly as experienced as you at running so I can't offer any advice about your schedule. But looks like you have a good mix of workouts going on so maybe your body saying 'i need a little break'? Have you tried Power Bars before - they give about 39g of carbs, and are more filling than cereal bars/gels. I haven't had one for a few years, but used to eat them a lot during running or squash back in the day.

Hi Ian. Just spotted your posting. IMHO, you are possibly pushing your body too much, too fast. Maybe you should run flat terrain for your long runs and separate out your hills/speed work to shorter weekday sessions. Also, if you sweat a lot, you need to replace lost salt/electrolytes so SiS Go in your water is a good idea. Good luck and keep up the good work.

You have a lot of long runs in there Ian, I think you can do a marathon for sure. You might try salt tablets, and Magnesium and Potassium pills at key points during your long runs. The electrolytes are important, so if the GU isn't working for you switch off to the beans! And Fig Newtons and Smarties (M&Ms here) and Swedish Fish!

Don't sweat it mate, one bad run doesn't a bad runner make or change any of the hard work and miles you have already banked. Have a rest the let the body recover and you'll come back stronger than before, but hopefully not so strong that you leave me trailing in your wake. :)