Last week was HUGE! 3 15-minute segments – that is fantastic. We are SO proud of all of you. And THANK YOU to Clay and all of you for the amazing lunch and delicious chocolates. It was so special to be able to socialize not wearing our running clothes!
This week, we are keeping it steady with the same 15 minute segments. For those of you going away for the ASL break, just do your best to get in the runs. Remember, beginning this week, the Tuesday run is now a total of 45 minutes exercise time and your weekend run should be 30-35 minutes total. Break it up with walk/runs however feels most comfortable to you.
And now for the lengthy part of the email. Feel free to skim or skip it – I know it is quite verbose!
Let’s start with protein because that is probably the most critical component as you increase exercise intensity or duration. When you run, you create tiny tears in your muscle fibers and protein is required to repair that damage. For female long-distance runners, experts suggest taking in about 90g a day (or 1.6-1.8g/kg of body weight). That’s a lot of protein – it takes a concerted effort to get there and at our level, we don’t need that much. Make it “clean” protein when possible – lean meats, fish, nuts, yogurt, lentils/pulses and low-fat milk (this is the one low-fat product that most nutritionists agree is fine). Most professional runners eat salmon like crazy – I’ve never heard a nutritionist say that salmon is THAT much better than other fish, but a lot of very experienced runners sing its praises.
A lot of trainers will encourage you to increase your carb intake, but I don’t fully agree (particularly for our type of running). It may be necessary for athletes training at extemely high intensity zones, but that’s not what we’re doing. Bottomline…. we are trying to teach our bodies to use fat as fuel. Fat is easier to access as an energy source and requires less fine-tuning in terms of timing carb intake during exercise. Our bodies have about 1000-1200 “easy access” calories available which will get most ladies about 10-11 miles (depending on their weight and fitness level). After that we will use gels (carbs) to fuel that last 2-3 miles of a half-marathon. If you increase your carb intake on a daily basis, then your body starts expecting a constant feed of carb fuel and may begin to resist going to fat as a fuel source. Your body needs carbs so don’t completely cut them out – just choose clean carbs, complex when possible, ie. grains, wholewheat products, basmati rice (the longer the grain the better – long grain basmati is better for you than even brown rice). Bread is not evil, just don’t rely on it as your major carb source. Sourdough bread is better for you (usually made with naturally occuring yeast) than traditional loaves.
Fat is necessary in our diets. I would make a nutritionist cringe by explaining it so simply, but basically fat creates a slower release of energy/fuel. It’s as though you’ve taken a time release medication rather than a typical dose when you combine a bit of fat with your other nutrition sources. Fat from avocados, olive oil, nuts, etc is obviously better for you than fat in brownies, cookies, etc (sorry about that!!!). Some current research is suggesting it is actually it’s the sugar in those products rather than the saturated fat that is causing a big problem with obesity, diabetes and heart disease. We can let the scientists battle that out – for us, just try to get your fat from more natural foods.
With all nutrition, the closer you can get to whole food, the better (i.e., apples are better than applesauce, whole vegetables are better than pre-packaged ones). Basically, the closer your food looks to how you would find it “in-situ”, the better. That concept is one thing on which all nutritionists/dietitians seem to agree.
Before you run, I would suggest the following:
- 50g carbohydrates
- 5g protein
- 2-3g fat
That could be a half bagel with cream cheese, yogurt with nuts (if the nuts don’t upset your stomach), a smoothie, or try oatmeal/porridge – it wins the prize for a near-perfect carb/protein/fat mix for pre-run. Most people find simpler carbs work better before a run than complex carbs as they are more easily digested (so a plain bagel instead of a wholegrain/seeded bagel). Ideally, eat the pre-run meal 90 minutes before running. Sometimes that is just not possible, so the closer to the run that you eat, the more you should consider simplier carbs for easier digestion. The latest research on coffee/caffeine pre-exercise, suggest there is no impact on performance, but a huge impact on perceived exertion. This is interesting to me – basically these new studies conclude that given two athletes who have eaten the exact same thing, and are asked to perform at the exact same level, and who have the exact same result feel differently about how hard the session was. The one who has caffeine in their system will feel it was easier – their “perception of exertion” is lower.
Within 30 minutes after you run, I would suggest the following:
- 50g carbohydrates
- 10g protein
- 2g fat
The protein piece is critical as is the timing of this food. Again, a nutritionist/scientist would cringe at how I try to explain this, but here we go… when you exercise your muscles are agitated/traumatized. The cell membranes temporarily become more porous (instead of a wall, it’s more like a mesh allowing the flow of nutrients easy passage). Some post-run ideas would be a latte and yogurt, a latte and a piece of fruit or a latte and half a skinny muffin. I’ve attached the Starbucks nutritional info to make this easier for you. Basically a tall, skinny latte has 14g of carbs, 10g of protein and 0g fat – so you’re looking for another 35g of carbs in addition to the latte. All of this pre/post run info would apply to longer runs and what qualifies as a long run is different from runner to runner. You are probably just fine eating whatever you normally consume until about mid-end January when our runs lengthen.
We’re really moving along now in our training and you guys are all doing AMAZING! Last week was another jump and you all took it in stride. We will be going up a bit more this week but we will hold the course for next week for Thanksgiving week.
This is a very long email, sorry. But it has important information so please do your best to read it.
We have reached a turning point in our training with this coming week’s run. We will be running 3 15-minute segments with 3 minutes of walking in between. Think about that – remember running 60 seconds those first weeks and we all thought we were going to die. Then two minutes…. well, it might as well have been a lifetime. We know it’s not easy – learning to run is challenging, but think of where you’ve come from. We’re putting in an hour of total time now – it’s amazing what you’re doing. We are at a critical point in our training where the routine begins to change… so I’ll just jump right in and start explaining.
- 3 runs a week? If you are aiming to do the half-marathon in the spring, you should be adding a third run each week if you haven’t already. It will make the race a lot easier if you can get in a third run at least from time to time. Let’s be clear – it’s never easy running 13.1 miles, but the more miles you’ve put in, the more comfortable your body will be running that distance.
- Varying each run – This is the good news….. We have progressed to the point where our runs/routes will begin to vary. Next Tuesday 21 November (or whichever day you are doing your second run) you will no longer simply repeat the route we did together the previous Thursday. After this week, you will be doing one long run with your coaches on Thursdays, one medium run and for the third weekly run, you will do a short run. The medium run (beginning Tuesday 21 Nov) will be 45 minutes total exercise time. Feel free to break that up into whatever intervals you are comfortable with. If you’re not sure where to start, you could try doing a 5 minute warm-up walk followed by three 12 minute jogging intervals separated by 2 minute walking breaks. The third run should be 30-35 minutes total exercise time. This also can be broken down into whatever length intervals make you happy. A place to start may be…. 5 minute warm-up walk followed by three 8-9 minute intervals separated by 2 minute walks. Particularly for this 30-35 minute session, some of you may be interested in doing a walking warm-up then just jogging slowly until you feel you need a break. Then walk for a couple of minutes and jog some more until you reach the 30-35 minute total time. If you want to try that, here are a few tips. First of all, run SLOW, like what we do on Thursdays. Second, don’t look at your watch. Do your 5 min warm-up then start jogging. Look around, watch the people on the streets or in the park, think about anything but running, notice the yellow/gold/red leaves, make a grocery list in your mind, think about what book you want to read next or where you want to go on holiday…. anything but running. When you’ve had enough, then check your watch to see how much time you did, take a walking break and carry on. You may just amaze yourself. On these additional runs, go wherever you want. You know how to get to Hyde Park, Regent’s Park is right there, and access to the canal is super easy. We’ll help you come up with some other ideas if those routes get boring.
- Consistent Training – For just a minute here we’re going to be a little bit more tough than usual. These Thursday long runs are getting more and more important. If there is any way you can get there, please join us. We know some of you have things you have committed to ages ago and we get it. Until now it has not been a problem because we are simply repeating the Thursday run on the following Tuesday. We’re not asking you to cancel travel plans or quit courses. We are all busy and there are always weeks here and there when we can’t run. Not a problem! The bottom line is this… if you cannot make the majority of the Thursday runs, particularly in the new year, but truly even throughout December, it will be very difficult for you to contemplate doing a half-marathon. We’re not trying to be mean or demanding or threatening, just realistic. As our Thursday long run lengthens, you will want and need help, advice, pacing and someone to complain to. We will be discussing fueling/hydration and trying out different options in that regard. Those are things we need to learn/practice together – it’s not the same as reading it in an email. The other one or two runs each week are much, much less important. That’s the end of that speech….. next topic!
- What’s your pace? We are beginning to settle into pace groups. This is natural and is not a reflection of your fitness level. We need to each find the pace that feels comfortable. Some of you have longer strides, some take smaller steps, some of you have long legs, some of you are tiny and have to take two steps to every one stride of a taller runner. It’s not only down to height – some tall people have a natural up and down movement with less forward propulsion. Most runners say that if they are asked to adjust their natural pace, things start hurting so it is important to find your natural speed. We need to start thinking about where in the group you are pace-wise. For the race, we will divide ourselves up based on these training paces so everyone will have a group and a trainer to run with. During our training runs start trying to identify others in the group who are running your pace. Who do you seem to naturally fall in sync with? You probably have noticed that we don’t talk about pace in terms of numbers or precise times in this group. It’s not important to have a specific number – it is important to know what feels comfortable to you…. not too fast, not too slow, but just right!
- Hydration – As our runs get longer, we need to start taking in fluids while we’re running. Hydration requirements vary vastly from runner to runner, but experts suggest targeting about 500ml of fluid for each hour of exercise. Our needs are probably less than that as we are operating at a lower intensity level doing long distance training. You may consider buying a belt that holds little bottles, a tiny camelback (one that sits very high up on your back), or one of those bottles that slips over your hand. I wouldn’t recommend a large backpack – it changes your gait. This need to carry water applies only to your weekly long run. You are fine running 30-45 minutes if you drink before and after your session.
I understand that you have no point of reference, so you have no idea how well you are doing. We’re running 4 miles now, over and over again. I know it’s not easy, but you are doing it. You have the worst of it behind you. It’s A LOT harder going from 0 running minutes to 1 running minute, or from 1 to 2 minutes – those are difficult beyond belief. In the next few weeks, we are transitioning into straight running, no designated walking breaks. That may sound scary, but think about where we run. Even though I say we are running 50 or 60 minutes non-stop, there will be street crossings. You will learn to pray for the little “red-man light”. My message is that you can do this. You have each other to lean on and all of your coaches to help out however we can.
So… on to this week! Here is the route for the week
Head to Regent’s Park via Charlbert. Cross the Outer Circle, enter Regent’s, and stay right, running past the first bridge and then crossing the second one. Take a left on the Inner Circle and continue until York Bridge. Go left onto York Bridge and head out of the park, crossing Marylebone Road. Go left on Marylebone then right on Marylebone High Street which becomes Thayer. Take a right on Hinde Street and a right on Manchester Square. Run past the Wallace Collection and left on George Street to Seymour Place. Go right on Seymour Place, cross Marylebone Road, and take Lisson Grove/Grove End back to Circus. Take a right on Circus to end at Barclays.