On my new training schedule, Thursdays are my long run day. Last week I had a really, really bad long run (14 miles). I nearly passed out, I felt sick the whole day, and I had several days of low blood pressure thanks to severe electrolyte loss. Oh, and the cramping? My calves and abs seemed permanently crunched. I was doing so poorly during the run that at mile ten I detoured home and chugged some OJ. That perked me up enough to finish the last four miles without stopping (I'd stopped multiple times throughout the ten miles); my last four miles were under 9 min/mile pace which was good compared to my first ten! When I had sufficiently recovered (like, by Sunday)I tried to analyze the run to see where I went wrong. Here's my list of problems and solutions:
1. Problem: I overheated before five miles. Solution: I started running at about 9:30 am. Too late in the day! I have to start earlier or much later.
2. Problem: My head felt baked by mile two. I had slight burns on my cheeks even with sunscreen. Solution: Wear a white running hat and select a shady route. The route I've been using for long runs starts with a ten-mile back bone; I add loops in Audubon park to increase distance. Unfortunately the ten mile route involves a stretch of shadeless levee that ALWAYS does me in! I think I need to abandon this route for the summer.
3. Problem: Excessive sweating meant excessive electrolyte loss and dehydration. I ate a GU on the way but if I hadn't stopped for juice I think I would have fainted on the trail. There are water fountains along the route in the park, but not for the first 5 miles, or during the distance I ran up St Charles (about another 5 miles). I brought a water bottle with me that I froze prior to my run, but it was completely melted in about 15 minutes. It quickly grew warm (I drank it anyway). If you don't mind a little TMI, I'll tell you that I was so dehydrated post-run that I couldn't produce urine for 12 hours. It was BAD. Solution: Bring gatorade/water mix on the run, bring GU, stop at every fountain, start madly licking the sweat that trickles past the lips.
4. Problem: Tired legs. I stand up 8 hours a day. My feet and legs always hurt! Solution: Wear compression support hose to work the day before a long run. I should be wearing them everyday anyway!
5. Problem: No fuel. I didn't want stomach cramps, so lsat week I didn't eat before the run. Plus I brought a berry GU and I cannot stomach the fruity GU's. Solution: Run earlier, before morning insulin release lowers blood sugar; eat carbs the night before. I hesitate to eat the morning of a run unless I have time for digestion and I usually don't because, hello, love me some sleep! Of course, eating GU helps too.
So, did my planning work? Let's recap:
Problem 1: I did get up earlier and was out of the house by 7:15. However, that's not nearly early enough. The sun was beating down by 8:00 and it was killer hot (Actually there is a heat advisory today until 7 pm and it was 89 degrees with a heat index of 104 by 9:00 am. But it was still better than last week).
Problem 2: I ran all the way down St Charles Ave plus several loops in Audubon this time; there was more shade, but large sections of St Charles are still quite sunny and my lips got a sunburn. I hate lip sunburns. Also I forgot my hat.
Problem 3: This time I brought gatorade and water (3:1 mix) and it made all the difference! Only I ran out about 3/4 of the way through; not sure how to solve this problem (Larger bottle? Stash some in the park?) but I need to because I felt my pace drop once I ran out. I started on water and GU after I ran out of gatorade and I did ok.
Problem 4: I wore the nasty old lady hosiery yesterday and my legs felt good the whole run.
Problem 5: I did eat bread and rice cereal last night but I still started feeling a tad faint during the run. I didn't finish my GU because honestly warm espresso ooze washed down with warm water was making me want to puke. I still need to work on this one.
All in all, I felt great during and after this run; I did 16 miles in 2:18:50, and the only time I turned off my watch was when I dashed into Rite Aid to fill up my water bottle and when I waited an excessively long time to cross at Lee Circle. Sometime I turn off my watch when I stop for water and GU or for crossing busy intersections but in the interests of more accurate time I let it run.
I filled my bottle back up with gatorade for the next long run... I skipped the water this time.
Now since it's my day off I'm going to relax and recover before I have to clean my fridge. I've been putting that off for (I'm ashamed to say it) a month. As a reward I'm hitting the farmer's market later for fresh produce to fill my fresh clean fridge!