Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Dublin marathon 2014

Well you would have thought that on the 12th attempt, I'd know how to race this distance. This was my 6th time running the marathon distance or further this year and this was the one I was hoping to peak for.

I had done my 'Carb Loading' well, click here!

During the weeks leading up to the race I was feeling quite good. I was managing to stay completely injury free, I was running quite well and I was hitting all my training sessions. I had however, ran a lot more distance this year and I hadn't raced all that much but I was feeling confident that a PB (sub 3:14:59) was a very realistic goal.

As the race began I set off with the 3:10 pacers. We ran in a bunch of about 100 cramped  behind three setters. I felt good. 
Slightly after the half way point I need to pee and I set off at an elevated pace on a downhill section. The plan was to gain 45-60 seconds which would be enough time to empty the bladder. It all worked out very well and I fell back in and felt comfortable. 
A couple of kilometers later I noticed my energy had plummeted, I knew instantly that I couldn't hold this pace for the remainder of the race. I decided to ease off but keep running and was still confident I'd run a PB. 

As the 3:10 pacers carried on up the road I felt relieved I'd let them go. I chomped down a Nakd bar and emptied a bottle of water handed to me by some eager volunteer. My energy was low and I noticed that with every step my left foot was feeling more and more uncomfortable. It felt like I had a blister between my toes and around my mid foot. I kept going. I started eating anything that was offered to me, jelly beans, bananas and I even downed a half bottle of lucozade sport! What was I doing?

Just keep running and you'll get a PB!

Easier said than done, I started walking just after the 20mile mark. I'd walk about 4-5 steps before realising I was throwing away a chance to run a PB. I'd start running again but my foot was in agony. Just keep running, slow down the strides but just keep going! 
I ran as much as I could and found energy knowing my wife, my dad and my two kids would be around 23-24mile mark. It was almost 25miles when I saw them and I got a great energy surge. I turned and saw the 3:20 pacers were closing on me. I put the hammer down and ran all out, my left foot was in excruciating pain but it felt good now. I kept running, determined not to get caught. The last mile seemed to go on forever. I finished!

My official time was 3:18:52, I was delighted to be finished. I didn't care about not achieving a PB, I had prepared and I was very close but my foot hurt too much to go any harder than I had. Some days something's just don't work out. I'll live to fight another day and not for the first time in my life, I feel I have unfinished business on the streets of Dublin marathon. 

Run far, run fast but most of all RunSensible! 


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Carb loading!

When should I start carb loading?

Carb loading should really start about one week before the race. It will start initially through default. You will be in taper period getting ready for the race which means running far less miles than the previous weeks. However, you'll notice that although you are running far less you are still eating a lot of food. This is due to a physiological process taking place in your body. Your body is trying to replenish its muscle and liver glycogen stores, that's why you are eating so much. As soon as you start that taper period the carb loading process begins,,, you might find that you are craving carbohydrate foods!

Over the previous couple of weeks during high mileage periods you had depleted the glycogen stores in your muscles. This is why your long 20-22 mile runs were quite a bit slower than your race pace goal. You would have been performing on below par glycogen levels and doing pretty good. Over these coming days that store should be replenished to maximum and this will give you extra energy and endurance come race day. 

When should I actively start eating more carbs?

Four days before the race you should start the carb loading process proper. This means increasing your carbohydrate intake day on day for the following three days. On the final day of carb loading, which is 2 days before the race you should be eating about 80% of all you calories from carbohydrate food. 

There are a lot of long distance runners who like myself get about 80% of calories from carbs on a daily basis throughout the whole year. If you fall in to that category, you should really try and increase the super high or complex carbohydrates on the third and second last day before the race. 
This type of diet is know as a high carb, low fat and low protein diet. It's the only reliable way to maintain a constant weight, while staying injury free and running many miles. 

What are the high complex carb foods?

Root vegetables

When I consume these foods it is in the absence of saturated animal fat, this allows me to digest them pretty quickly and I don't get any bloating of gastrointestinal cramps. 

What will happen if I don't carb load?

You will either Hit the Wall (read here) or you'll Bonk (read here)

When do I stop?

On the day before the race you should rise and consume a high carbohydrate breakfast. This should really fill you up and the remainder of the day should be light eating. I like to practise the Japanese mantra 'leave the table 3/4 full' on this final day before the race.

On this final day you should pee quite a bit, it should be clear and your joints should feel less stiff. You should go for a very easy 5-6km run to loosen the body out and get a good night sleep.

Are all carb foods good?

Not all 'carbs' are good during a carb loading period. It doesn't take me to tell you that the super refined high sugar low nutrient dense foods are not going to do you any favours during these final days. You've probably trained really hard and made a lot of sacrifices and alienated you family, friends and colleagues. If so don't fall at the last hurdle. Eat well and be mindful about what you eat. Ask yourself the questions, is this food going to help me run or inhibit my run?

Runners World magazine ran an article (here) on how to carb load. They suggest that any type of carbs are good, even the crappy refined sugary products that have virtually no nutrients other than refined white sugar and saturated artery wall clogging fat. I couldn't disagree with them more and I don't think they should be pedalling this to the masses. 
Here's why; they say that carbohydrate foods which contain fibre (fruit and vegetables) will give you gastrointestinal cramps and bloating. Fibre is an osmo-regulator in our gut. That means it draws water in and therefore keeps everything moving, which is what you want. A gut whose contents don't move, while sitting in a dry or arid environment will cause pain, discomfort and bloating. 
During a marathon your body will need and use thousands of vitamins, minerals, salts, enzymes and electrolytes, snacking on sweets or food alternatives will yield none of the essential nutrients you will want on race day. 

Is there anything else I should do?

Is is of primary importance that you increase your water intake over these few days. Carbohydrates are water soluble and require 4 units of water for every molecule of carbohydrate that is stored. You'll notice that your weight might increase by 1-2kg, don't worry. You might also notice that you joints feel a bit stiff and your muscles feel a bit sore. If that is the case the most likely reason is due to dehydration. Increase you water intake until your pee is clear.

Is that it?

No! One last thing.
The most important sleep is probably the sleep two nights before the race. Don't get stressed if you can not sleep the night before the race. So long as you slept well the night before you will be just fine.
Snacking on fruit over these few days will give you good energy, great nutrients and all fruits have a high water content.  

OK, Is that it?


Run far, run fast but most of all RunSensible!


Saturday, 4 October 2014

EOI Marathon Lusk!

Today I ran my 11th marathon distance race and my 5th so far this year. It was a good day! Having learned a valuable lesson in the Dublin half I decided to have a strict plan and to stick to it adherently. 

The plan

Run very conservatively, bearing in mind I had the Dublin marathon 2 weeks later. Finish strong, this is something I'd never done before in a marathon. And run a negative split, which means run the second half faster than the first half. 

How did it go? 

Very well, I managed to achieve all three aspects of the plan!

How did I do it?

I set my Garmin to only display pace per kilometre. The race was a four lap route and I had ran the same course 5 months earlier. I knew I could run a very comfortable sub 3:30 marathon so I set to posting slightly below 5mins per kilometre as a ran. 
I ran a very steady first 3 laps and really felt good beginning the fourth and final lap. I had identified areas where I could inject a little bit of extra pace and began posting quicker and quicker kilometres as the race grew longer. 
The last 5 kilometres were the fastest consecutive 5k I ran in the race and as I finished I knew I had ran sub 3:30. I sat and drank some water before checking my official time. I had ran 3hrs23mins without entering into the red zone or feeling any real pain. I was more than surprised with the result and was happy that, I had finally ran a full marathon without walking one single step, I had finished strong and I had ran a negative split. 

Now I need to rest and get ready to do it all again in 2 weeks on the streets of Dublin!

Run far, run fast but most of all RunSensible!