The first part of this story was covered in my last post and can be read here.
In my last post I talked about the horrendous run I had two Saturdays ago. In that run I was baked past done by the sun, over depleted of all appropriate energy sources and dehydrated. It was basically my worst running experience. Once my body recuperated enough though my mind went to work piecing together a plan for my longer sixteen mile run I had planned for the following Saturday. For me the biggest reason for the long runs is to figure out everything that goes wrong and devise a plan or plans to resolve those issues. In this case the increase in temperature was the new factor.
During the winter I often drank just water, relying on electrolyte replacement maybe once every couple of hours and taking a gel about every forty five minutes. In the mild to cold temperatures this plan worked well, but the heat changed that. I realize now that the heat leads to slower pacing as its harder to control temperature and thus running in higher temperatures means longer running. So for my sixteen mile run I decided I would try a few things and see how they worked:
- One bottle of electrolyte drink and one bottle of water. Also I planned to keep some electrolyte tabs or powder on me to keep this mix going.
- More fuel more often. I decided to do a gel about every thirty minutes and to suck on gummy gels in-between. Simply put, fuel continuously. I know when I am good at this point of doing this so I would rely on that to guide me if I needed to take less.
- Pack a half way bag with extra gels, sunscreen, some almonds and a protein bar. I left this on the gate to my road and figured that at the ten mile mark I would swing by, apply more sunscreen and resupply my nutrition. This actually worked flawlessly and now I am thinking I should do this more often with my over thirteen mile runs.
- In my half way bag I had a pack of almonds and a protein bar, I consumed these for a quick meal to give me some extra energy.
Armed with a plan I headed out for my run, a bottle of electrolytes in hand and water in my fanny pack loaded with enough gels and gummies to get through ten miles. Initially the temperature was hot and sticky and I just enjoyed running, made easier by the proper amount of fuel I was consuming. When I go for long runs I like to not worry about time, instead focusing n taking pictures, watching hawks and falcons fly over head… just enjoying myself. This day turned out perfect and the nutrition strategy worked flawlessly.
At the half way mark I was feeling good as I got to my stash bag. I lathered up more sunscreen and grabbed enough gels for the next leg of my run. I was feeling fresh and not overly exhausted. I ate the nuts and protein bar, refilled my water, sticking to the water/electrolyte mix and I pushed on with my run. After thirteen miles the climbing became hard but I just pushed on. I ran into the hottest part of the day and found for the first time that day, after numerous miles, I was having a hard time staying hydrated, I was simply running through water faster than usual and I realized I would have little water left for the last couple of miles.
One thing running distance in the country teaches you is humility. Where I often run Its mostly farm land with some clusters of houses. I know where all the friendly water spouts are and the stretch I was on had none. Just as I was starting to panic I saw a house with some kids spraying each other with water from a hose. I noticed their mother was near by and so I brushed back my hat a bit, tried to wipe some of the dried salty sweat off my face and look civilized, not like a crazy person running in the middle of nowhere. I asked if they would mind filling my water bottles and they obliged. The mother even went and got a Capri Sun drink to offer me, I said no thank you as I knew the sugar would be too much. I was very grateful and I made sure to say my thanks and be civil. I was eager to get back to running, especially since I now had enough water in my bottles to finish.
After four hours and a brief lunch I finished my run with a total of just over sixteen miles. My legs were sore and tired as I am still working on getting comfortable at the twenty mile distance. Unlike the previous week I felt good, just tired. Of course I was read for the after long run crazy hunger to kick in and this time I could welcome and enjoy it because I finished the run achieving all the goals I set for myself… surviving a long run and feeling good in high temperatures. For me, running is about learning and adapting and figuring out what works and what does not work. Sometimes this involves good old research but often I find the large number of variables involved in running forces me to rely on good old fashioned trial and error. That is truly what makes this sport so much fun. Til next time.