Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Spaghetti with mussels and how to prepare well for a long training run

I have just had the joyful experience of running 20 miles twice in 4 days. The first run was just abysmal, my worst run ever and a blow to the confidence; the second was thankfully much better...really good, in fact. I 've run 20 miles tens of times before, but it has never been this bad. That is why I decided to do it again with Mark at the weekend instead of doing the 10k that I had booked myself in for. I am not sure about the physiology of doing another 20 mile run only 4 days after the previous one, but it was necessary psychologically to put myself through it.  And it was worth it. Everything about the second run was brilliant and having analysed why, it is really not surprising...

"Bad 20 miles"...or.."what not to do before a long run"

The days before - I sang in a choral concert the night before.I stood on my feet all night and ate very little supper, and then drank a glass or two of red wine before I went to bed. Singing makes you really thirsty - I should have drunk lots of water instead. In fact, I was so busy with other life matters (kids, work, house) that I failed to drink enough fluids in the days leading up to this run as well. All my running the week before had been on the Devon coast path so my legs were tired from all the steep hills.

Morning preparation - I was feeling a bit wobbly - a sure sign not to embark on a big run - and I only ate a small bowl of porridge (although it was with blueberries and honey), no toast. And then I set off with a tiny running bottle filled with lucozade and forgot my gels....and consequently suffered dehydration and glycogen depletion. 

Actual run - it was very, very windy, grotty weather and I set off at breakneck speed with the wind behind me. By mile 4 I felt like giving up but I persevered and then turned round to run back after 10 miles - into the wind and feeling exhausted. At mile 16 I started to feel dizzy and a bit disorientated; I stopped and sat down for a while and felt sorry for myself and then struggled back home, running/walking.

" 20 miles strong"..."how to prepare well for a long training run"

Preparation - I realised my error as soon as I returned from my failure of a run and immediately got some fast-acting carbohydrate down me - a lucozade gel and a sports drink, a peanut butter sandwich and some rice pudding which was in the fridge. I spent the next couple of days really making sure that I was well-hydrated all the time.

Night before - a quiet night with the kids and a delicious bowl of spaghetti with mussels (click for recipe) which is a great meal for endurance - high in low G.I. carbohydrate and brimming with vitamins, iron and protein. Breakfast was a decent-sized bowl of unrefined porridge with forest fruits and walnuts, followed by a slice of homemade wholemeal toast and honey.

Actual run - it was a beautiful day, sunny, warm and not too windy. I started off at a very easy pace and gradually increased this pace over the 20 miles - start easy, finish strong is what the experts say and they are right! We took plenty of water and popped a lucozade gel every 30 minutes. This worked brilliantly for me.

Post run - At about mile 12, I started to dream of pancakes. It just had to be pancakes with ham and cheese, (I often dream up recipes when I'm running! - click for recipe). These pancakes are not only delicious but tick those post run nutrition boxes - protein, salt, minerals, carbs. It really helps recovery if you eat within about 15 minutes of completing any endurance exercise as 

this is when the muscles are at their most receptive.  I knew there was some pancake mixture already waiting as the kids had been feasting on them as we left the house, so as soon as we walked in the door, I started to cook and we were replenishing all that depleted glycogen within 5-10 minutes of finishing our run. Perfect!

1 comment:

Jeff P said...

I CAN SO SYMPATHIZE HERE! I was scheduled for a 12 mile run earlier this week. I stopped after 5 due to lack of hydration, heat and a will to die. I got home very disappointed. But when I learned the next morning it would be 23 degrees less, I made a plan and got my 12 miles kicked back the next morning. They could have been stronger miles were it not for the efforts the previous day, mind you. But I got'er done, just as you did.
Great tips!