The following ideas are what I believe in- do they work for me? Not all the time and in any race- can they work for you? I believe that every distance runner is different and I will be happy to share my principles with you and give any individual advice I can- just ask!
This is a tough one, I have spent a lot of time reading about all kinds of theories and continue to experiment with different diets. At this time, I am convinced that a long distance runner can benefit from training with a diet low in carbs to strengthen the fat metabolism and then load up on carbs close to any race longer than the half-marathon distance. If I could pick a nutrition sponsor, however, it would be Starbucks and, yes, Ben&Jerry’s…
Despite all the extreme theories on both sides about mega-hydration and fear of hyponatremia, my advice is to keep it simple and drink to thirst. During training, water (salted over longer runs) is all you need, when racing, I have recently discovered Tailwind and find that it gives me proper calories and sodium as well as a bit of caffeine and is well tolerated by my sensitive stomach. Adding a bit of ginger or drinking actual Ginger Ale also seems to work.
Just like everywhere else in life, good advice is readily available everywhere and we are just as ready to ignore it most of the time. For parts of my running life, I have followed cookie cutter schedules from books and online training services, semi-custom pace-based plans and very recently even hired a personal coach as an experiment. So far I have enjoyed this de-luxe experience as I am building trust with someone who cares about running even more than me. Do I feel like I could be self-coached instead? Absolutely, since I feel I have read most of what is available and relevant to me in the market and am convinced that I know myself better than any coach near or far could with their mile-high outside view. I am also looking forward to continuing my studies and getting a running coach certification such as the one offered by the Road Runners Club America (RRCA).
While I am preparing to be a coach myself and possibly self-coach in the future, I consider it essential to go through this intimate experience of working with a personal coach myself.
I like to do 3 noteworthy runs every week and I am really looking forward to the book “Meb for Mortals” in April as it might prompt me (as an almost master) to change from a weekly to a 10-day cycle. These are typically:
a) a long run of 20+ miles with a fast finish or a tempo component interspersed
b) a tempo run of 10+ miles at around marathon pace
c) repeats or intervals of some sort at anywhere between half-marathon pace to 5K pace (not that I know what that is…) depending on length and number of repeats
Aside from those, I will run easy by feel and try to mix it up with running stroller , treadmill and trail as much as I can.
A year in the life of a runner is a long, long time. It is also full of temptations to race often and long as more and more races keep popping up everywhere. I believe it is important to focus on a small number of main races per year. To me, those have recently been a trail ultra in February and one in October as well as some sort of a long race in summer. For a lot of traditional runners this might be a Marathon in April and one in September. This is, let’s face it, the rhythm for a lot of elite world-class runners and peak performance ultimately requires focus and dedication. Outside of the main event buildups, it can be very useful to train for speed and race shorter distances or just go on adventures without expecting top outcomes- I will try and do some spontaneous events this year that coincide with private and business travel and just go with the flow- just don’t expect to score PRs.
This should really be the Holy Grail for all of us: healthy and well-time food, massage (or foam rolling in my frugal nature) and sleep(have recently started tracking it) are what most of us cannot get enough off. Same goes for rest as ambition drives us to go longer, further and harder all the time. This is where my final thought for the day comes in:
- Heart Rate Monitoring
I have long ignored this important training clue since I had both hated the 80s style chest strap and also wanted to be more like the African pros who run by feel and pace charts. I recently got an optial HR wrist band, though, and am keen to at least collect the day and try and derive some essential data from it. It is fascinating to read about the latest science, such as Heart Rate Variability and be able to experience it first hand with basic means such as the Movescount web portal. I am really learning interesting clues about my body’s reaction to training and its ability for recovery.
Thanks for sticking with me on these somewhat random thoughts on training-more soon.