Training: I’m Learning

The view from the top: the cloud-covered valley after I finished my hill repeats on Tuesday night.

I’ve been running in races since 2007, although in an admittedly half-assed sort of way until I joined Team in Training last Spring. But even after all of the time that I spent training, I remain amazed by how much I have left to learn.

This week’s lessons: pace and food.

Pace

Pace has always been my downfall. I’ve had three paces: walking, running and racing. It didn’t matter if I was supposed to be on a fast tempo run or a long slow distance (LSD) run, I’d still rush out at basically the same pace, which I’d do my best to maintain until I crashed. In races, adrenaline would carry me out of the gate faster, but I’d walk  the end of every run because I had nothing left in the tank. I can assure you, this is not the best method.

I’ve known about the Galloway method since last year. In short, you rely on run/walk intervals to keep your body fresh and help you to achieve better overall times than if you just plow through and crash at the end. And while there was part of it that made sense, there was that nagging voice in the back of my head that couldn’t quite convince me that spending any portion of my time going slower could actually result in a finish time that was faster, or even comparable.

When I started out too fast at my 4th of July 5k, I knew that only intervals would save me from an end-of-race crash. But not only did the intervals keep me from crashing, they also resulted in my best 5k finish of the year. Hmmm. Yesterday, when we started out on our LSD team run, I paired up with one of the newer runners. After a couple of minutes, her watch beeped. “I’m doing intervals,” she said. “You can go on without me.” Instead, I decided to stick with her and spend the next 70 minutes chatting and pacing ourselves based on the beeps.

And the most fascinating thing happened: at the end of 5.68 miles, I still felt fresh. Really fresh. As in could-have-gone-another-5-miles fresh. And I was completely blown away. Guess who’s a convert now?

Food

Whether I’m racing or heading out on an LSD run, one of the biggest considerations is food. Too much and my stomach cramps. Too little and I crash before my time. What’s a girl to do?

Through many months of unscientific study, I’ve come to the following formula:

  • 1.5 hours prior to run/race: banana, 500 mL water, 8 oz Peet’s iced tea (I’ve come to grips with the porta potty situation; this will be the subject of a separate post/rant)
  • At the start: vanilla bean GU — I’m hoping to be able to switch this with Honey Stinger gels soon, but I haven’t yet given the Stingers a test drive on a long run
  • Every 45 minutes: GU
  • Post-race: Peet’s vegan blackberry apricot oatmeal scone (not because it’s vegan, but because it’s the only one I can choke down without feeling ill), the remainder of my iced tea, and a packet of Justin’s almond butter
The almond butter discovery was a revelation. I knew that I needed some protein post-run, but I don’t really want to eat anything substantial for the first few hours afterward. These cute little packets are portable, convenient and portion controlled. I tried it for the first time yesterday and it made a huge difference in my day. I wasn’t cranky, shaky and irritable by lunchtime, and I just felt better overall. This stuff is genius. I’m heading back to the store to buy as much of it as I can get my hands on.

Thanks

I also want to take a moment to thank my donors for getting me past the $900 by July 14th, helping me to meet a Team challenge goal. I appreciate all of your financial and emotional support as I go through this training yet again.

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