Monday, 25 August 2014

Longest distance ever covered on foot ...

by me, that is ... not globally in the history of the planet or anything!

I went out yesterday for my long slow run with a goal of 17miles and actually did 18.5miles or 30km for all the metrics out there.

I wasn't sure how it was going to go as my longest run to date had been the half marathon that I did last week. To be honest, I really wasn't looking forward to it. Part of me was suddenly worried that I might not have what it takes to really go the distance. Maybe completing a half marathon was enough for me?

Also, my right hip flexors have been a bit uncomfortable for a little while now. It's fine on the treadmill, but once I'm outside on more uneven surfaces, a niggling discomfort starts and it gets a bit tiring to run with. It kicked in a 2km on the half marathon because it was so hilly I think.

I had a really good and restful day on Saturday, drinking loads of water and eating little and often, so as to get that glycogen crammed into my little muscles. Bedtime was earlyish at 11pm and my sleep was peaceful and uninterrupted. The alarm went off at 7am and after a tiny dose and a quick shower, I threw on my kit despite the background doubts and headed downstairs for my pre long run breakfast routine, which went something like this:

7.30am 2 max potency Rhodiola Rosea with a pint of water
8am coffee and bagel with almond butter and a little grind of salt
8.30am a Barocca in a pint of water with 2 desert spoons of chia seeds, + supplements of turmeric, lysine and arginine (who knows whether these things work, but they're part of my routine now)
9am finally head off after multiple loo breaks and a bit of procrastination

Last week I tried out Huma and SIS gels. This week I tried out PowerBar (the packaging really puts me off, but they are the ones available on the day, so it would seem sensible to try them out) and Vooma Energy gels. I took three of those water bottles which have the hand hold bit. I can comfortably slot two of them on my bumbag and carry the third. Spot the amateur!! I must look a right sight, but they give me comfort and a sense of control, and I'm not aware of them while I'm running. I also have the lemon and lime electrolyte tablets dissolved in them, which I find to be refreshing and again somehow comforting. The other thing that I tried out was the Sport Beans.

Once I'd arrived, got parked up, set off my ipod and assembled my mass of running paraphernalia, I was ready for the off. I don't usually use my ipod for running except on the previous long runs I've done on the treadmill. On those occasions, I've opted for listening to books as I find that I can tune in and tune out when I feel like it. That's not always great for following a storyline, but I find music quite intrusive when I'm running. For this run it seemed appropriate to continue with Anna Funder's Stasiland.

Sure enough, the old hip flexors started bothering me right from the outset. It doesn't hurt enough to stop .. just a nagging niggle. And it's definitely better on the flat and worse on the cambered part of a pavement or road. I've got a physio session tomorrow which will hopefully help to sort it out because it will be really boring running with that in Berlin. Although, as the course is so flat, I'm hoping that the niggle will keep its head down.

I've still got some trainer issues, which is frustrating. My New Balance don't have a wide enough tongue for my high instep and if I do them up too tightly I get discomfort in my shins and my toes go numb! I used to like my Saucony until they started giving me blisters. Then I thought I had found the answer with some Saucony without the toe box stitching, but it turns out that wasn't causing the blisters in my first pair. Aaarggghhhh sooo frustrating. During the half marathon I picked up a new blister on my heal with the NBs. Foolishly, I thought that was a one off, but it wasn't and came back again with a vengeance during yesterday's run.

To be honest, I'm really impressed that I didn't give up yesterday with the hip / thigh pain and then the blisters, but after a while I didn't really notice them too much. It was such a beautiful day and I was getting a real kick from completing those 4.5km laps. I think that's a good distance to work with for me as a marker, so I'll be plotting out landmarks to spot at 4km intervals I think. Hopefully, Berlin will oblige me with something noteworthy to look out for at such specific intervals.

Pace-wise, I was going slow slow slow as directed by the Jeff Galloway method. That meant run 3 mins walk 1 min run 3 mins walk 1 min .... and on and on and on. I was doing 8min/km to 8.5min/km and got to 30km in just over 4 hours, putting me on target to finish in under 6 hours. That must just sound so horribly long to an experienced runner!

In terms of fuel and hydration, I had a bag of sports beans during the first hour with 500ml of water with an electrolyte tablet. I then topped that bottle up at a water fountain and had a loo break - I do hope there are portaloos on the route in Berlin! At an hour and a half, I had my first PowerBar gel (strawberry and banana - yuck), another at 2hrs, a third at 2hrs 30. Then I switched to Vooma at 3hours and another at 3hours 30. I made sure that I drank to thirst, but also drank more with the gels.

My verdict? I loved the zingy taste of the sports beans - I'm definitely taking some of those for the first hour of the Berlin Marathon and also some for the last hour. The flavour is so intense that I think that hit could be useful towards the end. The PowerBar gels (although disgusting tasting and with horrid packaging) seem to have the best affect on me. I did seem to notice a little rush of power to my legs and a sense of well-being restored. They are also quite small, so I can get a lot of them in my bumbag, and they open easily. I wasn't aware of how important that last point was until it came to trying to open the Vooma gels. With the first one, I could only get the top torn partially off and ended up wearing half of it down my shirt; with the second, I could hardly get the top off at all and ended up biting a hole in it. The whole wasn't quite big enough though and in the process of trying to squeeze the contents out, it ended up slipping out of my hand ... flipping useless! So, I definitely won't be using them. Also, it says you need 285ml of water with each one, which seems like quite a lot considering I like to sip as I go.

So, that's a yes for Sport Beans and a yes for PowerBar. No adverse stomach effects noted, and both seem to provide some physical and mental kick. Hurrah!

The four hours slipped by rather gently. Mentally, I actually felt great, which meant I could push through the leg pain and blister discomfort. Each lap was another great achievement and going past the half marathon distance was amazing. From that point on, every step was a step closer to my Berlin target. At 25km, I decided I had at least one more lap in the tank, so I went for it and finished up at 30km. I think I could have gone round again, but my objective through all of this has been to complete this marathon without hurting myself. So, I'm saving that extra lap for my next and last long run in two weeks time.

After a 5 minute cool down walk and a good 15 mins of stretching, I headed back to the car for a bottle of yucky protein heavy chocolate milkshake and a banana and some raisins. I'm not sure I could have managed anything else straight away, although I made up for it later with the biggest meal I think I've ever eaten!

Over the next two weeks before my next and possibly last long run before Berlin, I'll be doing a load of stretching, yoga, squats, sports massage and 10km short runs. My legs feel pretty good today. I'm sure that living in a town house with a tonne of stairs is actually helping somehow, but let's see how I feel tomorrow.

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