Friday 31 August 2012

A different kind of carb loading

On Sunday, I'm running the Kent Coastal Marathon for the second time.  As my training's been pretty minimal recently I'm not anticipating a sub 4hr, but would like to beat last year's time of 4:09. I'm really looking forward to the race, especially as quite a few people I know are running it, but also because I loved the course last year - running by the sea is something I very rarely have the chance to do, but it's wonderful.

Usually, when a marathon is coming up, even if it's not a goal race and I'm not tapering, I still carb load like crazy, using it as an excuse to overeat junk food. Instead of just changing the proportions of my diet to include more healthy carbs, I eat twice as much as I should do, and revert to my favoured crisps, chocolate, cakes and biscuits, telling myself it's ok because I'm carb loading! The lies I tell myself, and am willing to believe, are incredible!  In fairness, this has generally stood me in good stead for races, but unfortunately I always find myself weighing more after the marathon than I did the week before.

In light of my new commitment to my nutrition, this time I'm approaching my carb loading a bit differently i.e more like an athlete, less like the cookie monster!

Hopefully this will still work for me, I'll still have a good race and I wont hit the dreaded wall - something that's never happened to me before, but if I don't carb load enough I might.  It'll be an interesting experiment either way.

I found the article below, online in the Running Times, which I've found pretty useful and I'm following the advice it contains. A link to the original web page is here.

Carbo–loading Rules to Run By

Learn when and how to effectively carbo-load
“Am I eating enough or too much?” It can be nerve-wracking wondering if effective carbohydrate loading is being applied before a major race. Just because the belly is full doesn’t mean it’s full of beneficial carbohydrates that will support successful racing. Consider these basic rules in understanding where carbohydrates enter the diet, what the best carbohydrates are leading up to a race, and how to effectively carbohydrate load.

1) 90 Minutes or Longer
Carbohydrate loading is appropriate for races lasting 90 minutes or longer. Such events begin to exhaust glycogen stores. By carbohydrate loading, a runner may be able to sustain pace longer, supporting endurance performance.

2) Know Thy Carbs
Most runners know good sources of carbohydrates are bread, and, well, pasta. So that means you should eat more bread and more pasta to carb load, right?  
It’s true that eating bread and pasta will support carbohydrate loading, but there are other great sources of carbohydrates to keep in mind when carbohydrate loading.

Thursday 30 August 2012

Only 252 days to go....

Just saw a video that Brathay Trust have posted of the 2012 10 marathons in 10 days event and the Windermere Marathon (which is held on the last day of the 10in10) and thought I'd share it.  I can't believe that in just 252 days...that's going to be me!! :D

Presents in the post

I never get anything in the mail.  Well, I do, but not very often, and even less often is it something I actually want! So the last couple of weeks have been a bit of a turn-up for me...I've had some presents through the post :)

The most recent is something I bought myself a while back and have been waiting in anticipation to arrive - a little Lego minifig as a memento of my ultra, from Savage Steel's Minifigs website

I've also been sent the awesome Scott Jurek's book "Eat and Run" to review, which I will be starting shortly, and plan to post about in some detail - other reviews I've seen have all said it's really interesting and Jurek is one of my inspirations, so I'm really looking forward to reading it and hopefully learning from it, especially in light of my new focus on my weight and nutrition!

Last, but not least, and in a way related, I've also been sent this amazing set of Hi-5 supplements from SportPursuit that will hopefully get me through my next ultra in even better shape!

I've never used anything like the High-5 products before - I've drunk lucozade or powerade (or just plain water) and as you'll know if you've read this blog for a while, I've also suffered quite badly from hyponatremia after races so am well aware that it's not always enough!  As much races get further and more frequent, it's high time I sorted out my running nutrition and replenishing my electrolytes properly, and so this delivery has come at just the right time.  As well as my haphazard approach to my drinks, I haven't used gels before during training (prefering mars bars) or during races, when up to marathon distance I've only ever had drinks.  In the two ultras, I did eat, and chose flapjack, salted peanuts and Rolos, but again, I need to start trying out some of the more advanced nutritional options that are out there - it might not work for me, but at least for the marathon distances, I need to make sure I'm not missing out on something that could make a real difference to my races, or to my recovery from them.

As I haven't really done any decent long runs recently, I've not tried out any of the gels yet, although when we went out on our 50 mile bike ride the other day Francis had a couple and he was really positive about their effect so, as I'm heading out for a 12 mile run tonight after work, this will be the start of my trials! 

Wednesday 29 August 2012

A wake-up call

I went to the gym this morning.  I got the personal trainer to weigh me.  It wasn't good news.

I thought I had a rough idea of my weight and body fat percentage from my scales at home (although admittedly I've been putting off weighing myself for the last month or so).  However, the numbers on the scales at the gym were very much worse than what I'd expected.  I'm putting this down to 1) I ate breakfast before going to the gym 2) I was clothed and 3) I've put on some weight over the last few weeks!

But there we go. It doesn't matter about any of those things - the point is I have a starting point, and a benchmark with which to compare my progress over the coming weeks.

On the plus side, I had an incredibly hard but enjoyable session in the gym of 5 minute warm up on the bike, 45 minutes of grueling circuits (burpees, press ups, crunches, dips, boxing, step jumps, and a whole host of other things), and then 10 minutes of stretching.  I'm feeling absolutely "fatigued" (word of the day from my PT) but also very motivated to eat well this week, and get some lower numbers on the scale when I go back for my next session!

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Sabotaging my training

It's been a long time since I've posted...too long really.

When I go an age without posting it's usually because my running has gone to pot and I'm too embarrassed to admit it, but this time it's a bit different.  I've not stopped running by any measure. Although I haven't got back to my pre-ultra mileage levels I've still been clocking up an average of about 20 miles a week (29 miles last week) with a few speedwork sessions thrown in for good measure which I've felt great about, but I haven't managed any particularly long distances - the furthest I've run recently is 13 miles. I feel like I've just been ticking over rather than getting stuck into the heavy marathon training I had planned.  However, I think I'm ok with that. It's been five weeks since the ultra and in that time I've had my birthday celebrations, working at the Olympics, a wonderful break in Paris, a friend's wedding - I've thoroughly enjoyed myself! Taking things a bit easier has probably been a good recovery period for my body (I certainly don't have any aches or pains at the moment) although it does mean that it'll be a miracle if I get a sub-4hr finish in the Kent Coastal Marathon that I'm running on Sunday!  But you know what, I'm ok with that too. I went for a 50 mile bike ride this weekend with Francis instead of the 20 mile run I had planned and I really enjoyed it, whereas there was a time when I'd have beaten myself up about that.

This is a 13 stone burger!!
The thing that I'm not ok with, and that I think has been stopping me from blogging, is my eating.  It has been going from bad to worse. I'm meant to be preparing to get myself in the best shape of my life for the 10in10, and yet I seem to be sabotaging my efforts by throwing grotesque quantities of chocolate, biscuits and crisps down my throat and eating incredibly inappropriate portion sizes.

To refocus on what I have to remember is a key part of getting race fit, I'm going to ask the personal trainer to weigh me and measure my body fat at my gym session tomorrow.  Although he was keen to discuss my nutrition when I started working with him, I completely avoided it, saying I just wanted to do some strength training and didn't want to think about losing weight - I realise now that I just didn't want to face the issues I have with food at the moment.  I think I've come to accept that I absolutely have to deal with them, I can't ignore it (or the unfortunate weight gain I've experienced over the last couple of months). My first step will be a regular weigh-in to keep me accountable and then putting much more effort into just saying no to the junk! As we all know, you can't out-train a bad diet!

Monday 13 August 2012

Memories & motivation - the best Olympics ever

So, it's over.  The most amazing Olympic Games ever held (I might be biased) have finished, the London 2012 flame has been extinguished, and the flag has been handed to Brazil...but it was a wonderful, emotional, inspiring time and I feel a real sense of loss at its close.

My running has unfortunately taken a back seat during the Olympics (what with being a volunteer Games Maker at the Olympic Park or being unable to tear myself away from watching all the sport on the TV, two laptops & iPad we've simultaneously been using) and I have clocked up just  37 miles since the Opening Ceremony! I think I have to accept it's probably a good thing that the Olympics didn't last any longer, for the sake of my fitness if nothing else.

But now, as I refocus on my both my goals and what I need to do in training to achieve them, this will change and my mileage will get back to normal, and then start to increase as I prepare myself for the 10in10. I'm taking inspiration from the ordinary people that the Olympians were before they committed to put in the relentless "hard work and grafting" (as Mo Farah put it) to become the extraordinary athletes they have proved themselves to be during the Games.  I'll never be as fast or as strong, or able to dedicate my life to sport as they do, but I can certainly be the best that I can be.

I'm not just a marathon runner...I'm a London 2012 Games Maker!

I wrote a "Top Moments" list for the Olympics, but it became ridiculously long, so I've shortened it.  The result is that my list now omits many amazing performances I've seen, and experiences I've had, but I decided for the sake of brevity I had to whittle it down to a Top 10. So in no particular order, here it is:-

 * Attending the rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony. Words can not describe what it was like to be inside the stadium for that show. Danny Boyle is a genius.
 * Seeing just how much competing meant to every athlete, TeamGB or not - whether they won or lost, the emotions for most were etched on their faces, telling us the story of just how much they sacrificed & how hard they'd worked during the last four years.
 * When I started crying with pride, empathy and admiration as the runners came round the corner towards me in the women's marathon.  Although they were not the only tears of pride & admiration I shed during the Games...
 * Watching Mo Farah's 5km and 10km phenomenal, triumphant races, as I screamed encouragement at the TV. He's an absolute hero.
 * The World Record breaking 800m race by David Rudisha.  Lovely man, awesome performance!
 * The elation and the exhaustion of the rowers who gave absolutely every ounce of themselves in their races. 
 * The domination of the fantastic TeamGB cyclists. Bradley Wiggins & Chris Hoy are absolute legends. 
 * Jessica Ennis's gold - mainly because I think there was so much pressure on her, I am amazed at her strength of character and determination to actually achieve what was expected of her.  Also, I really believe that the multi-sport events are the hardest, and those competitors are the very best of the athletes.
 * Flag waving & cheering - at the screen at home, at work, at the Olympic Park and at the women's and men's marathons - any chance I get...give me a flag & I'm happy.  People at work even waved my flag at my desk on my behalf when I was out of the office and TeamGB got a medal  I'm am sure that the waving of the lucky flag has helped many to success!! ;)
 * The atmosphere at the Olympic Park. The place is truly astonishing & beautiful, especially as the sun sets, or at night when it's amazingly illuminated, with everyone happy, all sharing an experience, everyone patriotic but supporting each other.

I'll post some other photos from my Olympic experience, but for now, here's the fab TeamGB "Don't Stop Me Now" video - this song has always been one I love to run to, but now it will be a much greater motivator for me....