Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Starting Down the Home Stretch

I spent my evening trying to keep up with the folks in my track club as we ran 500 yard repeats. Hmm. I seem to have lost some speed in the past few weeks (okay okay - I never had speed to begin with). I can tell you that four 500s had me sucking some serious wind! I did a five mile warm up to start an a mile warm down afterwards, for a total of 7 miles. I have no other stats because I got the old "Batteries are Low" message from the Garmin. And unlike lindsay's experience last week, when a 305 tells you that your batteries are low, they are low. Like non-existent. Sure enough, half a mile from the start, the Garmin shut down for the day. Sigh.

To continue on yesterday's main topic - I think I've settled on a fueling strategy to take me through Long Beach. So far I've been following a long run fueling routine on runs over 16 miles that seems to be working. The routine consists of a Homer Simpson breakfast (mmmm! donuts!), a gel every hour on the run and a snack of a Clif Bar about half way through. This works out to about 500 calories before the run, then 100 calories per gel, and 240 calories for the Clif Bar. These seem to power me through the run in decent shape - in fact my last twenty miler went incredibly well following this plan.

But, there are a couple of differences between a training run and marathon day. I *hope* that I'll be running at a pace 30 seconds to a minute faster than a training run, which means a few more calories and a lot more sweat. I've been picking the brain of an endurance athlete friend of mine. She turned me onto the Hammer Nutrition website, where I found this gem of an article that discusses the whole caloric intake issue. It is rather eye opening - that's for sure.

Evidently at anything greater than 75% - 85% effort, the human body does not respond kindly to an intake of more than 4.0 to 4.5 calories per minute - about 250 calories per hour. Take in more than that and the calories are not processed. This leads to a phenomenon called "gastric emptying". And there are only two ways the stuff can come out. Uh. Yeah.

The article also points out that if you take in too many calories, you block your body's attempt to utilize fatty acids as an energy source. This all means that there is a balancing point where take in too few calories and you bonk, take in too many calories and bonk. Not to mention the humiliation of "gastric emptying".

The updated fueling strategy? The Homer Simpson breakfast is still in. The Clif Bar is out. And at 100 calories per packet, I will take a gel every 30 minutes during the run. We'll see how my body reacts to 200 calories per hour in gel form. I'm not anticipating any issues....

Which leaves the final point - electrolyte replacement. I definitely had cramping issues in San Diego. Not to mention the issues I had on my recent climb of Mt. Whitney. By the time I did anything about the cramping at RnR it was too late. But, electrolyte replacement made a world of difference on Whitney. So - it's pretty clear to me that the electrolytes need to be dealt with. I'll have to stay away from the replacement drinks like Gatorade, etc. After all, my gel strategy will be providing calories and sugars/carbs. So that means I just want to replace the electrolytes. Which means I will be relying on Endurolyte. I have purchased the powder, which I will add to my water on my fuel belt. The powder makes the water taste a little salty, but I didn't have any problem downing it after some recent runs.

Putting it all together, here is what I'm going to do starting this weekend:
(1) Carry two gels per hour of running. For this weekend that means about 6 gels. For marathon weekend that means about 10.
(2) Carry Endurolyte mixed with water on my fuel belt. Each 10 ounce water bottle will contain 2 doses. For this weekend I'll carry two bottles of electrolytes and two bottles of plain water. For marathon day, I'll carry 4 bottles of electrolytes and rely on water stations for water.

So - Saturday here I come! I have a couple of weeks to tweak the equation and get it right. If I do it right, I won't end up looking like death again. Of course, if don't get it right, I'll be able to tell you all about the inside of a porta potty.


  1. Sounds like a plan Glenn. Just as an FYI (you may already know this) they have Endurolyte capsules (ECaps) too. I don't use a water belt so I just tape the ECaps to my gels. I don't drink sports drinks b/c the hurt my stomach but the ECaps have worked out nicely thus far.

  2. I love that my traffic feed says DELHI! WOOT~ SO close now Glenn!!!

  3. Sounds like you've got the plan tried and tested for the most part. You could always go with the Lance Armstrong NYC method of downing a gel every 12 minutes, but then you'd probably have to describe inside of a port-a-potty for us.

    I've seen the inside of one. There's a lot of "gastric emptying". It's not the visual that gets you. :).

  4. I would rather have a donut every 30 min. than gels.:)

    The only gel or gu's I like is Hammer Gel Banana flavor. However, even after downing one or two of those in a long training run - no more. Not sure why I just cannot do more than two a run. So, I also take along dried mango strips. Somtimes a couple of small bags of planter peanuts hits the spot as well, or peanut m&m's.

    The doc at the med tent after the Disney Half told me we should be consuming a 20 0z water bottle to every 20 oz. of powerade/gatorade. Not sure how that translates to a formula with enduralyte?

    You will do well. Keep kickin!

  5. The best part about the Garmin dying is that you get to make up your splits. So you probably were FLYING in the 500s instead of sucking wind, right? ;)

  6. That's exactly my plan too! One gel every 30 minutes. Hope it works as well for you as it has for me.

  7. Great post. I take the Hammer Endurolyte pills before and during my faster and longer runs. They work very well! I also like the Hammer Banana gels...keep up the great work!

  8. terrific. too few, bonk. too many, bonk. great! haha.

    i'm definitely glad my battery lasts longer than yours. i would not have made it 22 miles without dear garmin.

    hope you figure out your routine quickly so there's more time to chill out before the race :)

  9. If you like the Hammer products, and buy from their website, they'll start sending you their newsletter, which usually has some really good advice for people training for races like you do.

    Oh, and if you haven't bought from them before, if you go through the link on my blog, they'll give you 15% off of the first order. (and they usually give you lots of samples too...)