Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
Nervously Feelin' Good
Haven't updated here in a while.
Training wasn't great in November. Not terrible, but not as good as it could be. After missing only one day of training each in the months of July through October, November had three zero days, and early December had two. Related or not, I gained a few kg, too.
After Thanksgiving, I seemed to re-discover my drive, even if I missed a couple training days after that (one of them due to an unavoidable school commitment). Most notably, I did a better job of sticking to strength exercise, something I skip half the time. With only a week before the big race, it feels like I'm turning a corner when it comes to strength.
Weekly distance has continued to slowly increase, as scheduled, but more notably, more training runs are specialized in one way or another. Previously, the weekly routine was one short day of speed training, one long run, and four "normal" runs. The speed and long days are still there, but a hill training day and a semi-long day, about 25% longer than a "normal" day, have been added. As a result, only two runs per week are "normal", halfway serving as shakeout/recovery runs, whereas the other four runs are each designed to make me stronger in a somewhat-specific way.
This past week was the second-to-last before the big race, so training was toned back down to mostly normal runs, with one short fast day, and the long run was trimmed down to a semi-long day. Aside from that, no breaks, which meant the weekly distance was almost as long as it would've been, but mile-for-mile, the training has been easier.
Next week, plan is to run and bike on alternate days, then simply go for a walk the last two days before the race. No break in strength training, until the very day before. Somehow, I have to prevent myself from gaining weight while burning thousands less calories this week.
Lately, I've had gastro-issues on my long runs. I tried for a month to figure out what didn't agree with my stomach, and at one point, had it narrowed down to possibly caffeine. But I still had issues on a run where I only had 50 mg of caffeine (roughly one soda) over the course of four hours.
After doing some research, I found out I was simply eating too much. My background is in marathons, where you're told to make sure your caloric deficit is less than 2,000 calories or you'll hit the wall. I figured I had to eat almost as much as I burned, about 900 calories/hour, so I ate around 700 calories/hour.
Turns out your stomach can't process more than 200-400 calories/hour, and makes up for the deficit by burning fat. The reason you need at least a little food during a marathon is it serves as a match to get your metabolism started. Without burning something else first, your body can't start burning fat. Eating 400 calories during a marathon is enough not because it keeps you just under a 2,000-calorie deficit, but because that's all you need to tap into your fat stores.
With this knowledge, I tried eating essentially the exact same food, but less of it. It worked! Good, now I don't have to come up with a new strategy.
For the most part, it feels like I'm where I need to be. I don't know if I'll break 10 hours like I want to, but I'm running well, and even running negative splits 1-2 hours into a training run, without even meaning to. At this point, you can't reasonably expect to get stronger in the last week before a race, so it's all up to maintenance and setting myself up to run the best race I possibly can.