Sunday, July 09, 2006

But where are the little chocolate doughnuts?

But where are the little chocolate doughnuts?

Today was my first official long run since the pool episode. The weather was conducive to the effort, although it was windy at times. There is a front coming through that took yesterday's muggy 90+ degrees somewhere south of here and replaced it with some dry 55 degree air. Whenever that happens in North Dakota, the wind rolls across the open plains with nothing to stop it. All you can do is try to stay near the few trees we have and hope for the best.

I have been using Mike's idea about not eating, or in some cases minimal eating, before heading out on my runs. I can't say it is working, but I can say it isn't negatively affecting my performance. The idea is to promote fat burning efficiency by starting the run with insulin levels very low. Insulin is antagonistic to fat burning, therefore the less in your bloodstream when you start the run, the more likely the body is to burn fat as opposed to glycogen. So, you can't objectively see that it is working. Also, it improves, like fitness, over time. It's a faith-based initiative.

Today I had a tiny bowl of Raisin Crisp, some water, and a cup of decaf about 90 minutes before the run. The article I'm referencing above talks about fasting prior to running, but it also mentions that a similar effect can be had by eating a small amount about two hours before the run. Ninety minutes was close enough. The article also mentions that once the run has started, you're free to consume gels, sports drinks, etc. as needed. The idea is to begin the run at a fasting blood sugar level.

I downed twelve ounces of 1:3 gatorade to water and headed out. I've been using the first mile as my recovery indicator, and today it showed I was feeling good. After the first mile in 6:37, I settled in to 6:15-6:20 miles for the first ten. Then the pace dropped. Initially, it took me by surprise because the effort basically didn't change. I thought the GPS had gone wacky, and I would wait for the next mile to get a correction.

The correction never came. With the exception of mile 12, 6:23 into the wind, miles 11-22 were between 5:53 and 6:07. Six of those miles were run around a measured course from my college days, partially to stay out of the wind, and partially to confirm that I was actually doing what I thought I was doing.

I originally had planned on 20 miles, but I was still feeling great at that point so I continued on for a couple more, knowing that long runs have been in short supply lately. I started to get a bit tired at 21, and saw the pace slow to 6:07 while the effort was increasing. Twenty-two would be a good stopping point, and it was reached in 2:16:05, about 6:11 pace.

It would have been fun to continue for 4.2 more miles to see what the time looked like, but I'll save that for another day. Training to race, not training to train. Needless to say, though, to have done this run comfortably and without gatorade or gels out on the run in that kind of time gives me a lot of confidence heading into the next ten weeks. I just have to stay healthy to take advantage now.

Since coming out of the pool, my focus has been aerobic volume. I've done three of these runs, 15, 17, and 22 miles at 6:03, 6:04, and 6:11 pace, respectively. All three have felt comfortably hard overall, that steady-state pace that is hard to quantify, but easy enough to feel.

Obviously, given the amount of keyboard pounding I am doing lately, I am excited about the way things are going. I could not have imagined being 33 years old and being able to run distances and times that I would have struggled with in college as a 23 year old. It truly is all about the miles.

Before I completely exhaust your patience, dear reader, I should describe the picture. I need to track down the reference for this...I have been following a recovery plan after these longer, steady efforts which involves drinking a Slim-Fast shake within thirty minutes of finishing the run, then one to two quarts of water and a decent size plate of pasta or other high carb food about two hours after the run. The article describes the concept fully, but in summary, it is supposed to improve your recovery dramatically. It has worked very well for me so far. I don't have the post run cramping anymore, and I have avoided DOMS (muscle soreness) completely. Drinking a lot of water and gatorade was what I had used before, but it was hit or miss. This seems to work consistently well. Good stuff.

Okay, I'm done now. If you stuck it out and read to the end, thank you, and enjoy the nap which you are surely ready for. Have a good Sunday!


Blogger Wayne

Eric - you were smoking! You should be on your way to a darn good marathon.

7/09/2006 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger Mike

Enough bragging tough guy!

Seriously though, it's so great to read this, especially after the difficulties you experienced after setting the world record for winter treadmill miles.

If this is where you're at without any real speedwork to speak of, I hope you will be very careful and choosy about how you start to add it. I think a little will go a long way, especially if you continue to follow this same arc of fitness as you add in more miles.

Also, I hope you resist the temptation to "race" yourself weekly on these long runs, seeing if you can get faster with each successive effort. The fitness is there, don't "pull on the roots" as Nobby would say.

7/09/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Love2Run

Nice looking snack! All it's missing is the bagel, peanut butter, yogurt and ice cream for dessert... Nice to see you back on track but I'd pay attention to the 'other' Mike ;-)

nap time...

7/09/2006 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Eric

Thanks, guys. I suspect I will have a good debut if this keeps up.

I am pretty sure my 'speedwork' will consist of more of these long efforts, moderate and shorter distance tempo runs, and long intervals on the track. I was just talking with my wife tonight about 2k or 3k repeats at 5:15-5:20 pace. Something like that. Toward the end, I will probably do some 800 repeats to work on VO2. Don't really know yet. I have nine weeks until the taper starts, so we'll see what develops.

Good reminder about the racing. I have developed a fair amount of self control in my old age, so I'm not worried about racing myself. I can wait for October 1 to break two hours for twenty miles.

Yes, Canada Mike, that was just a snack. I've eaten a ridiculous amount of food today and loved every bite. Between food, drink, the Bislett Games, World Cup, Wimbledon, and the Tour de France, this has been an incredible day!

Monday awaits...

7/09/2006 07:15:00 PM  
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