An interesting conversation

So on Wednesday evening I headed out for the SRC run. As I had to run 8 miles, and it is only 1.5 miles there and back, I mapped out a longer route there- just under 4 miles in the end. Not many people turned up at all! It ended up being 3 of us and the run leader. Luckily we were running at a similar speed (well, we have a teenager who comes along and runs rings around us- out and back to stay near us), and the run leader is a really accomplished runner- he did Frankfurt in the autumn in 2.25- so we ended up chatting a lot about marathon training. Some of our discussion points:

How does he fuel for runs? I explained that I could run quite far on empty, and prefer running before food, but I knew that I would need to eat something before the marathon. He talked about the body having around 2000 calories in storage, so that gets a typical person 16-20 miles. This is why most people hit “the wall” at around that distance, as the energy source in the muscles has run out. He trains himself on less food- e.g. one slice of toast, and then on race day will have more (I think he said 4 slices?) to give himself a bit more of a boost.

What is his take on gels? I personally feel that the sports nutrition industry has a lot to answer for. I have seen people taking gels before parkruns! I think that running magazines are obsessed with fueling before runs, and refueling straight after- drinking every few minutes etc. He mentioned again that once the glycogen in your muscles runs out, unless you are efficient at burning fat you will need a source of energy, but probably only after about 15 miles (to pre-empt the 16-20 mile limit)- not every 25 minutes as I saw someone suggest the other day. Today I bought some of those Bear yo-yo’s as I think I have had them before and quite liked them- I’ll have them in my pocket for Sunday to see how I get on with them.

What was his take on the 3 hour training limit? (I have always avoided time training plans as I don’t feel that I can run far enough in the time, plus doing a half an hour run is not that easy to plan, compared to a 3 mile one or whatever). He felt that 20 miles should be a minimum, and he tends to get up to 22 mile runs in his training. We were chatting about being mentally ready as well, and he knew people who had not run as far and then struggled on the day as they had not practised nutrition.

What did we think of the “news” this week that said that running at a high intensity was bad for you? Well, I had just listened to the More or Less podcast that picked apart the study and it was a load of nonsense! I just think it is a shame that scare stories come out like this so frequently and put people off exercise, or validate people who just sit about all the time.

What training sessions does he do? He was saying that his long run at the weekends is never less than 15 miles now, so he is pretty used to long runs. He also does interval sessions on a track, and was recommending hills at the end of a longer run too- I could see the sense here that taking on a hill mid-run can feel tough as you still have to get home, but if it is right at the end then you can tell yourself to give it your all because you are nearly done. I don’t do those sorts of sessions, but I felt like I had a bit of variety- parkruns are where I try and push myself and keep some sort of speed in my legs, rather than just plodding at the same speed the whole time, and the SRC runs are those comfortably hard sessions where I run faster than I do on my own.

What I found useful was that I could not really compare myself to his training, because he pretty much runs twice my speed, so it was just interesting to hear what he did.

It was a really enjoyable run, and I was pleased that despite being tired from Monday’s 16 miles, and from running nearly 4 miles there, we kept to under 10 minute miles for the 5k we did together. I then ran home, and had got to about 7.8 miles so ran up and down the road to make it up to 8.

I found itΒ a real confidence booster- a few months ago this would have been the length of my long run, so to be able to do that in the evening in the middle of the week showed me that I have been progressing with my running.

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Dinner was veggie and bean bake, with the best bread ever, M&S San Francisco style sourdough. They sell it at the bakery, and it is so delicious- chewy and with such a good flavour. I had a slice with dinner, and then saved some to toast for lunch over the next few days.

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If you love sourdough, and want to treat yourself, then I suggest you to give it a try.

I think next time we run I would like to find out about what sort of strength work or flexibility stuff he does as well.

Do you like running and chatting? Or chatting about running?

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15 thoughts on “An interesting conversation”

  1. This is so interesting! It’s exactly what I’ve been thinking about. Hearing that MarathonTalk interview (I can’t remember who the man was but he talked about fat for fuel a while ago – way before Christmas), the recent round table conversation they had and reading this has really cemented it in my brain. It’s just the vision of seeing so many people at the start of a race with a belt strapped to themselves with like 6 or 7 gels hanging from it that makes me go “really? Do we really need this?”
    But it is a risk to not have anything during the marathon…but then I keep thinking about Tom Williams saying he had nothing but water? It’s alll just thoughts floating in my head at the moment. To be honest, I’d probably take a gel with me just in case anyway!
    That’s also interesting about what he said about adding in hills at the end. I’ve got a route at work which has a MONSTER hill that I’ve started incorporating into my run. At first I ended on it, then I did a run where I did it towards the start and then at the end, and soon I hope to progress to do it three times as my runs get a bit longer. I kind of see it as hill training but as part of a bigger run (the rest of the run is run just however I fancy – not pushing it basically!) I’m finding it really works my leg muscles in a way running on the flat doesn’t (which I guess makes a lot of sense).
    I’d be keen to hear what he says about strength training too! πŸ™‚ What a source of knowledge, eh!

    1. Yes, I love chats like this. When I first started running I don’t even think I would go out for a 3 mile run without a bottle of water- I think I just thought I needed it and I suppose the nutrition is the same thing really. I think Tom Williams had trained to burn his fat reserves, so I think it is something you have to work towards, but ideally that is the best fuel to use because we all have more.

  2. Chatting about running is a lifesaver for me πŸ™‚ Running and fitness are the only areas where I feel confident and enthused enough to override all of the anxiety I have relating to my difficulties when it comes to communication and socializing. If the topic of conversation is running, it puts my mind at ease…not that I’m instantly some kind of pro raconteur, but it’s better than my default state of stuttering my way through one or two incoherent sentences.

    I completely agree about gels – taking them before 5Ks is utterly ridiculous, and we have the whole fueling dogma drummed into us so much that people are paranoid about taking on so much during a run that it’s no wonder so many runners have stomach problems. A decent breakfast is enough to last most people (though men seem to rely on quick-release carbs more than women – less fat stores to draw from) unless they’re running a marathon and possibly need something around the 15-20 mile point depending on a variety of factors. Everyone is different though, and I used to run marathons on very little (as in, a scoop of protein powder in water little) without needing to eat at all, and I never bonked once during that time. I know I couldn’t do that now though!

    1. I think you are right – my stomach is dodgy even when I have finished running, so I like to take on as little as possible whilst I am running. I had a bar today and that seemed better than the porridge by the way, so thanks. xx

  3. I totally believe that a person can run a marathon on just water but only if they have fully adapted their bodies to burning fat. I loved the gel talk on MT because its so true that people have become SO dependent on gels for races …. personally I thought it was the only way I would get round when to be honest a few chewys and then a pack of salty crisps at mile 22 would have been perfect for me.

    Oh and run AND talk …. me …. you having a laugh πŸ˜‰

    1. I think that the trouble is, so many magazines and also race training guides are obsessed with gels so you do end up thinking you will need it. I can actually see the appeal of crisps- would make me have a drink but I do crave something salty after a long run.

  4. Good miles. I bloody love talking about running. I can’t believe you’ve seen someone take a gel before parkrun! That’s ridiculous. I did 18 miles yesterday and I had a nakd bar and 2 dates during and that felt like enough for me, I just have something when I feel like I need a little boost.

  5. LOVE this Maria – so much great information from your run leader. I totally agree about the gels/fuelling/refuelling hype and have seen similar examples of people taking gels before a short run.
    Hills at the end is something I’ve been doing recently without much thought to it, it just seems easier to throw one at my legs when they’re warmed up and close to the end – good to know he thinks its a sensible idea!

    1. I think the idea is you are tired so you get more out of it, plus it replicates hills on a race as you will be tired by then, but I like the idea of being nearly home too!

  6. That sounds like a really interesting conversation. I really need to start thinking and chatting more about running from next month onwards as I start training for what could turn out to be 4 races this year! I’m planning on doing the Great North 10k, Colour Run, Great North Run and the Stampede which is 10k. I’ve definitely got my work cut out! As for fuelling I used to swear by dates for longer runs but for shorter ones less than 10k I’d prefer doing them on an empty stomach.

    1. I prefer to run everything on an empty stomach – I have trained myself- worked up from 3 miles gradually and now can do 15 miles without anything. But it takes getting used to I think.
      That is so exciting about all of your runs!

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