Saturday I did a 2 hour run, one hour out and one hour back at Bear Creek park near Denver. Beautiful day, great weather, beautiful park, beautiful run.
Until the one hour mark.
I always have a hard time figuring out the best way to do water/nutrition stops for these long runs. I’ve done it before where I have run around Washington Park in Denver which is a 2.5 mile loop, where I could stop by my car after each loop. And that works okay, but there are times you just want to do different.
I’ve talked before about shifting my approach to nutrition. This weekend turned into an unintended test as to how it was working. Putting it simply, I’ve focused on metabolic efficiency, which is a much nicer way of saying I decided to get away from carb loading and sugaring up during runs. The idea is that through diet and training, you shift your reliance away from burning carbs and more towards burning fat. By keeping your blood sugar steady you don’t go through the cycle of sugar highs and lows that I know I fought with on longer runs in the past.
Even still, you still need some nutrition during longer runs. I have found that Generation UCan has been a great fit for me – there is something about it where it doesn’t spike your blood sugar right away like a lot of energy sources. I’m still not a huge fan of the taste, though I can say the same about just about any energy product out there.
For this run, since I wasn’t sure if I’d have many chances to refill my water, I did my best ultra-runner imitation, carrying two hand held water bottles. I had my trusty packet of Gen. UCan in the pocket of my running shorts, which I would pour into one of my water bottles at the one hour mark. All set to go right?
That is, until I got to the one hour point and… my pocket was empty. Somewhere along the line, my packet must have fallen out. Here I am an hour out, at this point where I really should be fueling up, and in a place where I really was an hour away from any real source of nutrition.
If you happened to be anywhere near the Denver area and you heard a Homer Simpson type scream echoing through the foothills, now you know what it was.
Crap. Now what? Visions of me crashing and burning and having to crawl the last two miles flooded through my mind. Maybe I should just stop and walk now and not take any chances. Should I call my wife and have her on standby, you know, in case I don’t make it she’ll know where to come look for me? Maybe I should just pull out my flare gun now… crap, forgot to pack that one as well.
Are there buzzards in this park? Guess we’ll find out soon.
I know, not really rational thoughts. Maybe it happens because all the stuff you read is practically breathless in the way it talks about how critical it is to have nutrition on your runs. Maybe it’s because of how when training for my half last year, I could feel the crashes happening after awhile and I really did need that replenishment. But I gotta say, some of the stuff you read it’s like if you’re out running this long and have no nutrition, you may as well be preparing for a hospital visit.
I didn’t carb load the day or two before the run. I think the day before I ate about 30 carbs. My breakfast consisted of an omelette and bacon.
And that is all by plan. It’s what I’ve been doing a good part of the year. It’s all about being metabolically efficient. Eating in a way to train the body to burn fat, and running at a heart rate that encourages the same. So here was a bit of a test as to how I would do.
I decided then that as long as my heart rate stayed in the 140’s, I’d keep running. I was actually quite happy it was still in that range – I know in the past that getting past an hour or so it would start climbing as time went on – which is pretty normal. When my heart rate was creeping up to being regularly in the 150’s I finally decided to shut it down and only ended up walking the last mile. I actually felt like I could have kept running – but just didn’t want to take any chances. Or maybe that was me looking for an excuse to cut it short.
I felt good when it was all done. I didn’t feel about ready to collapse – I even bowled several games later Saturday with my daughter and didn’t feel like I needed crutches to accomplish that.
I don’t know if this is much ado about nothing. I mean yeah, it seems like the nutritional shift is working for me. I’m thrilled that I could do that and not feel like I was about to crash and burn. But it’s not like a high intensity kind of run, all of this may not be applicable to folk who run 8 minute miles or better. But that’s okay – I feel like I’ve got a handle on all this nutrition stuff finally. That’s exciting stuff.