5 Weeks to the NYC Marathon: A Machine Fueled by Brown Rice

08/10/2010 § Leave a comment

Goal last week: 28 miles (5 miles, 20 miles, 3 miles)

Actual mileage: 28 miles (5 miles, 3 miles, 20 miles)

Goal this week: 28 miles (3 miles, 5 miles, 20 miles)

After having a bad few runs over the last two weeks, due to various factors, I found myself having a renewed sense of commitment to my training program.  I only have 5 weeks left!  I can’t believe it!  Just kidding, I definitely can.  I have been in training for over a year at this point and while I am thrilled at my progress and am proud of my accomplishments and even consider myself a runner now, I am definitely looking forward to the time when I can run as much as I want, whenever I want.  I’m looking forward to doing fun runs with my friends with lots of conversation and catching up and being able to have a normal nightlife where I don’t have to be worried about what I am drinking and how early I have to be up the following morning.

Don’t get me wrong though, I am definitely looking forward to this marathon.  26.2 miles.  I mean, really — if you had told me last year that I would be gearing up for a 26.2 mile run this November, I would have laughed my ass off.  Seriously.  I actually used to make fun of my old roommate for going to the gym every now and then.  Now, I go more than she does (and she makes fun of me, of course).  It is really amazing what I have discovered I can make my body do, with a little bit of effort and discipline.  And spandex.

More after the jump…

I had a great week and a great long run.  I really owe the increase in my stamina to changing my diet slightly.  I realized that if I am running 20 miles at a time, my body really needs a good source of fuel and I can’t get that fuel simply by having a plate of pasta the night before the run – I need to be eating a good amount of carbs throughout the week to build up my stores.  I can’t just have my regular salads and expect to have enough energy.  So lately, I have been eating a lot of brown rice, steamed veggies and protein.  I’ve also added in a second breakfast of oatmeal and chopped banana and made an effort to increase my salt intake.  The difference in the way I feel this week, especially near the end of my long runs, is vast.  So for the next 5 weeks, I am a machine fueled by brown rice.

Also, I wanted to mention that my long run was rather eventful!  Aside from seeing Al Roker jogging, and the largest rat of my life (he wasn’t jogging), I also got hit by a cyclist.  Luckily, she really just scared me and kind of shoved me forward a bit before she spun out and fell off her bike — served her right! — I didn’t get hurt and she was completely in the wrong lane going the wrong direction.

Tip #9: Race Food!

Different from what I eat during the week before my long run, is the food I eat during my long run.  When I started running, I didn’t like to eat while I ran, and when I was sticking to runs that were generally under 10 miles, this was fine.  But as I racked up the miles I realized that I needed to figure out what worked for me.

After seeing — and being repulsed — by what GU and Shot Bloks looked like, I decided to try out some of the gummy kind of chews and settled on Sport Beans.

Exactly like jelly beans — actually made by Jelly Belly — but slightly larger and softer, the beans come in a variety of different flavors and can either come with caffeine or without.  My favorites were the watermelon.  However, I quickly realized that I didn’t like chewing them as I ran.  Instead, I would take two or three at a time and kind of hold them in my cheek until they got soft enough for me to swallow.  This would be okay if I was only doing a half marathon and didn’t need that big of a boost, but when I am running longer distances, I need to be able to quickly take down more calories than that.  I also didn’t like all of the crazy ingredients that they jelly beans had in them.  It didn’t jive very well with my efforts to eat clean.  So I did a bit of researching.  I wanted something as natural as possible.  After debating on running with a few LUNA bars instead, I came to realize that they also made sports supplements.  And the best part?  They are made specifically for women.

Enter: LUNA Sport Moons.

LUNA Sport Moons are the first organic electrolyte chew designed for women.  As far as consistency, they are larger than the beans but softer, and shaped like a crescent moon.  They are kind of reminiscent of the fruit snacks I used to covet in my friends’ lunchboxes as a child (my mom didn’t really go for trendy fruit snacks, we got actual fruit).  The taste was okay — I was only able to find the blueberry flavor, and I suspect that I would have preferred the watermelon — but I still was not satisfied.  Even though I had found something organic and designed for a woman’s body, I still couldn’t get past the chewing while running part.  Finding nothing made by LUNA that I liked, I took a look at what the parent company — Clif Bar & Co — had to offer.

Enter: Clif Shot Energy Gels

I am in love with the Clif Shot Energy Gel.  While not designed specifically for women, I am very happy with the fact that these supplements are 90% organic, vegan-friendly and still manage to taste pretty good.  I also like how they have varying amounts of caffeine, so you can dose yourself as needed.  The “Double Expresso” carries a whopping 100 mg of caffeine, and while I have found that it can provide an awesome boost of energy, I know that I can’t just continuously dose myself with that much caffeine and not wig out.  Usually I switch between Vanilla (no caffeine), Strawberry (25 mg caffeine), Mocha (50 mg caffeine) and the Double Expresso, depending on how I feel.

Because it’s a gel, there is no chewing involved, and while I can’t say that I love the consistency of the Shot — it’s like a really sticky paste — I do prefer it to other brands I have tried.  Usually I try to polish them off in two swallows followed up with a few big swigs of water (essential, because it makes it easier on the stomach).  I also like how the tab you rip to open the packet stays connected to the packet itself, so there is less trash floating about.  It’s just a smart idea.

So, my tip is this – if you are running long distances and need to look into energy supplements, try a lot of different kinds!  Figure out what kind of flavors and consistencies you like by practicing on your training runs, and have a system down before race day.  Don’t go trying the random stuff handed out on the side of the road or at fueling stations if you haven’t already been practicing with it.  You want to figure this out in advance so there is nothing to worry about on race day.

Happy running!

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