Saturday, May 28, 2011
Now that we are fully into marathon season many new runners are looking to make sure they are properly fueled and experienced runners are trying to fine tune their hydration and fueling for their races.
Carb Loading has been associated with endurance sports for quite some time now and most people feel that it is an essential part of getting ready for that big race. Though it is important to maximize your carbohydrate reserves most people actually go about it the wrong way. The idea behind carb loading is to maximize the readily available carbohydrate stores in your muscles and liver. Most people can store about 2000 calories within their muscles and liver, which equals out to be about 19-21 miles. Once you run out of these readily available carbs your body will switch to burning body fat, which is a much less efficient fuel source. The process of the body switching from readily available carbs to body fat can generally be felt by the runner and is often not a pleasant experience. For me it is a sudden feeling of a loss of fuel, almost like I have not eaten anything is days, this is often referred to as "Hitting the Wall."
Runner and other endurance athletes want to maximize these stores in order to avoid hitting the wall as much as possible. In order to do this many runners just assume that you should just eat a lot of carbs leading up to the race. This is actually not what you really want to do, yes you will get more carbs and hopefully max your stores to a degree you might also gain some weight due to an increased amount of carbs and decreased exercise due to tapering.
You want to decrease your carb intake in order to condition your body to retain as many carbs as possible. For example if your race is on Saturday, the Sunday before the race you would want to eat about 60% less carbs than normal, then 50% on Monday, 40% Tuesday 30%, Wednesday 20% Thursday 10% Friday equal or more than you normal carb intake. When you are loading up on carbs remember that is it not just a lot of pasta, you need to also top off the carbohydrate stores that are in your liver. These are more glucose stores, so I will often have some fruit, which has more glucose than just pasta or potatoes. Remember to be careful when increasing any carb intake because many carbs like oatmeal, wholewheat pasta and grains have a lot of fiber in them and this can cause stomach issues and more trips to the bathroom than you may want...not something you want to worry about when running.
There is another easier way to maximize your carbs before a race. You can eat a normal diet throughout your taper week and simply get up the morning before your race a do several (5-10) 100m sprints or striders then eat a high carb diet the rest of the day. This will have the same effect of depriving your body of carb over a week. I have not tried this method before so I cannot really say if it works or not but it has been proven to have a similar effect. Now next time when you getting ready for that next race be sure your carb loading the right way.
Monday, May 23, 2011
This year was another great time at the Fargo Marathon race and weekend. This was the 3 year that I have run an event at the Fargo marathon and it has always been a great race and fun weekend. I signed up for the full marathon, but was not too set on running too fast of a time simply because I had not been doing really any speed or tempo work leading up to the race due to my ultra training.
The weather report said 70% chance of rain and temps in the low 60's so as long as it didn't pour on us I'd be happy. It turns out that the weather was not too bad, it didn't end up raining at all and the temps slowly climbed to around 70. It was a bit hot out and sort of muggy but overall not too bad. The full marathon was set to start at 7:30am and we arrived at 6:45am to the Fargo Dome to get ready. Three other friends were running the half marathon as well and a few friends doing the full. One of the great things about the Fargo marathon is that despite it's rapid growth in numbers having the start and finish at the Fargo Dome allows the runners to utilize all of the facilities there. This mean plenty of bathrooms, which is such a great thing for those of you who have not had to wait 30 mins in line at the port-a-potties.
I figured I could run a sub 3 hour marathon, so I was targeting a time of 2hrs 50mins to 3hr. This is 6min 52 sec to a 6 min 29 sec mile minute pace. At 7:30am we all toed the line and got ready to go, a few of my friends from the run club and high school were at the start cheering me and other runners we knew. Another great thing about the Fargo marathon is that I have a lot of friends and family from that area so there is a lot of great fan support and fellow runners. The horn blew and we were off, the first mile at Fargo always seems fast and I usually run in too fast and this year was not different. I ran a 6:17 first mile, but I do like to get out and away from the pack right away. There is often a lot of congestion at the start of the race and I'd rather not get caught up in it.
The first few miles felt great and I was averaging about a 6:25-6:30 pace which was faster than I planned, but I felt good and was running with a few other runners that were targeting a 2:50 time so I wanted to try and stick with them as long as I could. The first half I did try and hold back a little bit because I was feeling good but didn't want to burn myself out in the first half. Around the the 14-15 mile mark I past the few runners that were targeting the 2:50 time at a water stop and never saw them again. One advantage on them that I had was that I was much faster through the aid stations than they were. Having done a number of race now I have had plenty of practice snatching those little paper cups and getting not slowing down while trying to drink and run. I cross the half way point at 1 hour 24 mins so a minute ahead of my goal of a 2:50 time and I was still feeling pretty good.
Now around mile 16-17 the course looped back and all of the half marathoners were running on the same course as the marathoners. This is my one complaint about the race, there are simply too many runners to try and weave through if you are running in the first 1/4 of the marathon pack. This means you really have to dodge a lot of slower runners as well as watch out for runners who are out doing a bit more fanfare. I had to stop and jump out of the way of slower runners and people cheering and high fiving runners at least three times. Other than this the race is very well organized and all involved do a great job.
The last 10 miles I was starting to feel that my legs were straining a bit and my right shin actually started to ache a little bit, but overall still felt good. I decided to start pushing a bit to see what I could do, it wasn't much of a push but as we were weaving through the half marathoners I lost the small pack of runners that was right behind me and caught one of the runners ahead of me. As we made the turn towards the dome and the home stretch I got a wave of energy and decided to lay it on the line. With a bit over a mile left I decided to kick it in and see what I could do, the crowds of people near the dome helped a lot as well as having a separate lane for marathoners. Running through the parking lot of the dome there was plenty of crowd support and I was feeling great, I even was waving my arms to get the crowd even more pumped up which only fueled me to go faster.
Down the home stretch and into the Fargo Dome for one of the best marathon finishes that I've down. Every runner, no matter what race finished in the Dome with a massive screaming crowd and your image on the big screen. I think I was running about a 5 min pace the last few yards and I was pumped. I crossed with a time of 2:49:26 only about 4 minute off of my personal best, and 17th place overall. All in all I had a better race than I thought and had a great time after the race celebrating with friends and family. Yep I'll be back next year.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
It seems that once or maybe twice while training for a race there will be a run that just feels great. Basketball players refer to it as being in the zone and other talk about being the flow or flow state. In more general terms means to be in a mental state of focus and positive energy.
Tonight I was feeling it and was definitely in some sort of flow. I think that it is often more difficult for distance runners to get into the flow state because the workouts you do are generally very calculated and precise. "Runner this distance at this pace and at this heart rate." At least this was the case for me last year when I was much more focused on turning out a good marathon time. This year with more of a focus on running trail races and ultras my training schedule is a lot more flexible. Tonight I decided to head out on a tempo run and wanted to average 6:15 minute mile pace for about 8 miles. I think I did that and really felt great the whole time. There were times when I really felt like my legs could not carry me fast enough. I never really felt winded and my legs felt fresh the whole time. I did have some tightness in my stomach but that could have just been the 2 donuts a eat before I went out for the run.
It was also fun to run at night. I don't really do it that much but the weather was gorgeous out for a change, high 50's with little wind. It seemed like the perfect temp outside and being that it was around 10pm there early wasn't anyone else out. I ran along the Mississippi River Blvd on the Minneapolis and St. Paul side and the have a lot of great street lights that line that biking and running paths. The nice part about them is that there are a lot of them so if you are really moving it feels like you're zooming past them. Like I said it doesn't happen too often and rarely happens during a race, but when you find that groove and get into that flow state you can really move. Here is the workout with heart rate and pace if you want to check it out.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
I have recently joined the Upper Midwest Trail Runner Association, which is an association of runners who prefer to run off road. The organization promotes and helps to encourage people to get out there and enter some of the great trail races throughout the Midwest. UMTR offers trail series which is basically a point system that tracks your results through various races. There is one that includes numerous shorter races such as 5ks, 10ks and 25ks and there is an ultra distance version that has 50ks trail races and longer and then there is the Gnarly Bandit Ultra race series.
This series includes the following races which some you have the option of a 100 miles or 100k. Now I did register for this series, but we will see how long I last. The year starts out in with three 100 miles races within the first 3 months and I also am going to try and do two other marathons within that time frame as well. The good news is that the runner with the most points at the end of the series gets $500 from Wilderness Athlete, so that's a bit of motivation. I'm actually more worried about if I can afford to even enter all of these races and pay for hotels and travel. 100 miles race registrations fees are normally $100-$200 and then there is all of the travel costs, so we'll see. This running thing just isn't as cheap as it used to be.
|Zumbro 100 Mile Endurance Run||Zumbro Falls, MN||04/08/2011|
|Kettle Moraine 100 Mile / 100K||Eagle, WI||06/04/2011|
|Black Hills 100 Mile / 100K||Sturgis, SD||06/25/2011|
|Superior Sawtooth 100 Mile||Lutsen, MN||09/09/2011|
|Wild Duluth 100K||Duluth, MN||10/15/2011|