27 Tough Miles

IMG_1181That 27-mile run was hard – a lot harder than I thought it would be.  I expected it to be really tough, but for some reason I wasn’t as mentally prepared for it as I thought I was.  Maybe it was just that kind of day.  I tried to run it super slow since I was just wanting to cover the distance regardless of time, but there were several occasions where I almost opted out of doing the whole 27 miles.  It took me a lot of effort to simply cover 18 miles that day.  I knew if I didn’t hang in there and finish it, I’d beat myself up forever over it.  I can’t stand the thought of committing to something and then giving up.  It’s just so bothersome for me.  The fact that it was gusty on and off didn’t help the situation much either.

There were definitely some major positives about this run other than covering the distance.  I found that I could actually run much longer on a lot less carbs than I had imagined possible.  I only consumed 1 GU gel, a couple handfuls of trail mix, and a liter of Gatorade.  Normally, I down a GU every 45 minutes on runs over an hour.  It is possible or even likely that my nutrition affected my run, but I really never felt low or out of energy.  It was more like I was just mentally not into it.  It’ll take some more experimenting with low-carb distance running to really see what the story is.  I plan to run 20 miles this weekend.  If I decide against doing a tempo run, I’ll run it low carb.

Any plans to run a 28 miler?  Nah, not yet!  I had almost no aches or pains the day of and after the run, but it took me 2 days to crawl out of a kind of mental fog and fatigue.  My body and mind were just tired.  Injury-wise, I felt tip-top, but I’m not ready to go through another couple days of recovery like I just did.  Not yet anyway.  And maybe changing up my fueling would have made a difference, though I had somewhat similar effects post my 26-mile run.  So the plan of the moment is to stick to 20-23 miles.  I think the 20-mile runs will be a sweet spot for building my endurance up more before attempting 27+ miles again.  I do plan to eventually work up to a 30-mile run…. but I’m definitely not ready yet.

Oh, yeah, that’s the other thing I learned, I’m not ready to go over 27 miles yet!

Carb Depletion and a Marathon – Yet Another Experiment

After a couple broken hours of sleep from getting up with my son throughout the night, the clock painfully insists that it’s 4 am and time to get up if I’m going to make that early morning run happen before the humidity kicks in.  We’ve had quite the mini heat wave for us north easterners.  As I indulge on a steamy bowl of chocolate oatmeal and a stout coffee, one thought occurs to me: six months.  Will I be able to do what it takes to train for a BQ at the Pensacola Marathon in November?  (Of course, actually going to Pensacola is contingent on my husband’s shift work schedule not changing by then.)  But do I really have what it takes?  What does it take?  Are dedication and passion for running enough in themselves?  It’s quite possible that it’s a long shot for me to expect to BQ in 6 months, but I still feel like I have to try.  I think it’s possible enough to try to make it happen.  If I don’t get it done in Pensacola, I’ll work towards the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2013.IMG_1184

It’s going to be hard, no doubt.  Especially with my schedule (or lack thereof) – a combination of extreme sleep deprivation, a husband who is a shift worker, and having the very demanding task of caring for a fully dependent child; I’ve got my hands pretty full when you throw marathon training into the mix!  I just have to make it happen.

This week I’m focusing on long runs and hoping to hit at least 60 miles by the end of the week.  I have been experimenting with doing long runs in a carb-depleted state in hopes that you can actually acclimate the body better for burning fat reserves as fuel.  When I first started doing this, I did notice a little sluggishness on my runs, and my muscles tended towards fatigue quicker, but I don’t seem to be experiencing any symptoms as of recently.  I’ve been doing these carb-depleted runs now for about a month.  Mind you, there’s absolutely no intention of restricting carbs on race day or even on some critical speedwork days, it’s just the idea that having the body adjusted to fueling up with fat will move the wall out that much further.  I have no idea how long or how much volume you have to achieve before any obvious benefits manifest themselves.  I just make sure I do one-two 5+ mile runs a week in a carb-depleted state.  I do not consume any carbs on these runs, only water.  For 3 days, I eat well under 100g of carbs while I pump out these runs.  I try to make sure I get a good long run in especially on the 3rd day when I know my glycogen stores are zapped from the previous 2 days of low-carb runs.  These runs are typically slower and focused more on running for a certain amount of time instead of mileage.

Time for a power nap before I hit the pavement!