Saturday, September 26, 2009

An Experiment of One: What's working and what's not?

George Sheehan use to always refer to the runner as an experiment of one. You have to experiment with different training strategies, techniques, shoes or whatever and find out what works for you. Be an experiment of one. The scientist in me gets with this philosophy and in doing so I find myself changes this and that, pushing limits and mixing it up. In the twenty five years I’ve been running I’m still finding what works and what doesn’t due in part to the fact that no matter how hard I fight it my body is not what it is twenty five years ago.

I went for a long run on Friday, which was yesterday. I normally don’t run long runs on Friday but the work load was fairly light and it actually afforded me the time that I could cut out early and get in some miles before the weekend. Not to mention our weekend was going to be pretty busy so it worked out better if I ran now. My goal was to do 26 miles and I ended up doing 25.11 miles. It was close enough and I was pretty much done. As I dragged my sorry ass thru the 25 miles I took some mental notes.

1) Specificity of Training – although roads are harder on the joints than trails. Trails use a whole new set of leg muscles that road running does not. My long run had a 6 mile interlude of trails that just about killed me. My rhythm was all wrong and I actually didn’t enjoy it like I use to. This was my first trail run of the year. Last year I logged about 500 miles on the trails. This year 6! Analysis: Stick to the roads until the ultra.
2) Fuel Up- It could have been because I didn’t eat much all day and my run started at 1 pm. It could have been that I didn’t take enough food for the run but I was definitely hungry. The Garmin tells me I burned 2800 calories. I consumed 4 – Double Latte PowerBar Gels 110 calories each for a deficit of 2360 calories. Analysis: Eat more food. Real food not just gels. Experiment more. On my last ultra by about 30 miles all I had to that point was gels. I was craving real food to which my wife handed me a bagel. It gave me a real boost.
3) Legs felt stiff- It could have been dehydration or loss of electrolytes but I have never been a stretcher. I’ve never stretched pre-run or post-run and for my lack of efforts I probably have the tightest stride you have ever seen. Analysis: Stretch more, do yoga. Philosophy: The looser your muscles are at the start the more they have to tighten to that point of discomfort.
4) Electrolytes – the gels had 200 mg of Sodium and 20 mg of Potassium. I guess I should find out if that is a lot. Analysis: do a sweat test and figure out your electrolyte requirements.

I carried a Camelbak with approximately 70 oz of water. I never refilled it by I did use my standby water bottle for my Lipton Ice Tea mix. I’m not sure if it had electrolytes but I know that it had artificial sweetener which served me well.

I’m slowly getting it. I think for my next long run I’m going to make a checklist something like this:

Electrolyte mix
Water bottle
Peanut butter and jam sandwich (why not?)
Gels 4
Water in the Camelbak approx. 70 oz.

I’m getting to the point where I have to figure out how much water to carry on my first leg of the run. I don’t want to carry too much and I don’t want to carry too little. Experiment!

Garmin Connect - Activity Details for Reservoir Trail Run

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