Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Notes from 50k Training so far

I definitely can't be classified as an ultrarunner and even after race day I will still be VERY green around the ears with the whole marathon+ distance, but in my training cycle I've started to learn a few things that make it a little different. Some of these items may be obvious to you and other items are more individual, but either way, there are things to change and adjustments to be made before I run my first 50k at the end of the month.
1. Gear: For the most part I loved my entire gear/outfit combo at Troop Trot. I frequently run in my hydration pack,  a Nathan Intensity Race Vest for Women, and I love the way it fits. I've never chaffed or had it bounce around. It also has several pockets and a pouch for fuel, keys, phone, etc.
The obvious shortcoming in my gear during the race was my trail shoes.  I had never run longer than 10 miles in them and, as I realized post-race, they were half a size too small. I had changed my shoe size in road sneakers after my previous toe bleeding events, but forgot to in trail shoes. This is the one and only gear item I need to change (and it's a biggie).
Hopefully these workout a little better.
2. Fuel: I am a deep believer that fueling is a very individual thing. What works for a lot of people, doesn't always work for me. That said, my road fueling strategy isn't adequate for the trail/ultra world. Typically on long road runs, I fuel every ~5 miles with Island Boost which works out to about every 45 minutes on average. While I tried to follow this plan for the Troop Trot, 5 miles takes a whole lot longer on the trails, so I need to be fueling by time, not distance (duh). 
In addition, I need to take in a few more solids just to prevent the sloshy feeling late in the race.  One thing I noticed at Troop Trot, is that several people brought their own coolers and left them at the start/finish.  Since it was a loop course, they could periodically access them. Though the course was well aided and bringing extra stuff was not required, it did seem like having a stash of things that might not be at aid stations could be super handy in the late miles. Snakebite is also a triple loop, so I am currently coming up with my list of odd items I want in my lunch box for those late race blues. Safe to say magical coke (soda, not drugs) with be on the list.

3. Hydration: While I feel like I've been hydrating fairly well on my long and hot days, there have been a few runs where it's been a challenge, but I've found a few things to make it easier. Having cold and even ice water in my hydration pack makes me drink more. After a few runs where I had filled my pack the night before and been unexcited to drink the tepid water, I've learned that adding ice makes it all go down better.
One thing that probably needs improvement on super hot days is my salt intake. I typically run with electrolytes in my hydration pack, but on super hot days when I can't stop sweating, I've noticed some dragginess in late miles and I need to boost my salts. I'm thinking about trying S-Caps or salt tabs to help and pre-loading with salts before the race.

4. It's not all about the miles: A hallmark of ultratraining is running on tired legs. This includes back to back efforts on the weekends and more weekly miles. But I've come to realize as I've been training in peak summer heat, it's not all about the miles. While it is vital that you are running mileage similar to marathon training, time on your feet and in the heat is just as important. I've been working to balance outdoor sweatfest workouts with indoor mileage based workouts. Obviously, this would be different if my goal was to win the race and in that case I would be focused on mileage and pace, but for now I am focused on running at least a certain amount of time with pace not being the focus.

What is your favorite thing that you've ever had at an aid station or on a run? Do you use salt tabs or pre-load with salt?

12 comments:

  1. It's funny how your shoe size can change after you start running and how important it is to have the right size for longer runs. Glad you got some new shoes that fit and that should give you plenty of cushioning for your run. I've just swallowed some salt from a packet I got at a fast food restaurant before particularly hot half marathons and that worked for me, but that's obviously a much shorter distance than what you'll be doing. Good luck with all your preparations!

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    1. Thanks Beth! I've gone up 3 shoe size since my first marathon! I wonder if they are still growing!

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  2. I've only run one ultra, but when I did I found that some foods (cookies, chips, pretzels) felt too dry in my mouth when I was racing. That's why I liked gels and drinks most of all. Plus, Coke must be cold. I couldn't drink the warm Coke that was offered. (Maybe they ran out of ice.)

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    1. Agreed, cold stuff really makes all the difference in the heat. I might pack some salty stuff just incase, but eating doesn't always appeal to me. Maybe grapes will work.

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  3. For my ultra, I carried some sour patch gummies. Another blogger called them magic candy, and it's true! I really noticed a difference in my energy levels after eating some. I didn't need any extra food, because the aid stations had everything I could imagine. But I think it's a great idea if there is something you know you'll want that they don't have!
    I didn't use salt tabs, but I think they would've been good, and I'll do that next time. My fave item at an aid station is m&m's!

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    1. Thanks Katie! Gummy candies are at the top of my list. I currently can't decide between swedish fish and mike & Ikes (such tough decisions). I expect the stations to be very well stocked, so the bag would just be 'in case'.

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  4. I hate salt and usually keep it to a very minimum in my diet but lately I've been sweating a ton during my training and I know I need it. I've been trying to eat more salty foods like pretzels and tortilla chips, I don't know if I really need to or if it's making a difference though. I also drink a TON of Nuun, I'm addicted to it! I think during my marathon I'm just going to pack every food I might possibly want and make my parents keep it with them, because the way the course is set up I'll pass them a few times and can get fuel from them if needed. I can't wait to hear how your race goes at the end of the month!

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    1. I don't eat a ton of salt in my diet either, but I'm thinking of upping it the day before the race (green light to eat a lot of chips?). I do run with NUUN in my pack, but some of our really humid days, it just hasn't been enough. It's always awesome to have superfans on the course to cheer and manage supplies!

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  5. Hope your new trail shoes will be a better fit.

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    1. So far, so good! Fingers crossed it stays that way.

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  6. My shoe size has increased as well! I sure hope the new shoes are a little kinder on the toes. These are truly great tips for anyone planning longer distances. Well done :) You are well prepared.

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    1. Thanks Karen! Honestly, I am still a bit nervous. Working on the mental training for the next few weeks! :)

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