Thursday, December 23, 2010

Nutrition

I'm putting a lot of thinking into insurance as the big runs approach. The goal is to insure against cramps and help to avoid the wall. The Phoenix edition of the Rock and Roll marathon series gives me a perfect opportunity to test my nutrition strategies with a few months of buffer before the big run.

After quite a bit of research, I've settled on Hammer Nutrition as my primary solution. Lately, I've used HEED powder on training runs to keep the electrolytes up without a lot of sugar. I've not made my way through all of the flavors, but Subtle Melon really works well for me - even in a double strength bottle. The 'subtle' in the name certainly rings true and makes for easy intake.

For fuel, I'm focusing on Hammer Gel - vanilla flavor as the primary solution. I started with single-use gel packs, but have moved on to a 650ml bottle that I can put into smaller distribution flasks. Wearing a few flasks on my running belt, while carrying a HEED-spiked water bottle with a carrying strap gives me what I need for two to three hour workouts.

My next experiment will be with protein. Based on my reading, for endurance events, such as 40for40, I'm going to need to integrate protein into my carbohydrate intake. Hammer Nutrition has an interesting mix called Perpetuem that functions both as a carbohydrate replenishment solution and a protein source. There is even a flavor - Caffe Latte - that incorporates a mild dose of caffeine into the mix.

For days when I really get behind and I start to flag, I carry Sports Beans - lemon-lime or orange flavor. These are made with cane sugars so it doesn't meet a low-sugar criteria, but I find that I get quicker relief in the event that I'm starting to hit the wall on a long training run.

All in all, I plan to go to Phoenix with the following strategy. HEED prior to the race and possibly a few ounces to carry me through the first five kilometers. From there forward, I'll rely on good old water at the water stations for hydration. Hammer Gel will be my first choice for fuel, carried in distribution flasks on my race belt. After 20 kilometers, I'm going to mix in some Perpetuem, using the solid tabs. I'll have some Sports Beans in reserve in the case that things get tough. Nothing like a sugar rush to bring morale back.

After the marathon, I'll be able to hone my intake plan prior to making the big run in April. Stay tuned for a post-Phoenix update for what worked and what didn't.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Legend

With miles and miles of running under my belt and plenty more in the future, I'm always looking for some variability and a new scene to accompany a morning or evening workout. Last week, I was lucky to be traveling on the west coast with a stop off in Eugene, Oregon. For those that don't know, Eugene is truly a Mecca for the distance runner.

The infatuation with running in Southwest Oregon probably dates back to the spirit of the Pioneers, but the true frenzy was released by a young school boy named Steve Prefontaine. The Marshfield High School runner took America by storm with his huge performances in the one mile and two mile distance categories. He later went on to become a true Legend in the 5,000 meter distance, and almost single handedly delivered America's running community into a running boom of success in the 1970's. In fact while running for the famed Oregon Track Club, he set American records in every distance from 2,000 meters to 10,000 meters.

Unfortunately for all of us, we lost Pre to a late night automobile accident at the young age of 24. But Pre's legend and his influence lives on - palpably so - in Eugene. Lucky for me, he has inspired a magnificent network of running trails in the downtown area, running up one side of the Willamette River and down the other -- http://www.eugenerunningcompany.com/home/erc1/smartlist_22/running_trails_in_eugene.html

With a little knowledge of the beautiful views to be had, I set out on an early morning jaunt. As with many of my best sessions, I wasn't 100% sure of the final distance when I took my first stride. I suppose the inspiration of an awesome, rain-swollen Willamette River drove me further than I imagined. In the end, I had logged nearly 20 miles at consistent, training pace -- http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/iYNpoI-6dVo

Pre's legend lives on in Eugene. And I'm honored to have taken a few steps on his trail.