All of a sudden I’m taking a week or more between blog posts. I blame it on… on…. well, lotsa things. Training, school, life, work, pick any of the above and each by itself could be a pretty appropriate excuse, ummm, I mean, reason. So my last post was ‘slowing down to speed up’ but that really was meant to talk about my training. Though really, where I’ve slowed down is my blogging.
And this is the point where I feel inclined to promise that will improve. But then I know my history, and I know myself, and I’ve learned that’s not a good promise to make.
So anyway, I’ve been talking about running and keeping my heart rate down. Wow… I just looked back, it was 10 days ago that I posted about that. Let me just say… do you know how excruciating it is to run slow enough to keep my heart rate down? Especially at first, I felt like I was doing slow motion. I guess I mentioned that before. I’ve been shooting for 130 for my heart rate, and keeping about 135 as my ‘definitely do not go over’ level. The first tme out I was at 18:05 for my first mile. Yesterday I did 15:15 for my first mile. So that’s pretty good, knocking nearly 3 minutes off the time. I’m interested in seeing how that improves.
I think what it comes down to is finding a better way to manage my energy. The thing that happens with sugary gels and sports drinks and gu’s is that your blood sugar spikes and crashes, and I remember feeling that nasty cycle in my longest runs. There’s a lot of data starting to grow out there that points to being able to rely on fat instead of carbs during those long runs, and you do that through your training pace and diet. As far as diet, the carbs you eat need to be natural – basically what you get from fruits and vegetables and none of the processed stuff, as the processed stuff – sugar, flour, etc – is what really spikes your blood sugar. So between staying low glycemic and training at an aerobic pace, you shift more to fat as the primary source.
I know that’s not the conventional approach. There are those who are going to argue it’s not the right approach. There are very strong opinions both ways. All I can do is report on how it is working for me.
So I can report this much: Yesterday I did a 6 mile run. Prior to the run, I had a packet of Generation UCan powder. I ran the first 4 miles at about a 130-135 heart rate. The last 2 miles I opened up a bit and actually had my last 2 miles faster than any of the first 4 miles. If you include warmup and cool down, I was pretty close to 2 hours. My energy level was steady all the way through, and I felt just as good those last 2 miles as I did any of the others. I didn’t feel hungry, didn’t feel any drops in energy, none of that, and I didn’t have anything except water during the run.
All I can do right now is compare it to how I felt on similar runs last year. The peaks and valleys in my energy were very noticable, especially during the half marathon. Granted, I’m not back up to half marathon distances, and maybe I’m in better condition at the 6 mile mark than I was last time, so right now I can’t say it’s all conclusive. I also know that when you get to more than an hour and a half or so, there is still some replenishing that needs to happen. The real test is how will I feel around half marathon time?
Maybe the biggest difference that I’ve noticed though? Last year at the end of my six mile run, I was just happy to still be somewhat jogging. Yesterday was the first time I’ve gone this long in September – I sprinted the last lap on the indoor track (17 laps per mile) and it really felt pretty easy to do. Again, I don’t know if it’s that the training is working, or if it’s that I’m more fit than I was at this point last time around. Maybe it’s a bit of both. But if it keeps going this well, that’s really encouraging when I think about doing the half and eventually the full marathon.