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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!!”


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?

Getting Runner’s High from an Awesome LSD

Just the title alone should give me lots of hits on this post. Unfortunately, if you’re a drug addict, you’ll be very disappointed when you find out that LSD in this instance is runner’s lingo for “Long, Slow Distance.”  But yesterday, I enjoyed a natural high from one of the best LSD’s I’ve had since I started running a year ago.  Everything clicked … my pace, my breathing, my timing, the weather, the temperature … everything … perfect!!

I started running in August 2012 with a C25K program.  I ran/walked my first 5k a couple of months later at a surprisingly 10:19 min/mile pace.  Since then, I’ve had better races, and I’ve had worse.  My PR pace so far for a 5k is 08:52 min/mile.  Knowing this, I set the following race pace goals:

  • 10k pace of 09:30 min/mile
  • Half Marathon pace of 10:00 min/mile
  • Full Marathon pace of 11:00 min/mile

So far, I’ve not hit the 10k or HM race paces, but I’m optimistic for a 10k I’m scheduled to run in early November and a HM I’m doing in late-November.  Why so optimistic?  Because of the LSD I ran yesterday.  It’s amazing what a good training run will do for your outlook on future races.

photo 3I typically run LSDs on Sundays when I don’t have a lot going on.   If not Sundays, then usually Saturdays.  But this weekend, I didn’t get a chance to get my LSD in at all.  So I attempted the near impossible … running an LSD on Monday evening after work.  Monday’s at work are always the worst for me … cRazY busy and typically very stressful.  Yesterday was no different.  Additionally, with the daylight hours getting shorter, I know I wouldn’t get much rest between work and the 12 miles I had scheduled.  But I left work determined I would lace up shortly after I got home and hit the road no later than 1






And so I did … and I had one of the best LSDs I’ve ever had.  It was awesome. As I mentioned earlier, the weather totally cooperated.  It was sunny and bright, but cool.  The temperature when I got home around 7:30ish was at 59 degrees.  I felt as if I could have run for ever.

As I started out on the LSD, I could tell I was clipping along at a fairly good pace.  For the first three miles, I held a pace between 09:41-09:45 min/mile.  The voice with my Runtastic app kept giving me the total time ran and the pace for that mile, and I was astonished at how well I was doing.  During the first three miles, I thought to myself, “I’ll keep this up for the first few miles then slow down.  You know you’re gonna hit that wall if you keep this pace up.”  I chewed up some Gu Chomps at 3.5 miles, washed it down with water and felt a little extra energy, so I kept up the pace.  At mile five, and still maintaining a little under a 10:00 min/mile pace, I decided to push myself to get to 6 miles in under 60 minutes …. which I accomplished!!  Even though I feared I would soon slam into the proverbial runners wall, I threw caution to the wind and decided to try to finish out the second half of the training so that I would end up with an average of 10:00 min/mile pace … RACE PACE!!  My splits weren’t totally negative, but I did end up running faster from miles 7 through to 11.  It was a good practice to push through being tired and sore.  I had planned to run 12 miles, but my iPhone died on me at 11.5 miles.  So, I walked the last half mile as a cool down stretch.

photo 2

Will I run all my LSD’s at this pace?? … No!!   Can I technically call yesterday’s run an LSD?? … Probably not.  But it was a good training run.  It was good physically as well as mentally.  Now I know I can run a 10:00 min/mile pace for my HM … I have no doubts.  I didn’t feel I was at 100% during last evenings run, so maybe I can even do better during an actual race.  Sub-2 hour Half Marathon???   Additionally, I can push through being tired and sore.  I know one pack of Gu Chomps will get me through 12 miles.  I know I’ll not wear my Brooks Pure Connect2 minimalist shoes on a long run ever again, and be sure my iPhone is charged to 100% before starting out on a run!!  I think I know that eating chocolate cake for lunch gives me extra energy for a long run.  But I may need to test that one again.  🙂

Even today, I still feel the high of yesterday’s run.  I want to get out there this evening and enjoy this beautiful autumn day with another run along the river.  But I can’t do it … I need a rest day from running.  I will spend a little time with Christine Felstead doing her “Yoga for Runners: Intermediate Program” to stretch out and recuperate.   This is one of those successful training runs that I’ll flag and pull out when I have a bad run or race.  This one will help build confidence and endurance.    This run was AWESOME!!

What was your last runner’s high run like?  What made that run so awesome?

Half Marathon Training Week 10

This time ten weeks from today, I hope to be relishing in the fact that I had just completed my second half marathon ever and set a new PR. I haven’t registered yet, but plan to do any day for the 2nd Annual Miles of Smiles Half Marathon on November 24th. I’ve been procrastinating on registering. One thing I can’t procrastinate on is the training. Now is the time I have to step it up and make sure I follow the training schedule I’ve set up for myself every day of every week. Life has seemed to get in the way the past couple of weeks, so I’ve been a little laxed. But it’s time to get serious.

As a result, I thought I would document my training more often here in the hopes that it will help me follow through with my plans and make me more accountable. I’ve noticed that if I write down my training plan for the week and even month, I am more likely to follow it. I realize that I have to remain flexible as there are uncontrollable circumstances that sometimes get in the way. One of my favorite sayings is

Change the things you can control…do the best you can with the things you can’t control.

This week wasn’t too bad, but still not totally on course with my workout plan.  I completed a 9-mile LSD run last Sunday, 3 miles on Tuesday, over 6 miles yesterday which included a 5k Trail race on a challenging course, and I closed out the week with a 10-mile LSD today.  That makes 28 miles in 8 days.   That’s short of my goal, but I’m not so far off that I can’t get caught up this week.  Fortunately, I did 4 resistant circuit trainings to build core strength to help make up for some of the lost running.  I just finished up the 10-mile LSD about 1 1/2 hours ago, and feel good, so I haven’t lost too much endurance.  Here’s my goal for this week’s training schedule:

  • MONDAY: Cross Training consisting of 30 minute resistance circuit training
  • TUESDAY: 6-mile Tempo Run
  • WEDNESDAY: 5-mile Easy Run and 30 minutes cross training
  • THURSDAY: 30 minutes cross training
  • FRIDAY: 2-mile Easy Run, Hill Repeats 
  • SATURDAY: 6-mile Easy Run and 30 minutes cross training (No Race scheduled)
  • SUNDAY: 11-mile Long Run

This totals out at 30 miles of running, some hill repeats and 120 minutes of cross training.  We plan on going camping at a nearby lake, and the dam there has a set of 80 steps that lead down to the spillway where I can do some hill repeats.  Those always make for a good workout, and the scenery overlooking the lake is always beautiful.  The weather outlook for this week is good, so I shouldn’t be able to use that as an excuse to cancel a training.

It looks like I have a busy week ahead of me, and a long 10 weeks of hard preparation and training for my next half marathon.  But when I cross that finish line and set a new PR, it will all be worth it … no doubt!!

What’s your workout schedule look like for the week??

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.   🙂

Long Run Mistakes

On Sundays, I try to get my long run in for the week.  A long, slow distance run seems to do wonders for my endurance, and I can tell when I haven’t done one for a while.  I had missed my long run over the past couple of weeks with a 6-miler being the longest distance I had completed.  Really I didn’t feel that it qualified as a “long run”.  So yesterday, I was bound and determined to get my long run in for the week.

I’ve worked my way up to a 10-miler according to my training program.  Last weekend was an easy week, so I had only run about 16-18 miles, and the week prior to that I had run my first 10K on a Saturday, so I wasn’t up to the 8-miler that was on my schedule.  This week I had put in two 4-mile days and ran 5 miles during the Relay for Life event in our county on Friday night.  (I’ll write a post about that later.)

So to complete a 10 mile LSD would set a weekly mileage PR for me . . . 23 miles total.  I was excited at the thought of getting in the LSD, but hitting the new PR made it even more exciting.  And even better than that, I realized that with the increasing distance, I can start  running to neighboring towns instead of 2-3 laps around the town in which I lived.  I could literally run to the next town . . . how cool and awesome is that?!?!

So, it was a typical Sunday . . . Church in the a.m., then we ate lunch out.  That was probably my first mistake as I felt I ate a heavy lunch.  I had a Western Omelet, toast and grits.  But the biggest mistake was the two cups of coffee in lieu of water that I drank.  That would come back to haunt me later in the evening.

We then went to visit some elderly friends and members of our church so my husband could lose a couple of games of chess.  He showed great sportsmanship and handled the Checkmate with dignity. 

After that, it was home for a short Sunday afternoon nap.  All this time, no hydrating . . . big, huge . . . HUGE mistake!!

At 6:30pm, I take off for my LSD with my fuelbelt filled up with G2 and a couple of packets of Gu in the pack. But it wasn’t long until I felt the fatigue and dehydration taking over.  My fingers were beginning to swell and my legs felt like weights were tied to my ankles.  The route I chose was fairly easy, just a curvy road along the river with only a couple of hills to deal with.  It was a little overcast, so the sun wasn’t beating down on me all the time, and the trees shadowed the road when it did pop out.  So the physical demands of the run wasn’t that bad.

The two mistakes I noticed were:

  1. I didn’t hydrate like I should have.   I had less than 16 ounces of water all day.  Several cups of coffee, but not much water.  And I’m sure the caffeine didn’t help either. 
  2. Even though my body was telling me between miles two and three that I needed replenished, I ignored it and waited until mile four for a drink of G2 and mile five until I ripped open a Gu.

Lessons learned . . . hydrate, hydrate, HYDRATE!!!  Get 8+ cups of water down at least 2 hours prior to running time, especially on LSD days.  And secondly, listen to my body.  Who knows my body better than itself??  Not my brain, that’s for sure, especially when it’s on a runner’s high.  Even if it seems too early, if I need a drink or restore depleted glycogen, do it!!  Oh, and did I mention hydrate?!?!?

Fortunately, I finished the 10 miles.  It ended up taking me 01:54:40 at an 11:27 min/mile pace, which was actually in the range I was aiming.  With all the walk breaks I ended up taking, I was surprised to keep it under two hours.  The best thing about the run was that it was an absolute beautiful route and I had the pleasure of seeing a lot of wildlife.  I’ll have to make another post on that another day.  :0\