Back when I did the couch to 5 k, training was all about just training myself to run further. I kind of figured that would be the case for the half marathon, but it’s interesting that it turns into so much more. It’s also about figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
As we get into the longer distances on training runs now, things like nutrition and hydration become more and more important. You can do a 5K without being all that well hydrated, and you really don’t have to worry as much about getting enough carbs in before the run, it’s a short enough run you can make up the difference. But now that I’m at 7 miles last week, 8 miles tomorrow for long runs, it’s different.
It’s goofy things that make a difference in the long run, and that’s part of the value of these long runs is trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Last week I was carrying one of those individual drink mix things of a sports drink, so at the right time decide to get it out, open it up, pour it into my water bottle. Easy as can be, right?
You know, I really liked that white running shirt. And then that one moment comes along and now it looks like I’ve been shot. Powder drink mix and running aren’t a great mix. And I’ve always liked that stuff before but in the middle of that run it was like it just tasted too sweet or something. That’s the point of training I guess, figure that stuff out now. So this week I picked up some of those Nuun tablets that you drop into your water bottle, tried one on Thursday’s run and it seemed to work so much better.
I have a flip belt for carrying things. They are great, but another thing I’m learning in training is, the same thing that makes them great for carrying things like your keys or your wallet makes them really sucky when it comes to carrying things you want to access during the race, like a bottle of Nuun tablets. Yeah, try pulling one of those out of your fit belt while running and not tripping yourself up or looking awful in the process. One of the nice surprises in training is that those cheap $10 running shorts from Walmart with the big pockets works really nicely for that kind of thing.
But another thing you learn from training: Losing weight and carrying stuff in your running shorts is not always a great combination. The weight of those few items and gravity and running… I’m thinking running while holding on to the waistband of your shorts is not the most efficient form one could use.
I’m figuring out some things about eating on the run. Peanut butter and jelly seems to work okay. I tried just peanut butter packets last week, that doesn’t work so well. M&M peanut candy? Not so good either. Just too chunky. Tomorrow I’m trying out one of those power bar fruit tubes.
The other thing about the training is, you start figuring out when you get into distances how important the nutrition and hydration really are. Last week I have to think part of my struggle finishing up goes back to not eating quite leading up to the run. Yesterday I cut short my run because my muscles around my left knee started cramping up and I’m thinking duh, not drinking nearly enough through the last couple of days.
And tomorrow, I try something new. Yes, hydration, nutrition, conditioning and all that are important. There’s also…. style! (As if me and style ever fit in the same sentence) I’m trying out the bandana look. Okay, it’s not a style thing for me but the practicality. So far a headband has been so much better for me like for keeping sweat out of my eyes (and let me tell you, those things are just gross after a run). I’ve tried running caps. Not sure why, they just don’t work for me. Last week, running out in the open with it getting warmer through the morning, I’m realizing that I need better coverage though than a headband. So, gonna give the bandana a try. So we’ll see how it goes.
And the cool thing about tomorrow? I added up all my training runs, tomorrow should put me just over 100 miles since starting this training 9 weeks ago. I know, some of you could probably do 100 in a week. Then there are those who do things like the Leadville 100, which is pretty amazing. But for a guy like me who once figured that my running days were long gone, 100 miles in this short a time is pretty exciting.
I’ll let you know how the bandana thing works.