I received this in the mail yesterday…

huma gel variety pack

Flavors (from L to R): apples & cinnamon, mango, cafe mocha, raspberry, blueberry, lemonade, strawberry, chocolate.

New Huma gels! If you recall, I previously tried out their blueberry and strawberry flavors before deciding to use solely the strawberry during the Country Music Half. Now they have a bunch more flavors to try, including some caffeinated ones.

An article I read the other day (coincidentally, since I had already ordered the gels), showed some research that intaking more gels per hour can increase performance during marathons and that gels with caffeine also help. I’m not running a full marathon and I’m not about to start downing the amount done in the study (60g of carbs), but I figure it can’t hurt to see what happens when I attempt to increase my fuel intake.

For the Country Music Half, I kept it pretty simple. I took in one gel about every hour (just before the water stops at miles 4.6 and 9.2), which was about 22g of carbs per hour. I want to try adding in one more gel to my plan, so roughly every 30-45 minutes.

Luckily, I have two long runs coming up that can help me experiment with this before Tom King.

In my upcoming 12 miler this weekend, I plan to try out some of the new flavors and attempt one of the new caffeinated gels (I’m fairly sensitive to caffeine since I rarely ingest it). How this goes will determine how I decide to fuel the Cedars Frostbite Half next weekend, which I’m not racing but am using as kind of a dress rehearsal for Tom King. Cedars has three water stations (miles 3, 7, and 10), so that will correspond nicely to taking in three gels and making sure my stomach can tolerate that.

My 11 miler last weekend was done without any gels at all (though I probably topped off my glycogen with Oreos and milk before I headed out), and I managed to average just 11 seconds off of goal pace. It’s actually better* to do most training runs without fueling so that your body can learn how to use fat as a backup fueling source when you’re all out of glycogen. This is why I pick one or two long runs where I test flavors and strategy and ignore the rest of them.

I’m excited to try new flavors and determine what I’ll be carrying during my goal halves this year!

*Or so I’ve read. I’m not an expert.

Week of 1/19/15 – 1/25/15: Tom King Half Training, Week 10

week of 1/19/15 to 1/25/15

Monday: rest day
Tuesday: 12x400m fast – 5.7 miles total (11:00 avg pace)
Wednesday: 3 miles (10:33 avg pace)
Thursday: 2x3mi tempo – 7.2 miles total (10:24 avg pace)
Friday: rest day (much needed)
Saturday: 5 miles (split into two runs – 11:06 and 10:46 avg paces)
Sunday: 11 miles (10:29 avg pace)

Back to setting new records every week! This is my new highest mileage week, and I’m on track to set my highest mileage month (previous high is 101.7 and right now I’m at 101.3).

This week actually went quite well. I was quite terrified of the 2x3mi tempo run on Thursday (tempo pace is basically my 10k pace – 9:45-10:00 min/mi), but I didn’t have any real problems with it. I did have some stomach issues about a quarter mile into the second set, so I walked briefly until it subsided and then was able to finish without any further issues. I averaged 9:55 min/mi for the first interval and 9:56 min/mi for the second.

My long run went great! I felt strong for the majority of it, despite that I didn’t fuel with gels at all. Also I learned that a great motivator to run faster 9.5 miles into a long run is to run underneath an area of trees with a million birds that start pooping all at once. I may have screamed. I did not get hit, though.

Week of 1/12/15 – 1/18/15: Tom King Half Training, Week 9

I’m a little late on this, but it was a recovery week and it kinda sucked anyway, so…

week of 1/12/15 to 1/18/15

Monday: rest day
Tuesday: 8x800m fast – 6.0 miles total (11:00 avg pace)
Wednesday: scheduled for 3 but decided to take a rest day
Thursday: supposed to be 5mi goal pace but… – 3.5 miles total (11:38 avg pace)
Friday: rest day
Saturday: supposed to be 6mi but… – 3.5 miles total (11:07 avg pace)
Sunday: 7.6 miles (11:10 avg pace)

Ah, my first cut-back week! I was actually supposed to take one a few weeks ago, but I didn’t since I took an earlier week off to rest my foot in December. However, the timing of this one was good, since last week was my highest weekly mileage ever (and it only goes up from there).

This week was all over the place. It started out well with Tuesday’s speedwork. Then I just took Wednesday off since it was a cut-back week anyway. My next two runs were plagued with GI issues, and my long run was all sorts of tough (cramps, blisters, fatigue, you name it), though I did manage to the distance I was supposed to do.

But I’ve shrugged it off. Some weeks are bad. At least it was a recovery week anyway.

Making Long Runs Mentally Easier: Segmentation

I discovered this last spring in my previous round of half training. Usually, for my long runs, I will go out to the greenway and just do an out-and-back: run half my miles in one direction, then turn around and come back. This is not mentally easy. I am constantly saying to myself on the first half, “Ugh, I’m not even to the halfway point yet.”

Then one weekend, I needed to put fourteen miles in and I was on a portion of the greenway that I could only get eight out of without repeating part of it. So I decided to add the additional miles on another part of the greenway that branches off. I put those miles in the middle of my run to break up the monotonous out-and-back. And it was so much easier.

I did this again on my ten miler this past weekend. Here is a map to demonstrate what I’m talking about:

long run segments

I started at point A. I then ran to point B, which is an intersection. Then to point C, where I turned around and went back to point B. Then I did an out-and-back to point D before running back to the start. However, I still needed two more miles, so I did another out-and-back to point E. Whenever I reached one of these points, I took a quick one minute walk break and drank some water. All I ever concentrated on was getting to the next point. I never was looking at my watch and thinking, “I’ve only done three miles?!”

It requires a little bit of planning beforehand, but I think it’s much less daunting to think about just running a mile or two instead of the whole long run.

Week of 1/5/15 – 1/11/15: Tom King Half Training, Week 8

Halfway through the training plan! This week marks my first voyage into double digits since last April. Oh, and this is also the highest weekly mileage I’ve ever done.

week of 1/5/15 to 1/11/15

Monday: 6.0 miles easy (11:21 avg pace)
Tuesday: rest day (Preds game)
Wednesday: 12x400m fast – 5.4 miles total (11:29 avg pace)
Thursday: 3.0 miles easy (11:17 avg pace)
Friday: rest day
Saturday: 5mi steady – 6.0 miles total (10:49 avg pace)
Sunday: 10.0 miles (10:33 avg pace!)

My schedule still isn’t completely normal this week. (My calendar says speed work on Tuesdays, easy run on Wednesdays, tempo/steady/goal pace run on Thursdays, easy on Saturdays, long on Sundays.) But I actually didn’t mind this rearrangement, even though it meant running six miles the day after a long run, having also run almost six miles the day before it as well (nearly 21 miles in 3 days…I think I’m ready for Ragnar). And I got to do my group run on Thursday!

The last time I did my 12x400m speed work (two weeks ago), I took a full 400m break between my fast intervals (I jogged, then walked, then jogged during that time, which averaged about 3 minutes, 20 seconds). This time I took a timed 2 minute break, only walking. I think this was too much. I was probably completely recovered after 1:30, so I’m thinking of shortening the break when I do these again in two weeks. I’m not going to say the fast intervals were easy, but…they weren’t hard.

My steady run on Saturday went well. I ran all five miles in my steady pace zone (or faster) without walking, woohoo!

I perhaps ran my long run a little too fast. I know I’m supposed to be running these at easy pace, but there’s some sort of satisfaction in running them faster when I have heavy, tired legs. Oh well.