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Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's all about the gatorade!

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!


  1. Glad this run worked out better for you! This summer running can be tough but sounds like you are on the right path now. That's a quite impressive time for a 16 mile training run...even without the heat!!

  2. Thanks, Abbi! I was pretty happy with my time today. Anything under 9 is fine with me in this heat!

  3. I'd give the 100% gatorade a test run before a long run if I were you. Once it warms up, I find it to be unbearable b/c it's so sweet. Blech!
    As for GU, have you tried vanilla? I'm not sure if it's technically GU brand or the Power Bar brand, but I find the vanilla flavor to be the most innocuous.

  4. Whew, that sounds like a tough run for sure. I started my LR last weekend way too late so I won't be doing that this weekend. Too hot! I agree with the gatorade/water mix. It works great for me. I also like my hand held Nathan water bottle so I can take a sip whenever I need it on long runs. I'm glad this week's LR worked out better for you!

  5. I also like Luna Moons bc I can eat them one at a time here and there rather than one big shot of gu. Just a personal preference. Or sometimes I'll take mini luna bars or something like that, which I can take small bites of.

  6. Thanks for the tip Shelly, I struggle with anything overly sweet so pure gatorade might not work out - didn't think of that!

  7. Luna Moons? I'm missing out on all this cool running stuff I never heard of! I'm gonna go buy some!

  8. I've been using madarin orange flavored HEED because it's not very sweet tasting and it comes as a powder so it's easy to control how strongly it tastes.

  9. I am glad you came up with some solutions. Feeling like that on a run is NOT good. It's been alot of trial and error for me, but i have found that I need gatorade if I am running more than 6 miles. If I am running more than 10, I need gu. I can only eat the vanilla gus. The fruity ones are so hard on my stomach, they make me so so so so sick afterwards! Not fun!

    Here's hoping the rest of your LR's go smoothly!