Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Monday Night Long Slow Distance Running

OK, I am confessing something: I woke up Sunday morning and bagged my run because it was raining. I know, not good, right! Still, I felt like I could give myself a pass given all of the inclement days I've run before -- and trust me, there have been lots of them -- and it was Kevin's 13th birthday. And, really, I just felt like staying in bed.

So that meant the run got pushed to Monday night, which wasn't so bad because the skies were clear and it was about 52 degrees when I started. And 45 when I finished, which actually was kind of cold!

In the end, the run was a sort of mixed bag. The first 6-plus miles were actually pretty awesome. I started out pretty slowly and just let myself build into the run, so even though I ran about 12 minutes for the first mile, by the time I reached my first stopping point at about 4.9 miles, I was at about an 11:45 pace and felt like I could run that the entire time.

I basically ran the same route I did for my 12 miler on Labor Day, but added an extra loop through a neighborhood to tack on about another 1 1/2 miles. I definitely had flashbacks because it was a neighborhood I ran through a lot back in the day, and most of the time, like last night, it was dark. It's a neat mix of homes and I remember a time where I could get through it in less than 12 minutes.

This time it took a little closer to 15, but not too bad. It looped around to my stopping point again, so I took a gu and continued on. It was about two miles later that my calves started to take turns cramping up. My right one took the brunt of it, and by the time I was approaching 10 miles my stride had really changed.

My pace didn't slow that much, but it was just hard to get my legs lifted. It seemed like every time there was a slight change in the slope to the road or the sidewalk, I would shuffle the bottom of my foot on the ground or even lose my balance a little.

Not only that, with my calves getting tight, my hamstrings got tight and my back started to get sore. When it starts to domino like that, it's not fun. Back in 2003 I went through a stretch where my back made it so painful to run that after death marching through the LA Marathon in March and the Indy Mini Marathon in May I made the commitment to getting it fixed and went through about three months of stretching and physical therapy. It actually worked well and I haven't had many problems since.

I got back to my stopping point again at about 10.5 miles and finished off the last of a 32 oz. Powerade that I had stashed there. I felt my pace was pretty good to that point, but the last 3.2 miles were a lot slower. So that kind of sucked. But in the end I rolled up to the front of my apartment building with a sense of satisfaction.

I'm a big fan of the TV show Biggest Loser and I thought about the infamous "Last Chance" workouts. The contestants go through this agonizing workout and struggle to get in some final reps, and then the trainer announces "that's your last chance workout" and they are done! I was really happy to be done and to have weathered a bit of a storm.

Surprisingly, I didn't beat myself up about the run, but it didn't take a lot of deductive reasoning to figure out what the issue was...hydration. A few years ago I did a lot of research about hydration strategies and came up with some really good information. In the end I figured out that depending on conditions I lost 16 oz. of sweat every 20-30 minutes.

So if you take a 2 1/2-hour-plus run (last night was about 2:40, I forgot to start the watch for one segment), on the conservative side I sweated off about somewhere between 64 and 80 ounces, which I replaced with just the one bottle of Powerade.

I went into the run hoping that the hydrating I had been doing during the day would get me through, but alas it didn't. It's kind of funny, when I look back over all of the long runs since back in June, the three "worst" have been runs that were unsupported: my 9-miler in Florida, the 12 on Labor Day and last night.

Needless to say, the support from being part of the CARA group is a really important part of why this process has been easier than in the past. Oh sure, I try and use my fuel belt and have always stashed drinks, but in the end you can only do so much. Having jugs of water and Gatorade every couple of miles has been awesome.

During the marathon, my usual water stop M.O. is to go with 2-3 cups of Gatorade and a cup or two of water. I have tried to do that on the CARA runs, and for sure that will happen during the final 20-miler this weekend. It works, that's for sure.

Even though last night's run was a little harder than I had hoped, I learned a couple of things, which is always important. One, I need to drink more and two, I can't do these runs without my compression sleeves to help my calf cramping. Which I ordered another one of last night. Hopefully I nail all of this down on Sunday!

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