Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: Mid-Run Noms

Let's all lip sync some Jovi, because OOOOOOH, I'M HALFWAY THERE!!

Week 6 of training for the Mystic Half Marathon is done...6 weeks left to go!

Total distance for the week: 24.05 miles

Let's talk about mid-run fueling!  Fun, right?

This was a big concern of mine as I trained for my half marathon last year.  That was the first distance race I'd done that was long enough to require me to intake food mid-run.  I was nervous about this, because I have a terribly sensitive stomach, especially in relation to running.  I have had many a long run that leaves me in a fit of stomach cramps and bathroom trips for the rest of the day after it's done.  I tried a few different fueling options before last year's race, with not many favorable results.  I tried two caffeinated Gu's during 2 different long runs (both of which gave me almost immediate, horrific stomach cramps during the run), and one non-caffeinated Shot Block pack, which had better results.  So that was what I used on race day...though I admittedly got distracted during the race and did not eat enough of them (yet another mitigating factor to my less-than-favorable finish).

However, I want to explore more options this time around, because in hindsight, I suspect that my problem with the caffeinated gels was due to user error.  Specifically, that I didn't take in enough water after I ate them.  They say right on the package that you need to hydrate like cray-cray after ingesting, which I kiiiiiiind of did, but I also have this fear of having to take too many bathroom breaks if I drink too much, so I likely under-did it with the water.

I stopped in to my local Fleet Feet on Friday to grab a few options:

Two are caffeinated (a Honey Stinger gel and a GU Roctane gel), three are uncaffeinated (a Honey Stinger waffle, a regular GU gel, and a pack of Shot Blocks...the same ones I used last year at the race).  I decided to try the caffeinated Honey Stinger gel this week during long run.  Keep reading to see how that went (I know you're dying to know).  ;)

Monday: Rest.  I tried to do some strength work, but I was still recovering from last week's nasty cold and did not get much done.  Also, since my husband had to work late, I had to do it while my kids were awake.  Small Fry tried to do the exercises with me ("Mom, why do we have to do planking for so long in a row?  Can I just do it laying down while I play with my cars?") while Tater Tot jumped on my back during push ups.  Great fun!

Tuesday: 4 miles, easy pace.  I was still feeling unsure about my lung capacity (this cold would.not.die.) but this run went surprisingly well.  4 easy miles in the 37-degree pre-dawn darkness, 9:39 pace.

Wednesday: Rest.
  My cough came back somethin' NASTY Tuesday night, so I promised my husband (and my mom, who was visiting) that I would take a rest day for additional recovery time.  Ho-hum.

Thursday: 3 miles easy pace.  I wasn't feeling up to doing Wednesday's skipped tempo run yet, so I kept to the easy Thursday run instead.  Not bad, still feeling less than 100%, but 10:01 pace wasn't terrible.

Friday: 40 minute tempo run.  Finally feeling fully back to myself by Thursday night, so I tried the tempo run Friday morning.  It was...hard.  Tempo/speed work is always hard for me though.  I ran easy for 10 minutes, then upped my pace slowly until I hit 10K pace around 25 minutes, held that speed until the 28 minute mark, then brought it down slowly until I finished at 40 minutes.  As much as I want to die of sweat saturation on the treadmill, I am thankful for it, because it forces me to keep the pace I want for tempo runs and intervals.

Saturday: 4 miles @ race pace.  I was SO excited for a race pace run Saturday morning.  Overall, it went well in the end, but it suffered early on from a case of Too Much Technology.  I set my Garmin's Virtual Pacer (a feature I had never used before) to 9:45 so that it would keep me on my race pace.  The VP beeps at you throughout the run to let you know if you are behind/on/ahead of your desired pace.  I thought this sounded super helpful...right?

Uhhhh...I learned quickly that the pacer annoyed me more than anything.  In the first minute or two, when I was still finding my stride, the darn thing was beeping at me every 5 seconds.  Then, once I thought I had hit a good pace, it suddenly started telling me I was way ahead of pace.  I looked down and saw that it was registering me at a 7:00 pace.  UM, NO?  I think I would know if I was running almost three minutes faster than usual.  I waited a minute to see if it would fix itself, but it didn't.  I finally stopped, paused the Garmin, then started it again.

At first, it seemed it may have fixed itself, but then I got the opposite problem: it started beeping and telling me I was behind pace, running at 12:30.  Again--I think I would know if I was going that slow.  I checked my Nike + (which is hard to do mid-run) and it confirmed that I was running closer to a 9:35 or so.

By the 3rd mile, I finally decided that I needed to just ignore my watch entirely, and try to feel out the race pace by myself.  Kind of a bummer (why did I buy this watch in the first place??) but whatever.  It did seem to fix itself by the last mile, but by then I had pretty much figured out the right speed on my own.  I ended the run at 9:34 average pace (confirmed that on Nike + as well), so I did well...I just wish I didn't have such a distraction from my Garmin for the first half!  No more Virtual Pacer for me, that's for sure.

Sunday: 9 mile long run.  An awesome long run this week!  I got up early to down some peanut butter toast (fuel of champions) before I left.  Plus, I needed time to gear up.  9 miles is when I start taking my Nathan hydration pack with me on runs, because 1) I feel like I need more water at that point, and 2) 9 milers are when I start to use mid-run nutrition, which has to be chased with a lot of water.

I ran my September half with the hydration pack on, and decided afterwards that hydration pack + armband for iPhone made me feel too unwieldy.  So today I decided to try just putting the iPhone in the back pocket of the pack.  This was okay, except for the fact that it meant I had to start Nike + on my phone well before I started running (because I then needed to actually get the pack on my back).  No biggie I guess, because I also had the Garmin for accurate tracking.  But could be a pain on race day.

Anyway, run started out great.  Had to stop for a bathroom break at 3.7 miles (the Tim Horton's in town is starting to just expect me there on Sunday mornings).  Then, moment of truth: tried my caffeinated Honey Stinger gel at 4.6 miles.  Got it down no problem (I love no-chew nutrition), chased it with a boatload of water.  Waited nervously for the after-effects.

And thankfully: there weren't any!  Around 6.2 miles I got a very small stomach cramp that had me feeling like OH NO, HERE WE GO, but it went away and was never heard from again.  I really attribute this to me taking in a LOT more water after I ate than I did last year, so yay for that.

I finished the run at a good pace (10:06 overall) and my fastest mile was #7, which made me happy.  The Honey Stinger definitely kept me in the game.  Plus, I got home just in time for Small Fry to run at me, grab my face, and scream, "DADDY MADE M&M PANCAKES!!!!"  So it was a great morning for all.
He was really stoked.
I should have mentioned WEEKS ago that I've been linking up each week with Weekend Update at Running 'N Reading (a fantastic blog for runners and readers alike!!).  Check it out!

How was your running week, friends?

What's your favorite mid-run nutrition option?  What do you like the least?

Where the heck do you stow your iPhone during runs/races??  Especially those of you taking photos along the route.  I have no idea how I would ever be able to do that with my armband...


  1. Lip sync? Pfft. I say, belt it out!

  2. I need to work more with my mid run fuel as well- I don't have that down to a science yet- so keep sharing what you are doing and thanks for the water tip. I wear a fitbelt and that is where I store everything- l love it!

    1. Thanks for the tip re: fitbelt! I thought this armband was fine, but am now seeing I need a more convenient option.

  3. I'm sorry about your stomach/fueling issues - I feel your pain! Nothing feels worse at that moment, right?! When I did my half, I didn't eat anything during the race....just lots of fluids. And - I had been grabbing mostly water during the race and accidentally grabbed a gatorade at one water stop and my stomach was never right the rest of the race! So, avoid Gatorade, I'd say?! I probably should have tried some gel or something, but had only done fluids in training, so didn't want to shake things up. I did drink a B12 enhanced electrolyte drink pre-race, which always does wonders for me.
    Sounds like things are going great for you!

    1. Honest to God, I think running would be about 90% easier for me if I didn't have to worry about stomach issues!! And yes, I've had that issue with Gatorade before as well. I use it only after the race is over...water only during the run!

  4. M&M pancakes - sounds like heaven! Good luck figuring out fueling. I am still working on it. GUs were okay for a half marathon but sometimes I just want something more solid - sport beans were also good but I was starting to get a cavity because I would chew them on the same side of my mouth all the time and probably not washing them down with enough water. I love waffles but find I inhale crumbs if I eat them while breathing heavily. So they are my pre-race fuel at the start line.

    1. Oh wow re: the cavity! Never thought of something like that. And good to know about the waffle. I think I am going to try that one during my run on Sunday this weekend. If I find it too tough to eat mid-run, a pre-race snack sounds like a better option.

  5. I'm one of those who can't chew and run so I like GU, but the ones without caffeine. I also take Salt Stick Caps which is not fuel but seems to help me especially in warmer temps. I would definitely be excited over M&M pancakes!

    1. Hmmm interesting about the salt stick caps, I will check those out...probably a good option in the summer!

  6. Kelly, congrats on making it halfway through your training cycle! You're doing GREAT! I usually use Honey Stinger gels or chews during long runs/races and have had great success with them; I have also used GU, and they have some flavors I really like. Also, I use a thing called a Flip Belt (you can find them online or at some running shops); it's very lightweight and holds all kinds of things, including my iPhone. I have an armband, but I don't really like wearing it. Way to go and keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you!! Glad the Honey Stingers work for you...after last weekend, I'm thinking I may add them to my regular rotation. And thanks re: the Flip Belt, that sounds much easier to access (and less cumbersome) than my armband.

Imagination Designs