Following my previous blog I received various pieces of advice on the subject of fuelling / refuelling from friends and those in the online running community. Jelly babies seem to be a mid-run favourite for many and according to a good friend I should consume a family bag of onion rings to stave off cramp, top tip Chris!
My plan was to try my longest run ever, 15.2 miles, in my usual slot after work on Friday and for it to be the first test of my fuelling / refuelling strategy ahead of the Leeds half marathon in May and the York marathon in October.
From my SIS kit, see Fuelling / Refuelling – Part 1 , I had the lemon flavour GO Energy powder as directed 2 hours before running. The powder is a 50g sachet and the instructions
on the back are to add 500ml of water. The free bottle you get from SIS is a 400ml bottle which I found rather odd as all the sachets supplied are 50g and need 500ml of water adding, the bottle does have a 40g powder indicator so you could stop there but it seems a bit of a waste to throw away some of the powder. Minor gripe but supplying a 500ml bottle would seem to make more sense to me.
Now the taste, the colleague who sits next to me verbalised my fear, “does it taste like Lemsip?” (other medicinal hot lemon cold and flu drinks are available). Thankfully no it didn’t, I can best describe it as sherbert lemon flavour and it was very easy to drink and I didn’t feel like it was sitting on my stomach at all. I also had my usual chocolate bar with the drink and within half an hour or so I got that slight tingly feeling in my body that you get when you have energy that needs to be burnt off.
Although the main thrust of this post is about fuelling / refuelling I have to give you some context for my run on Friday. The 15.2 mile route was a combination of a couple of my regular shorter routes so I knew where I was going and could focus on the distance and what I was doing. The problem was it was heaving down and blowing gusts of over 40mph. Not one to back down though I had planned this run all week and come hell or actual high water I was going out and doing it. There were several places on my route where the pavement disappeared and became a stream, I gave up trying to avoid puddles and just hoped in the end that I wouldn’t have trench foot by the time I got home; and of course there was THAT driver, we all know the one, who seemed to take great delight in going as fast as possible through the largest puddle known to man which drenched me, on top of the drenching I’d already endured for the previous hour and a half, it was all I could do at that point to muster a V sign at him.
Last week I’d also bought myself a Nike running belt for the bargainous sum of £6.25. I’ve been getting a bit dehydrated on my longer runs and so thought this was a good investment. The bottles slot in very neatly to their clips and there is a decent size split pouch with a zip for all your bits and pieces. I’d run up and down the living room with it on but like a wazzock hadn’t filled the bottles to test it until I actually went out. The consequence was that for the first 2 miles or so on Friday I was more bothered with getting the belt comfortable than I was with my running. Should I have it on my back, my side, slung over my shoulder? Eventually I found the most comfortable place was on my front and once I’d taken on some water the bounce reduced and I didn’t really notice it was there.
By mile 9 of the run my nipples were stinging (I so should have vazzed up!!) and thanks to the wind and rain I couldn’t actually feel my thighs or my hands. At just after mile 10 I had the option to cut the run short and take an early turn for home, the thought seriously crossed my mind but I knew I’d regret it later and so I ploughed on into the head wind and driving rain.
Mile 11 was the trigger for me to get my gel on board, from the SIS pack I’d taken with me the raspberry flavour GO electrolyte gel. I knew that just after mile 13 I had a pretty sharp climb of about 0.75 miles and so I wanted to give the gel time to kick in and give me a boost. It was the first time I’ve had this flavour and it was pleasant enough. As with the other SIS gels I’ve tried so far it was very easy to swallow and I certainly felt the benefit when I needed it. I did feel a bit of cramp at the very end of my run but I put that down to the cold more than anything.
By this time I had also gone slightly do-lally and started singing out loud to the songs I was listening to, and when I say loud I mean LOUD, given the conditions there was nobody else about and I just needed to do something to channel my mind away from the pain I had started to feel both from the running and the cold.
Eventually I made it home in 2hr 6mins, my wife had towels at the ready, as I stood in the hall peeling clothes off reality and self-doubt crept in and I had a little cry to myself, how the hell am I going to add another 11 miles to that? I know the conditions were very much against me and I have time on my side to build on this but I was hurting.
My post-run SIS selection was the REGO recovery sachet, again a 50g sachet which I made up 400ml of before I hit the shower. It is billed as chocolate flavour, maybe I was expecting too much, but it didn’t really hit the chocolate spot for me and tasted more of a mix between a malt drink and chocolate. Again though I did feel a boost but the morning after would be key here as this product should replace key nutrients and aid recovery.
I did get my chocolate fix later though with a nice big slab of chocolate and banana cake. I’d made this earlier in the week with the help of my mini sous-chef Hattie, and very nice it is too.
The day after
Given my efforts I was naturally tired on Friday evening but Saturday morning brought a pleasant surprise, not only did the kids stay in bed until after 7am, but I felt human, I could get out of bed without a hoist, I could walk without pain and I felt normal. Certainly my body has accustomed itself more to the aftermath of running but I’ve never felt that good and given that I’ve never run so far and never used any recovery fuel in the past I can only put my condition, at least in part, down to the SIS products putting me in a good place.
All in all whilst I certainly wouldn’t say I enjoyed Friday’s run/squelch around East Lancashire I most definitely learned a thing or two and it will stand me in good stead for future efforts. I’m going to stick with the SIS products and play around a bit with some other options to see what works best, maybe jelly babies, possibly some protein bars, sadly though Chris I think the onion rings won’t make it into my race day nutrition plan.