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 it 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.
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.
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?