This week marks the first peak week in this marathon cycle, my total distance after today’s 30 km long run is around 83 km’s. So far things are going really well. I’m feeling way less beat up than I was at this point in my Seattle marathon cycle. I’m doing a bit of experimenting with my long run fueling also. For the Seattle marathon, I followed the traditional method of taking gels every 45 minutes or so during all my long runs. It went well, and I think that because I hadn’t run those type of distances in a few years I needed the fuel mentally for sure, and also physically. This time around, I’ve read a bit about training with a glucose deficit to encourage your body to become more efficient in fat burning. I decided to just wing it and see how I feel with less fuel.
So far it’s gone well. I’ve run long runs up to 30 km’s today without any additional fuel. For one of my long runs I did have some Gu Brew in my water bottles which had some carbs in it. My last two long runs have been 28 and 30 km’s long and I’ve just used Nuun in my water bottles, which has 6 calories per tablet, and electrolytes. I have carried gels with me just in case I’ve felt a ‘low’ and needed the boost, but even though my legs have been tired for the last few km’s I haven’t felt that ‘low’ feeling like I’ve needed the fuel.
According to THIS McMillan article, after you run for 90-120 minutes your carbohydrate stores are lowered, and if you run 30-60 minutes after this point without taking in carbohydrates you are stimulating your body to store more muscle glycogen for future runs (and races). He also talks about not eating any carbohydrates immediately before these long runs. I have not done this. I feel like going without fuel during the run is a big jump in the challenge on these runs, and don’t want to go too far this first time around.
It’s important to note that McMillan calls this the “icing on the cake”. He does not recommend withholding carbs for runs longer than 3.5 hours, and recommends doing this only if you feel good and it doesn’t push you over the line in making a disastrous failure of a long run. I also think that I find this kind of training easier than some people might. I naturally have very stable blood sugar, at least in comparison with some other runners I know. For example, my husband needs to eat a certain ratio of foods before he runs, especially in the morning, or he will have what he calls a ‘blood sugar low’ and feel shaky and unwell. I, on the other hand, can jump out of bed, without eating, and go run for an hour no problem.
I’m planning to do at least one of my remaining 2 32km (20 miler) long runs with a more traditional fueling strategy so that I can do a rehearsal for the race. I will also continue to carry gels with me on the other run just in case I feel like I need something. It helps also, that I really don’t like gels, so I am pretty happy to give up eating them! Plus, I keep thinking of how much money I’m saving not buying those pesky things 🙂
How about you, have you ever trained like this? What do you use to fuel your long runs?
Also, have you donated to The Underwear Affair, and entered my draw? I have some great prizes, if you’ve already entered, you can donate another $20 for another entry! Here’s the link to that post.