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Learning from a Bonk

Running is easy!  It’s the easiest sport out there….right?  I mean, all you do is move your legs and off you go.  Move the legs faster and you run faster, move them slower and your run slower.  There’s no strategy, no thought process, no planning….. you just go run…. simple as that.

Ok, ok…. don’t click on the back button.  Let me finish.  If you continue reading, I’m guessing you’re one of the following people.  Either your are…

  1. A non-runner who is looking for confirmation in what you’ve been saying all along
  2. A beginner that’s thinking…. “If this is true, I’m doing something wrong.”
  3. An experienced runner who’s saying to yourself…. “This lady is nuts!  But I’ll read on just for the entertainment.”

Well, for the non-runner… sorry, but my first paragraph couldn’t be further from the truth.  But if you’re looking for a challenge, I encourage you to give running a try.  And read on because what I’m about to blog may just help you out one day.

For the other two, you’ll just be shaking your head and saying either “Good lesson learned…. thanks for sharing!” or “Been there… Done that!!”

distancetired

I’m training for my first 25K, so I’m racking up the miles on my long run.  But with the crazy weather we see here in West Virginia in February, sometimes I have to be flexible with my training schedule.  I do my LSD runs on the weekends, mostly on Sundays.  However, this weekend I run my 14-mile LSD on Saturday afternoon as the forecast was calling for sunny skies and temps in the 60’s…. awesome weather!! Sunday was calling for rain. I wanted a spring-like run outside, so I decided…. kinda last-minute…. to do the LSD on Saturday.

So, I rode with my son to his baseball batting practice and 14.5 miles from the house, he dropped me off and I headed home.  The first few miles went well… I enjoyed hearing the birds singing, saw several squirrels scurrying up trees and deer running through the fields, and felt the sun shinning in my face and the breeze gently blowing.  Several cars blew their horns when they passed by, and I even saw some folks on motorcycles.  They always wave… they seem to adopt runners into their secret hand waving club.  😀

As normal, between mile three and four, I sipped some water and chewed on some beans, then washed them down with one more sip of water.  I was feeling good.  But around mile seven, I started feeling tired.  It wasn’t my breathing, nor was it my legs feeling heavy, but a weariness in my upper body.  I got to thinking about it and remembered that I had done a fairly tough upper body strength training workout the evening before…. one of my P90X3 workouts.  Plus I had run three miles on the treadmill.  But I had really pushed myself on the strength workout, and now I was still feeling it.  I was amazed at how much it affected my running today.  But I kept pushing through.

Then, somewhere between mile 9 and 10, I “bonked” or hit the wall.  Again, my legs weren’t really heavy and my breathing was ok, but I just wasn’t feeling well.  It took everything I had to swing my arms and I started getting sick to my stomach.  My fingers were swollen to the point that I couldn’t clinch a fist.  I just wasn’t feeling well.  For the first time ever, I almost called someone to come pick me up.   The last couple of miles I walked a lot.  I turned off my Garmin at mile 14 and completely walked the last half mile as a cool down.  And I walked very slowly.

When I finally got home, I was exhausted.  I drank some ice water while I made a protein shake.  I added frozen strawberries, a banana and some almond milk with the protein mix, and threw everything in the blender.  In just minutes, I was drinking my coction in hopes of regaining some of my strength soon.  As soon as I finished that up, I changed out my sweaty clothes for something dry, stretched out across the bed and fell asleep hard…. for three hours (and yes, without the shower).  I reiterate…. I. Was. Exhausted.

When I got up, I felt a little better, but still not 100%.  I took a nice long hot shower, put on some clean clothes and decided to do some menial housework.  That didn’t last long.  I was still tired and still not feeling very well.  So I ate something again and spent the rest of the evening watching TV and napping on the couch.  I finally went to bed at 10:30 and fell fast asleep.

I thought about it today and run the last couple of days through my mind over and over to figure out just what went wrong.  I’ve run half marathons before and ran double-digit training runs lots of times, but never had I felt this bad.  Then I remembered what I had done on Friday, the day before.  My diet on that day was not at all supportive of an 14-mile run coming the following day.  I had not met my daily required 170+ carbs, let alone carb-loaded for a long run.  Additionally, I drank a lot of coffee on Friday instead of water-bombing like I usually do the day before a long run.  So, I was not adequately fueled and hydrated in addition to being physically stressed from the upper-body strength workout and 3-mile treadmill run on Friday evening.  It’s no wonder I was so tired and weary during the last portion of my run and afterwards as well.

BonkSo what was my lesson learned….. not be flexible with my training schedule?  No, I always need to be flexible with my training schedule, especially when I have a chance to run in appropriate weather as opposed to bad weather.  But I need to watch my nutritional and water intake more closely.  What I ate and drank on Friday wasn’t enough for the workout and short run I did that evening, never mind the LSD on Saturday.  Or perhaps I should have eaten a bigger, healthier breakfast on Saturday morning (I just had an egg, bacon, cheese sandwich) to help with fueling, and definitely drank more water and eaten something salty to help retain water better.  Perhaps, I should have just been patient and ran later in the day, or maybe even wait until Sunday and run in the rain.

Whether I could reverse this bad run into a good one…. I don’t really know.  But one thing I do know is that I learned some valuable information about my body, my eating and drinking habits and my running.  That’s why I write this stuff down…. and when I blog it, maybe someone else will learn from it, too.  Or even better, can share in the learning curve by sharing their experiences, insight and advice.  Another thing I learned is that running is definitely lots of fun, but it’s not easy, and to keep from “bonking,” it does take a lot of strategy, thinking and planning.  Never let the graceful, fluid movements of a successful run fool you into thinking it’s an easy sport.

Have you experienced a similar run?

What did you learn from the experience?

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When to Slow Down and Walk

While out on my long run a couple of Sunday’s ago, I came across this flock of chickens. However, this bad boy roster wasn’t about to let me anywhere near his hens. I’ve stopped running and walked lots of times to calm an angry or excited dog, and even a couple of times for a rambunctious steer/cow, but this was the first time for an angry roster.  So, I took a break from my run for a few minutes to catch a shot of Mr. Big and his assembly.  I had to laugh at myself as cars were passing by me and undoubtedly questioning my motives.  I live in a small rural area where chickens, cows, horses, etc. are commonplace, so I must have looked like some city-slicking tourist totally amazed at the sight of real, live chickens.  When in reality I was just enjoying the adventures of another long run.  Someday, I’ll compile all of the pics and write a blog post about all of critters I’ve encountered along these West Virginia back roads I enjoy running so much.  There’s never a boring run, sometimes you just have to slow down and walk to enjoy the entertainment.  😀

What’s the most unusual things you’ve come upon during one of your runs??

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Running in a Thousand Different Directions, But Still Running

There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day!!
There’s not enough of me to get everything done!!
I’m running in a thousand different directions!!

Do you ever say any of these?  If you’re half as busy as I am, you’re saying these to yourself constantly.  With a full-time job that typically runs well over a 40-hour week, a part-time job as an adjunct professor, being the pastor’s wife and music leader at a small country church, having a son who is a senior in high school and in every sport possible, a house to clean, laundry to wash and fold, taking dogs to the vet, and on and on and on… not to mention the shortening hours of sunlight… it’s been a struggle lately to get my running in.  Since I have a half marathon in just six weeks and a second one in January, I don’t want to slack on my mileage.  But how to squeeze it all in has recently left me a little concerned.

Last year this time, I didn’t have this problem.  But then I realized that last year this time, I was a true beginner runner.  I was training for my first 5k, and the furthest I might run at any given time was three miles tops.  Plus, I was only running two, three…maybe four days a week.  Now, I’m running 4 to 5 days a week and putting in 25 to 30 miles.  My one long run now takes more time than an entire week of runs a year ago.  So that explains why I’m facing this new conflict.  As a result, I have to reevaluate my schedule and make some sacrifices to get everything done that I need/want to get done.

So… here are some of my resolutions…

busy calendar

  1. First and foremost, write down my schedule at least weekly.  Don’t try to keep it in my head… write it down and post it where I’ll see it every day.  I keep a hard copy on my fridge and an electronic copy on iCalendars that shows up on my iPhone and computer.
  2. I have to remember that there are others involved and take them into consideration when setting up my schedule.  Directly… my husband and my son (because, you know… I kinda live with them).  More indirectly is my sailor-daughter, my teacher-daughter and her husband, my other family/friends, my church, my jobs, the community committees for which I volunteer… even my dogs are part of the equation.  I can’t totally ignore these folks, and if I consider their plans when setting up mine, then I’ll be a little more prepared to plan around events and activities.
  3. Instead of going into work early as I usually do, on some days I’m going to start doing some early morning running.  I don’t really like that since its pitch dark… living in the country, I’m more afraid of wild animals than I am creepers.  However, the time will be changing soon and it will get brighter earlier.  I gave it a try this morning 6:00am with an easy 3-mile run, and carried my 38 Special.  I felt much safer and confident running alone, which is the only alternative I have when running early morning.  However, if I’m going to run this time of day, I do need to run at 5:15-5:30am… I was late for work this morning. 😦
  4. My commute to work is 25-30 minutes, which is a huge waste of sunlight during shorter days. So, on days that I can’t/don’t get an early morning run in due to weather or whatnot, I’ll plan on coming into work early as normal.  I’ll bring my running gear with me, quit a little earlier and run right after work while it’s still daylight.
  5. I reserve long runs for the weekend since I’m now in the double digits and it takes me at least two hours to finish.   I have primarily used Sunday for the long run, with Saturday being secondary if/when necessary (Saturday is my house cleaning/laundry/errand running day… oh yea, and my sleep-in day).  However, I think I’m going to change that up since racing season is slowing down and I’m not running many 5k’s or 10k’s on Saturday mornings.  I’ll sacrifice the sleeping in and get up early to knock out the long run on Saturday mornings BEFORE I do the housework, laundry and errands.  Perhaps working around the house after the long run will keep me loose, and help alleviate some of the stiffness and soreness.

Right now that’s all I can think of to help me find more time to get the mileage in that I want to run.  Running at lunch time really isn’t an option as I only get 30 minutes plus I usually work through it anyway (if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a workaholic).  The early morning runs will allow me to get a run in on the days that I teach in the evening as well as make it to church and my son’s sporting events that take up the other evenings.   And maybe Sunday’s can be used as a true “day of rest” as it’s supposed to be… with maybe just a little bit of yoga to stretch out and relax from the week of running.   And BTW… I hate… no LOATH the treadmill.  It is reserved for days that there is no way possible I can get outside to run.  I’ll do everything I can to run outside first.  The treadmill is absolutely, positively The. Last. Option.  So I don’t even include that on my schedule.

I know I’m not the only one who struggles with scheduling problem.  I can’t even fathom how those of you with young children manage to have the energy left to run let alone find the time to run.  But I would love to hear your secrets to getting everything done when you’re running in a thousand different directions, and still find time to lace up the running shoes and get in some miles.  Please feel free to share with a comment here…. I or another reader just might incorporate your idea into our running schedule.

To help you smile, here’s a little funny I found for setting schedules.  I don’t know about you, but this is a definite motivation for me to keep running in my schedule no matter what I have to do.  🙂

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Running on Twisting, Turning WV County Roads

oil creek road This picture sure doesn’t do the scene justice.  This twisting, turning country road is currently my favorite LSD course.  It starts at my front door, and 13 miles later I’m at a stop sign at beautiful, peaceful Stonewall Jackson Lake.  The route entails one mile of a one-lane tar-and-chip road that twists out of the hollar from my house to a bridge that spans the small Oil Creek.  It then intersects and continues with 12 miles of Oil Creek Road with its gentle curves and rolling hills.

I just love this particular part of the road for its snake-like qualities, as it seems to be slithering through the shady woods alongside of Oil Creek (over the bank on the right side).   It’s one of those parts of a road that you see as curvy and windy, but if there’s nothing coming towards you in the opposite lane, you can actually drive straight.  I’m not sure why the road is even engineered to be so curvy except to just make it a more interesting and lovely route.  Perhaps it’s because us West Virginia hollar-dwellers aren’t used to straight roads . . . if the curves were to be removed, someone would inevitably drive over the bank and into the creek.

Another reason for including the curves may be the sheer fun of driving your car (or truck, or jeep, or 4-wheeler, or side-by-side) at a racy speed while staying in the proper lane.  I remember as a kid sitting in the back seat of the car with a brother on each side of me, and my Dad taking these roads at an elevated mph.  I can almost hear the squeals and giggles of my brothers and me as we slammed back and forth with the movement of the car on the windy road, squashing each other into the car door.  Looking back on it now, I cringe at the thought of my Dad’s seemingly reckless driving and, what’s worse, us kids in the back seat with no seatbelts on . . . heck, I don’t think the car even HAD seatbelts.  But we sure had fun.  I remember Dad and Mom glancing over their shoulders and grinning from ear to ear as they watched us kids enjoying the game of the windy road.  I miss those days!!  I miss being a kid!!  I miss my Dad!!

I will be running this route again over the weekend as I continue to prepare for my half marathon.  When I come to this section of road, I’ll definitely be thinking of my Dad and the fun times I had with him, Mom and my brothers.  No matter how tired my legs get, how much my lungs burn, or how hot and humid it may be, I’ll still smile as this twisting, turning West Virginia country road brings back some of my fondest childhood memories.   🙂

July Goals

A fellow blogger posted her goals on her blog for the month of July, and encouraged the rest of us to do the same.  And as you know, if you put your goals in print, you tend to take them a little more serious.  So . . . here I go . . .

  1. Run a minimum of 25 miles per week. (WOW . . . that makes over 100 miles for July!!)
  2. Run one long run and one speed workout every week.
  3. Complete at least 3 cross training workouts per week.
  4. Use MyFitnessPal app faithfully (that means everyday) to keep my caloric intake under control.
  5. Have fun!!!!

 

This will definitely be a challenge for me since we will be on vacation at the beach mid-July.  Fortunately, there is a wonderful state-maintained trail that runs right by our condo that is supposed to have some beautiful scenery.  I’m looking forward to running some new routes.

What are your running/fitness goals for the month of July??