Friday, March 17, 2006

It's Not My Fault!

Blogger has been screwy for the past day or so, the post below is from last night. I apologize to anyone unable to reach the blog (all 4 of you).

Today's post should be titled "Payback Time", referring to my 22 mile death-march this morning. I guess a half-marathon Sunday, 6 miles of marathon pace Tuesday, a very hilly and difficult 16 miler Wednesday and 4 miles of marathon pace plus 2 miles of tempo yesterday had to be paid for eventually with a crash.

Nothing went well today. The gut was out of whack, and I had several nasty coughing fits. It just wasn't the "nice and controlled" long run I wanted. I brought the Garmin but didn't check it until the end, where I saw I ran my route at 7:08 pace. I'm fairly certain I slowed for the second half, especially on the uphill, but at least I grinded it out and got it done. I've decided to ditch the gels on these runs in an effort to get the body to learn to transition smoothly from burning carbohydrate to burning fat, which invariably starts to happen after running long enough. Duncan swore them off not too long ago, and Nobby and I have emailed back and forth about the topic. It was with his urging that I made my decision, and while I desperately could have used some glucose (especially at about 17 miles in), I really think it's worth trying to teach my body to deal with the depletion that invariably comes late in the marathon. This is not something I'd suggest for every runner, and I do carry one just in case. I've been taking 1-2 gels during these runs for the last 8 months, so it will take a little while for my body to adjust to not having the sugar.

This is a nice article from on teaching your body to burn fat by changing caloric intake before and during long runs. Interesting food for thought (sorry about the pun). I might have mentioned this one before, but I'm posting it again if I have. This is a nice article By Greg McMillan, who is on the board of Project Lydiard 21. He writes about fasting before the long run as well as during in an effort to make the body more efficient at burning fat and conserving glycogen. Again, this isn't for everyone, but someone like me who tends to run out of juice during the last 6 miles, it's worth reading about at least. He does make a special case for "progression runs", or marathon pace/race simulation runs, where he says to go ahead and fuel like you plan to during a race. At this point I still plan on taking on a gel or two in San Diego in June.

While the run today wasn't fun, I did muddle through and I know at some level I'm better for it. It has been a good week of training for me, and with a tough day ahead on Sunday I hope to take it easy this evening and tomorrow.

Training: 22 miles, 2:37:07, 7:08


Dirt Runner said...

I keep a gel with me on long trail run just in case. The current gel is now over a year old and I'm not too sure if I would eat it. I don't have any plans on getting rid of it either.

Duncan Larkin said...

Mike, first, nice run. Insane man. You are blowing all of us out the door. Keep it up. Second, be careful weaning yourself from GUs and then planning to use them in your race; they may make you sick/upset your stomach in the race. I rarely train with them (have taken shots before a long run), and found that when I magically used them in a race, they made me sick at the end. Train as you 'fight.'

kconnor said...

Hi Mike, I was considering just this topic last month - encouraging the body to use fats on long runs. My decision went the other way simply because I hate being sick, which, at this point, I think you do too. There's better research into this than I can find right now but the short story is when you become glycogen depleted such as in a marathon, your immune system is compromised for three hours.

Good luck as always. Love your blog. Glad I could contribute to the dialog.

Love2Run said...

Thanks for the inspiration and the articles. That's insane doing long runs with no fuel, just water? But it makes sense if you think about it. I always fuel with gatorade and only use gels on the 20+ runs but now you've got me thinking...

The progression runs are another thing that makes a ton of sense. Now to only convince my long run buddies to go along with the insane plan ;-)

Evan said...

Duncan's right. If you train without the gels, and then re-introduce them on race day, you may be trying to spell "GI trouble" and other euphemisms for crouching on the side of the road.

I think the way to do it is to forgo the gels on the long, slower runs and use them on time trials or long runs with lots of tempo run mixed in; anything where you're going to be doing more than about 6-8 miles at marathon pace or quicker. Using gels on the over-distance runs is also a good idea -- much quicker recovery.

Mike said...

Thanks for the comments. Kconnor's link is an interesting one, especially for someone like me who's been sick for two weeks! You all should check it out. Speaking of articles, I'm planning on taking the approach McMillan suggests in the linked article in the post. He advocates using gels (or whatever you plan on using during the race) on race-preparation long runs, in order to simulate pace and actual conditions. I'll plan on still taking a gel on my progression-type long runs or marathon pace long runs, so hopefully I'll stay used to them. I'm just not using them on the normal effort 22 milers. Point taken on the over-distance runs though Evan.

kconnor said...

From the marathonguide article you linked:

Once exercise has started, eating carbohydrates does not generate a substantive insulin response. If you are starting a long run lasting two hours or more on an empty stomach, you may want to eat a sports gel or bar after 20 to 30 minutes throughout the run. Otherwise you will be faced with the nausea and fatigue of low blood sugar and have a poor training session.
Personally, gotta go against the McMillan advice as too risky and just not fun.

Here's another article of interest by Owen Anderson on the fat burning topic that's somewhat related.