Sunday, June 27, 2010

How LSD affects your running

No, this isn't a blog about the use of Lysergic acid diethylamide while running. LSD is a running acronym for Long, Slow Distance. There is a school of thought in running circles that says Long, Slow running makes a Long, Slow Runner. They of course mean, that if you spent all of your time running slow (because of preparing for Half-Marathon to Ultra Marathon races), your body will become accustomed to the mechanics and stride of that type of running. This leads to losing speed and any type of faster pacing that would give you the ability to finish the race with a quicker time.

I don't buy that argument as an absolute truth, but there are some elements of truth in it. It is hard to run a quick 5K when your training consists of mostly long runs. But the main reason for long runs is not for speed, it's for endurance.

After finishing Grandma's, I've been looking back over my past finishes at Marathons and making a connection between the pace of my long runs and the pacing of my overall marathon time.

As a general rule I've noticed that my average pace that I can run in the Marathon is no faster than one minute per mile for my average pace in my long runs. In my fastest Marathon, I ran my average pace that I ran in my long run for 16 miles, and then a minute faster for the last 10 miles.

Hal Higdon has a fundamental that says "If you want to run fast, you need to run fast." This pertains to the 5K as much as the marathon. If you want to run a planned predicted pace in the marathon, you have to practice it by running within 1 minute of that pace in your long runs.

I know this bucks a lot of the running guides out there that say you should run your long runs at planned predicted pace (PPP) plus two minutes per mile. But from running 20 plus marathons, I can say this isn't fast enough. That said, the PPP plus two minutes is great for building up endurance to run that distance, but not that pace.

So as you start your plans for fall marathons, take note. The LSD will affect your marathon if they are not done at a speed within one minute of your PPP.


Friday, June 25, 2010

How much to eat before running?

My son texted me after completing a run and asked me what are the causes of feeling nausea when completing a run? While this is a loaded question (could be heat, running too soon after an illness, or trying to run off a hang-over) we quickly figured out that he had eaten very close to taking off for his run on a hot day.

But this begs a question that we don't see too much written on in running magazines, blogs, and training. How much, when and what kind of food, should one eat before running? For those just getting into running, this is an important question to address when planning a morning, afternoon, or evening run. This is also a question that many experienced runners wonder about when they have a bad performance in a race and they are wondering if when, how much and what they ate affected their performance.

For Marathoner runners this is probably a more important answer than someone running a 5K. But that is because if a Marathoner makes a mistake on food intake, that is a mistake that will either cause those minutes, not seconds in a race or have them drop out altogether.

The best rule of thumb that I've seen is Weight times Wait = Runner's Fate. In other words, you multiple the runners' weight (in lbs.) times the length of time he/she will be running to determine the total calories that can be consumed before a run. So for a 150 lb. runner that is eating 2 hours before a run/race, he/she would consume 300 calories. If their race is in one hour, no more than 150 calories. This works for the 100 lb runner as well as the 250 lb runner.

This has worked for me for years and I've never tossed cookies yet. That's not to say I haven't run a 5K that I almost lost it, but it was from effort, not food, that caused the feeling.

What should you eat? Well, it should be mostly, if not all, carbohydrate. I'm on this 4:1 ratio kick, which has me eating 4 times the grams of carbohydrate for every 1 gram of protein. I firmly believe that fat does nothing for you in preparing for a run or a race. I know, I know, you need to burn fat in a long endurance run or race, but the human body has more than enough fat to supply that need. Carbohydrate is what activates the fat burning machine.

Should it be solid or liquid? Liquid gets absorbed quicker, but if I'm eating 2 hours before a run, my choice is a quickly digestible carbohydrate, like a PowerBar, Clif Bar, Banana, Bagel, etc. Anytime less, than I would go with liquid (Accelerade, Gatorade, Energy Drink) or a soft food, like a Banana.

Remember this, food can hurt your performance when eating too much or too soon, to run/race time. If you haven't practiced this in your weekly runs, eating too many calories too close to your race can affect it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Getting over a Bad Race

Alright, I am currently licking my wounds from running Grandma's Marathon at about an hour more than what the Prediction Charts had me at. I've had a great past six months of training and for what? Run a 5:10 when I should've had a 4:10.

Have you ever these thoughts? You train for an extended period for the planned race and fall well short of it?

I can give you my thoughts on why I failed. But before I get there, let me tell you how I succeeded.

I succeeded in the fact that I ran for the past six months while many of my colleagues didn't. I succeeded in losing 18 pounds in the past 24 weeks. I achieved a 2:00 Half Marathon that I haven't accomplished in three years. I accomplished a sub 25:00 5K that I hadn't accomplished in 3 years. I ran a personal best 53 total miles in an 8 day stretch, something I've never done in almost 30 years of running.

But I still came up short in the Marathon.

The Marathon is not your typical race. You can be in what you believe you best condition is, and a 5 degree temperature change can put all that training at risk. I'm not making excuses, but the Marathon has been for me, and many others, a crap shoot at best.

The point I'm making is that running and/or training for a race has its own internal 'Ying-Yang' balance. Yes, I had all of those positives during my training along with a bad Marathon. But all of those positives could have, I not saying for sure, but could have, led to my bad Marathon. 53 miles 3 weeks before the Marathon could've been a bad choice. Races the two weekends before the Marathon could've set me up for being tired on race day. But the key message that it taught me is that a one day race doesn't mean the past six months were all a waste. Sure, I was disappointed, but when I stepped back and thought about the successes so far this season, I wouldn't have traded a 4:10 Marathon for all of the mini-successes that I experienced.

In coming blogs, I will share some thoughts that I have, and things I've learned on what I believe makes a successful Marathon run. I've tried enough programs to know what works and what doesn't. I hope you will learn from all of my past mistakes. And also, for the successes.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mea Culpa

I was sharing with a co-worker that I've been so busy lately that I feel guilty about not updating the blog. She pointed out that I need to find a way to blog while I'm running. Her reasoning is that I always seem to find time to run, I just need to find time to blog (maybe right after she suggested).

Now that I have Grandma's Marathon behind me, I have a ton to share. Expect an update tomorrow morning as I gather all my thoughts and updates. Thanks for your patience and understanding.