Stress, facial tics and gels
Turns out training for a marathon is quite stressful. I find myself thinking about it pretty much all the time and even dreaming about it. When I think about how I will feel the morning of the race I feel a sickening panic rise within me and I have to quickly dismiss it from my mind. My friend suggested I think of something more stressful I have had to do and then the marathon won’t seem as daunting. I was trying to think of something when in steps my daughter Lily.
This is Lily, she is 11 and an aspiring model. Modelling wouldn’t be my choice of career for her and something I have tried to discourage her from. But Lily is a nagger on the grandest scale. When she wants something she will ask and ask in her broken record, drive you mad style until you give in! Anyway her first casting for a TV ad was last week. The catch was they needed a mother as well so I had to audition too. We drove to Sydney and lined up with all the other little girls (who looked a lot like Lily) and their very glamorous mums. I could feel the anxiety start and trickles of sweat running down my back. Eventually it was our turn. Lily got up and faced the camera doing everything she was told. I looked on and saw how shy and unsure she was compared to the other kids who had gone before her. Then it was my turn…. The anxiety I had been feeling escalated to a feeling of panic. I had to look at the camera, relax, smile, don’t smile, turn right, turn left, tilt my chin down, lift my head up, look happy, look sad, look cheeky … it went on and on. I tried to respond appropriately, smile when told to etc. But suddenly I realised I had lost voluntary control of my facial muscles! My mouth started quivering uncontrollably and my lips were bared back against my teeth. I can only imagine how horrifying the image was for the poor camera man! I just wanted the floor to open up and swallow me.
Lily calmly told me afterwards that it looked like I had tourettes, (we had watched a show the night before on tourettes and facial tics so she knew what she was talking about). It was seriously one of the most cringe worthy events of my life. Now, thanks to Lils, I had my perspective back. Face the starting line or face the camera, I will take the starting line any day!!
So perspective intact, back to the serious and complicated business of marathon training. Turns out you can’t just pull your trainers on and start running, oh no, there is a lot more to it than that. One thing me and my running buddies have to address is sports nutrition. Fuelling your body with electrolyte drinks and energy gels seems to be something you have to do to avoid hitting the dreaded wall and getting a decent finishing time. The whole gel thing is something I have been dreading as I know they can mess with your insides and give runners stomach cramps or worse. (Don’t get me started on the poo horror stories!)
According to Runners World “Guide to your First Marathon” we need to take in 45-60 grams of carbs each hour during the race. Carbs come in the form of energy gels, sports drinks or chews. These carbs should be taken every 20 minutes. So if an energy gel is typically 45g – should I take a third of it every 20 minutes? So, if that’s the case, I would need to take 4 or 5 gels to get me through a marathon, does that sound right? Then what should you drink, electrolytes or water or both. I have read that you need to drink water with the gels or they don’t absorb properly into your system. It all seems so complex!! The choice of gels seems endless as well. There are all different brands, different flavours, some with caffeine some without. I NEED HELP!!
CALLING ALL MARATHONERS PLEASE POST YOUR ADVICE ON WHAT WORKS FOR YOU AND WHAT DOESN’T!!!
26/1/2015 12:16:55 pm
Sounds like a great day modelling! I'm sure the facial tics were a great look. The best advice I can give about nutrition is to practice your nutrition well before race day. Use your weekly long runs as ‘practice race days’. Practice what you will eat on the morning of the race (raisin toast and some lollies works for me). Maybe even practice what you will have for dinner the night before. Find out what works for you. I’d use about 8 endura gels myself during a marathon (one full gel every ½ hour or so, always with water) but this is more than most people. Practice to see what works for you. Check out the course maps to see when the drink stations are and practice drink stops and nutrition accordingly. Find out what drinks/gels are on offer at the different stations so your nutrition intake at the same rate (or take your own gels on race day like I do). Also, I can’t be sure what sports drink is on offer but the Canberra marathon is partly sponsored by Hydralyte so I’m guessing that’s it (try and confirm this if you can). If so, note that this is a low carb / low energy drink so this may be something to take into account also (ie. Don’t practice with Gatorade and expect the same impact from Hydralyte). Good luck with the training!
Life Fit running girl
26/1/2015 01:37:44 pm
Thanks Richard. Do you take a gel before the race? Also what are your favourite endura flavours?
28/1/2015 04:26:41 am
I don't take gels before the race. I like the mint flavour endura gels, although the grape is ok too but it's sickeningly sweet.
26/1/2015 04:36:17 pm
This was an area that I probably didn't address adequately enough. I have started using them on my longer runs and have immediately noticed the difference. Not so much during the run, although I believe I can feel a difference. It is more so in my recovery afterwards. I feel so much better, I'm not destroyed for the rest of the day and the splitting headaches I used to get have not occurred so far. The big Km's have not really begun yet so we will wait and see. Here's hoping. Interestingly, I did not stress at all before hand and even knowing how bad I was last time I'm not feeling stressed at all. Maybe that's naive or just plain stupid. Again we'll just have to wait and see. Best of luck.
26/1/2015 05:38:23 pm
Jill I take a gatorade 30 mins pre run taking my time - def best thing for runners trots. I take a gel about 20k in I prefer GU gels I find the effort of chewing GU Gummies too much but Ali Brown take them as gels make her gag. I would generally have another gel between 30 and 35k depending on how I feel. For a marathon I would only really need 2 max three gels but the gatorade pre-race is crucial for me. Check out what the official sports drink is for your actual marathon and try to use that in training it sucks if you cant stomach the drink at the drinks station on race day, if its not a good one for you you might need more gels. ps looks like its Hydrolyte for Canberra so might need to try that. Good luck in your training. Ali, Heidi and I are in long run at the moment if you want a long and slow run did 32k yesterday - Killer!
26/1/2015 05:50:34 pm
I like endura gels, coffee flavor. It gives my a hit! Need to wash it down with water. Love this blog :)
27/1/2015 08:16:38 am
All what you have said sounds sound. The main consideration I factor in is whether you are running aerobic or anaerobic. Basically maximum aerobic HR is 180 minus your age (and below) and this will use fat as your primary fuel source, which in turn will not require you to consume as much glucose. If you are pacing purely in anaerobic, which is HR above 180 minus your age, then you will burn mostly glucose. In this case there is a crude calculation of 1.2 grams of carbohydrates/kg of body weight/hour. This is a manageable amount of gels (2/hour) and sports drink (400ml/hour/8% mix), but unless you train on this formula it will give you gastrointestinal grief!! Train on sports drink provided in race and take small continuous amounts (every 10 - 15 minutes). Set you race watch count down to this otherwise you will loose track. Try to take gels at aid stations to get rid of packaging and to wash down immediatley with water, NOT SPORTS DRINK. Don't rely on carbo loading fuel source too much. You can get through first hour of a marathon purely on sports drink and your carbo load, but don't leave it until 30K to use your gels. Start taking gels 10K into event and every 20-30 minutes there on. Keep ahead of carbo depletion. Take time when taking fuel on board to make sure you commence digestion properly from time it enters your mouth. Carrying gels can be difficult. Check out fuel belts online. I use a 'spibelt' with race number toggles and waterproofing. Check them out on Google and under wildfire sports -great company for sports products. Pre event should be consumed 2 hours prior to event and then sip water up to about 30 mins prior and then sip sports drink last 30 mins. I like porridge/sultanas/banana/honey/coffee/water as pre event meal. Most of all don't over think nutrition. Keep the plan simple, but have a plan and stick to it. Post event is critical. I us a large chocolate moove as immediate sugar/protein recovery drink. This works at finish line as we hang around for 1-2 hours waiting for people to finish. Then have a plan to get into some quality protein and fats including canned fish/avocado/chicken/egg/milk/water/water and more water. Use compression garments and put your feet up for a couple of hours post race, prior to going out to celebrate. Emotions and environment play large role as to how you will pace yourself so wear and watch your HR. Know your comfortable pace HR and dont justify going 5-10 beats/min faster because its race conditions! Your systems don't appreciate this and respond by slowing you down lots when you go over your trained exertion. Percieved exertion is important, but use biofeedback from HR monitor to help calculate how you are going as the day goes on. Most of all keep smiling all day as it makes you feel good. REmember how lucky you are to be healthy enough to do a marathon and love life all day. Good luck. Hope to see a crew at Gold Coast weekend! Cheers:)
Life Fit running girl
27/1/2015 10:31:52 am
Thanks Jamie and everyone for the great info and tips. I feel much more sure of myself now and will try it out this week!
29/1/2015 12:24:51 pm
Hi running girl, today I went on my long run. For the first time running I took a drink bottle & felt super awkward. Can you tell me what you take out with you to hydrate?
1/2/2015 06:48:20 pm
for my marathon I drank Endra hydration (not the carb one) half an hour before I ran and in my bottles during. On the race day I alternated between water and my bottles as needed. For gels I used Endura (coffee, mint, vanilla my favs) and I had one 15 mins before running, 50 mins in, then every 45 mins after that. That formula totally worked for me and I felt strong and energised and recovered well. On race day I did indulge in two "shotz" gels at the end as they're full of caffiene. The only other "nutrition I had on the day (not sure it this is legit) was gastro stop pills so I didn't need to go in the middle of the race and nurofen
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