Monday, February 28, 2011

Half Marathon Series - Water

Water is important and on hot days or anything longer than seven miles. During those runs you are probably going to want to carry some with you.

Some people do just plan their long runs around water stops (Jack in the Box here, Starbucks there, drinking fountain over there). That is great for refilling water bottles, but I am the type to slowly sip along the way. Plus once the temperatures start warming up water becomes even more important. Here are some ideas for carrying water.

Handheld water bottle - This is a great option for shorter runs. H purchased the one linked. I like to "borrow" it on short runs during hot days. The water is carried in hand. I switch hands every mile or so.

Hydration belts - The one linked is mine. I like the metal circle in the back because it helps the belt move on my hips, so it stays in place pretty well. It is worn low on the hips.

Holster Hydration Waist Pack - I have seen these more on marathon runners. Not sure what the difference is. Perhaps if I start doing some marathons I will give it a try.

Multiple bottle belts - These are belts usually worn around the smallest part of the waste and carry as much as four bottles. Personally that is a lot of extra weight to carry. I would rather stop and refill my two bottles. I see a lot of guys wearing these types of belts. Once again, not sure why, but a lot of dudes wear them.

The other thing to think about is if a sports drink is appropriate in those bottles. I personally dislike Gatorade during a work out. It gives me heart burn and upsets my stomach. The best thing I have found is CytoMax. They served during Seattle RNR and I have never felt more hydrated during a race. I also like GU Brew for recovery after runs. It has protein in it, so I wouldn't carry it during. In the winter months I usually go without a sports drink, but during the summer it is helpful. After tough winter work outs I just like to guzzle water and have a protein smoothly.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Half Marathon Series Posts - Fuel

It is the end of February which means the sun might start coming out in Seattle again (although it is currently snowing here right now, so who would really know). This also means the start to race season. Some runners may be thinking about starting to train for their first half marathon. Hopefully they have already picked out a training plan, but if you are one of the ones who has not, I mention a few in this post here.

Today's topic is fuel. One thing I have learned is fuel is very personal and there is not a "best" option. Fuel is needed for ever hour out doing physical activity. I take it with me if I am doing nine or more miles, but in the beginning I would take some for seven miles, pausing at 3.5 for a snack. In order to narrow down what H and I liked we bought a bunch of different types from the running store and found what worked. Even asking the guys at the counter what they liked all three of them had different answers. Anyhow, below is a breakdown of the different types I am aware of. Some I have tried, some I have not. If you have your own favorite post it in the comments.

GU - GU is what the name says. It is a jelly paste consistency. It reminds me a little of hair gel, except a little thicker. Honestly, it makes me gag. That is just me though. A lot of people are huge fans. I have heard girls say they like the chocolate or vanilla flavor because it tastes like frosting. I will stick to real frosting thank you very much. There are many different brands of Gu, the GU brand tends to be the most popular though.

Cliff Shot Blocks - These are my personal choice. They taste like extra gummy fruit snacks. Shot blocks go down pretty easy and do not give me a stomach ache. Shot blocks are sticky on the teeth, so it usually takes a couple swigs of water to wash it down. Beware of chewing them in dusty environments, your teeth might get coated in dirt. GU also makes a brand on shot blocks called Chomps. I have not tried those.

Sport Beans - These are jelly beans full of electrolytes, sugar, and carbs to give you energy. To me they are not best for running. I cannot imagine trying to put a bunch in my mouth and chew while I continue to run. I think they would be great for hiking or for transitioning in between sports. Or you can eat them before setting out.

Natural foods - All sports fuel is really made of are sugars, carbs, and electrolytes. In a pinch just grab some real jelly beans or a fruit roll up. Just try to pick something with natural ingredients in it, like real fruit. It will not help with hydration, but it will give you energy. Leave the protein bars at home though. Those are really meant to refuel before or after a work out (depending on what type you buy).

To caffeine or not to caffeine?
Many of these different products have the option to buy them with caffeine or with out. That is another personal choice. Just be careful you do not take in too much or you will get dehydrated. My favorite is the shot blocks with half a shot of coffee. It gives me a little energy for the way home, but does not leave me dying of thirst.

Go to the running store, spend ten dollars and try out some different types on the shorter of the long runs.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Race Report: Valentine's Day Dash

This past Saturday I ran in my first 5k. Hard to believe, but it was. I ran the Valentine's Day Dash around Green Lake in Seattle, Washington. H had to work, so my friend Talia ran it with me. Back in January when I signed up my goal was to run nine minute miles. We ended up meeting that goal with our official pace being 9:02 (my watch says 8:54 average pace, so that is what I am going with) and a finish time of 28 minutes flat.

We arrived at the race about 40 minutes early. We were able to get around with little traffic issues and with minimal lines at the porter potty. We grabbed our race packets and had enough time to go back to the car to drop off our stuff and come back to the starting line.

We got in line for the start in between the nine and ten minute pace groups. That turned out to be a big mistake. The first mile we spent a lot of time and energy trying to pass people. Next time we will over estimate on the faster end. There is no time to be waisted in a 5k! Our first mile pace was 9:05.

Mile two we had passed most of the people slowing us up. I was hungry to see the two mile marker we saw on our drive in. I was feeling really good at this point, especially for running so fast for a sustained time. Our two mile pace was 8:36.

The last mile is where I struggled. I started to feel nauseous. My legs still felt pretty good, though. I started to slow down a little bit. Watchers on the side lines were cheering us on so I had to hang in there. Finally we were reentering in towards the finish, where we go through the "tunnel of love". At this point is where my stomach could not stay in place. I knew I had less than a quarter mile left. I wanted to hang on so badly, but my gag reflex could not. I had to pull to the side really quick in the tunnel of love and almost lost my breakfast. Luckily I didn't, I hung on, but my quick pit stop cost me a precious 10 to 20 seconds that would have helped me smash my goal! Argh! Talia was a good friend and stuck with me. We finished together and I got some water. It helped settle my stomach. Our last mile pace ended up being 8:58.

The race itself is a lot of fun. It is a good beginners race too. It is completely flat. Only part of the race is run on Green Lake, which is nice. Those poor spectators out walking their dogs do not need to get run over by a bunch of people and much less racers need not worry about dodging them either. The tunnel of love added some interest along the race course. I do wish it was not right at the end (and I also wish I didn't almost throw up in it).

On of the best parts was after the race Talia and I went to Brown Bag in Kirkland where I attempted to eat most of this fruit omelet. Yum! Next up Seahawks 12k in April..

Monday, February 7, 2011

We Go Commando

Full disclosure - If you are reading this and you don't want to know what I do or do not wear under my running tights then stop reading now... really stop, click off the page.... I'll have a new post for you later this week, I promise. Okay new post started!

I admit it. When I work out in the gym I check out other girls. It is easy to do and sometimes good motivation to work harder. One thing I always wondered is how they hide their underwear lines while working out. Wearing a thong while excersizing just does not sound like fun and I had yet to find anything else that works just as well. After some trial and error decided going commando was the best option, especially for running. Cotton underwear absorbs to much sweat. It is just uncomfortable. All the drifit options I found were expensive, caused rolling up (the boy shorts) and wedgie issues.

There are some rules for going commando though. So here are some tips:

Only certain pants are meant for working out with out underwear. Anything with a very distinctive seams are not met for going commando. Anything with a flat seam is safe.

Never go commando when a bench work out is planned. Generally more than one layer of material is required between special parts and shared equipment. Nuff said.

Invest in an anti-chaffing product. Body Glide is my favorite. I always use it for anything five miles or longer.

Feel the breeze. The first time not having to take of soaked cotton underwear you'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Diary of a long run

Sunday I went on a 9 mile run on the Sammamish River Trail with H another good friend of ours. If you have ever wondered how a normal long run goes this is a break down of how it went.

I started out about two hours before we had to leave to meet up with our friend to go on the run. I wanted to update my iPod with a play list to listen to on my run. I had made a play list on the blog here but didn't actually do it in iTunes yet. In trying to get some of H's music into my iTunes I ended up duplicating my entire iTunes library in. Therefore, my priority then became to delete all the duplicates so I could go back to working on my original plan. I was able to delete about 600 duplicates before we had to leave, but no new play list got created. The good news was my recently added tracks were updated, so I ended up using that on my run.

I scrambled to get ready to go so we would not be late. In the process I saw H had out our shot blocks on the counter. I figured he had them out to bring them along. Turns out he just had them out to eat some before we left. We had gotten in the car about five minutes from our house when I asked H if he had the shot blocks. We had to turn around and go back home to get them. I prefer to fuel during my run rather than before (on these longer runs at least). I wasn't about to attempt my first nine miler in a month with out fuel on hand.

We arrived at the trail and meet our friend. We all stretched out and walked our way to the closest mile marker. The boys had decided they wanted to stay with me for at least the first half of our run. I started off and the boys paced behind me. We chatted our way through the first two and half miles going at a comfortable pace.

After the two and a half miles we all either ran out of things to talk about or the cardio work was just taking effect. Either way we all stopped talking and I put in my other headphone ear bud, and continued running along. At about four miles is where I started to feel the effects of the repetitive movement in my joints. That is nothing new so I just kept on going.

At four and a half miles (or the three mile marker, we started at the seven and a half mile marker) is where we turned around. It was also where opened up my shot blocks and ate three of them. I munched them down and drank some water with out slowing my pace at all. At this point the boys decided they wanted to speed up a little bit, so off they went and I was left to my own. They picked up their pace about 30 seconds per mile faster than me, so they were almost always in eye site. My fuel was starting to take effect and I felt great.

At mile six and a half is when my muscles started to get tired. I could feel my quads and hamstrings start to ache a little. This is usually the point where I need to start paying attention to my pace. It is too easy to slow down and make it more comfortable (although I have to say I was pretty comfy the whole time). I also try to concentrate on different muscle groups to keep up my pace.

Mile eight is when my awareness shut off. A lot of runners might notice this. The motion just became automatic and I was numb to my surroundings. At this point I knew the last mile would be a piece of cake. I speed up my pace to match or better what the boys were doing so I could finish not too far off them.

A quick 9:50 later I was finished! The entire run felt really good. I did not have any mental struggles keeping it from being fun. I could have easily gone at least two more miles if I wanted to. It was a confidence making me feel really good. I stretched out and it was time for our reward. The three of us went out for delicious warm meal from Teddy's. I got a veggie burger, sweet potato fries, and even opted for the chocolate shake too. It was so good and my favorite reward for a long run, besides the long hot shower I took once we got home.