I ran a half marathon this weekend.

Just the distance, not a race. This was my first full distance practice run for my race in May. The picture to the left is of me waving towards my balcony!

I tried some new things with mixed results:

1. I tried to concentrate on my running form. I was doing great until the last 10% of my run, when I really started to feel it in the back of my legs: calves, hamstrings, and glutes. This was different than the burning in my quads that I normally feel. However, I knew this meant that I was keeping good form. Yay!

2. I drank a concoction that my nutritionist wrote out for my long runs. Here is what my requirements came out to for 13.1 miles:

Carbohydrates (Gatorade powder) – 90 g
Branch Chain Amino Acids (powder form) – 6 g
Protein (powder) – 20 g
Water – 1.8 liters (for a run at 0 degrees, cool temperature)

Before this I was only drinking water. The change worked well performance-wise; however, immediately after my run I experience some nausea for about 10 minutes. It was minor and it stopped as soon as I ate something. I’m thinking that maybe my body just needs to get used to all those powders. Or it could have been that I haven’t covered that distance in a while. Or I just really needed to eat. We’ll see if it happens on my next run.

3. I measured my hydration requirements. That is how I came up with the 1.8 liters above. However, I ran in a very cool 0 degrees. I wore a very thin under layer and t-shirt, so I didn’t sweat much. My hydration requirements are going to dramatically increase as the weather gets warmer so I will have to test it again. You can test your own hydration requirements by following these guidelines.

I am going to have to re-think my entire hydration strategy. I am currently using a Running Room fuel belt. It looks like this:

For me to carry around the water I need, I would have to carry about 12 of those little bottles. For a full marathon, I need 24. And that’s at 0 degrees. During races they have water stations, but during training I’m in trouble. I’m not sure what solution I’ll end up with but I plan to start looking into some camel packs:

Generally I felt good after my run. I attribute this to faithfully following the three tips below:

WHAT I DO IMMEDIATELY AFTER A RUN

1. EAT. The body needs carbs and protein within 20 minutes of any hard workout. That is why in a race volunteers are trying to stuff bagels and bananas down your throat immediately after you cross the finish line. Eat them. If you’re training by yourself, bring food with you or make sure you can buy something right away.

On Friday I wrote about carbohydrates. This is one of the times that your body needs simple carbs. After a workout I find that for me it is best to consume these carbs in the form of fruit. If I go to they gym I’ll bring a piece of fruit and some protein-powdered water. Otherwise I’ll buy a protein shake with fruit in it. I usually get this one.

If the body does not receive carbohydrates immediately after training, it starts to eat its own muscle mass. Muscle, NOT fat will disappear. This is because after a workout the glycogen in our muscles is depleted (Glycogen is a form of glucose that your body makes for energy. Glucose = carbohydrate). If the body can’t find the carbs it needs to restore its glycogen levels, it will get them from consuming muscle mass. You would still lose weight (because muscle is heavier than fat), but you will be exhausted, unhealthy, and miserable. Even if your sole concern is weight loss, it is important to remember that one inactive pound of fat on your body burns about five calories an hour vs one pound of muscle which burns 30-50 calories.

The protein is for rebuilding muscle tissue. When you exercise, you are actually creating tiny, microscopic tears in your muscles. Your body uses protein to patch up these tears, giving you that muscle growth. No protein = no repair. You won’t build muscle and you’re wasting your time. On top of that, you’ll be very sore.

After a workout I consume about 22 grams of protein (some males who lift heavy weights consume as much as 40). Chocolate milk is said to be a good recovery drink, but read the label first – it doesn’t always have enough protein (as is the case with a lot of recovery drinks).

2. STRETCH. Long and deeply. Just as much, if not more than before my workout. After a long run my muscles will try to cramp up. If you allow them to, I may find yourself injured or unable to walk. Stretching goes a long way to reduce injuries in the long-term and help your muscles recover faster. (Check back for a future post about stretches for runners.)

3. REST. I don’t attempt to run again the day after a long run, or the day before. Muscles need about 48 hours of rest to fully recover and heal themselves. The risk of over-training is just as bad as under-training and often directly results in injury.

THIS WEEK!

  • My mother-in-law emailed me an archived Money Sense article about organic food over the weekend. It has actually taken me some time and research over the past year and a half to get to the bottom of the whole organic thing and how it should apply to my life. There’s a lot of information out there but it’s almost all confusing. I will clarify a lot of it in a reasonable, condensed upcoming blog post.
  • I have strength training on Monday and Wednesday. My trainer has started focusing a lot more on my upper body so that my legs are fresh for long training runs on Tuesday and Thursday. She swears she sees definition on my back and arms. It turns out she’s right. You can see pictures here.
  • I’m attempting to put together an article on running for publication, but I don’t know yet if it will be picked up. I’ll keep you posted.
  • Emma came over this weekend and we had a good time. I still haven’t had a chance to post the comment I promised over the weekend – it just keeps getting longer. It’s the size of an entire blog post now, but I think it’s important because it contains a lot of excellent resources and advice that I had to discover the hard way. I’m sure it will help to a lot of people who have come out and told me that they also have friends and family who cut (and are equally clueless about how to help them). I will have it posted this week.
  • I have my first nutrition test on Tuesday. Then on Thursday I have to give a presentation on glutathionine (it’s a protein – an amino acid to be exact). Wish me luck!
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