First of all – thank you so much to everyone who has helped me raise money for Marie Curie by sponsoring me on my marathon run on 6th May. I am overwhelmed by the support and kind words – and the very generous anonymous donations too – thank you – whoever you are!!
I had mixed feelings about my training run on 29th April. I managed to run 23km (14 miles) in unexpectedly warm weather (about 18°C, that felt like 30!). I tried hard not to neglect the fact I had run over half a marathon in the warmest temperature I had ever ran in, whilst part of me went on about how I had “only” made 23km of my 35km (22 miles) target!
Training is of course about learning and experience. I learned that running in the heat is a lot harder than in the cool, and that I may need to make adjustments or additional preparations given my marathon run is in early May – a particularly unpredictable time of year. The route was mostly open with little protection from the direct sun.
To get through this 23km, I stopped for a few seconds here and there in available shade, drank more water than usual and took a few “walking breaks”. As I approached what would have been the turning point on my planned route (Watermead Lake) I felt familiar early symptoms of sun stroke – headache, unquenchable thirst, etc. I decided it was wise to call it quits before I did any real damage.
Still, onwards and upwards – it looks like it will cool off somewhat next week so I will make my next 35km attempt soon. In the meantime, I will see what headgear might help me in future.
I’ve been trying to carve out some time to get some new running shoes, and I finally did it last week. I was aware I had left it quite late, with only a few weeks to go. I got to test them out on this 23km (and a couple of short runs) and all is well so far. I know though that any small issues with running shoes often don’t show up until a few hours in so we will see. But I am quietly confident!
I visited “Up & Running” in Milton Keynes, who were very helpful and patient in providing a “gait analysis” and persistent in trying out numerous shoes until we found the ones that fit my peculiarly shaped, oversized feet!
I’m often asked what I am eating before and during my longer runs. With just a few weeks to go I am having to be a bit stricter about my diet, not just what I eat but also when.
The day before
As I have previously experienced eating the wrong foods the day before a run really makes a difference – for me bad food means heartburn – which is awful on a run. It is important that I don’t eat too close to bedtime either. I try to stick with the basics that conform to the macronutrients, micronutrients and electrolytes I am after (“what do I eat?”).
For example, on the day before my 23k last week, I had a quality beef steak (grass-fed, from Kings Farm Shop, Wendover), organic spinach, homemade mayonnaise (made with quality olive oil) – and some black pudding!
What’s for breakfast / lunch?
I usually only have one or two meals a day. It’s an interesting side effect of a low carb diet – because fat is more satiating and difficult to overeat (unlike sugar) one tends to only eat when truly hungry, rather than out of habit. Some days I have breakfast, but most days I will have some lunch. On other days, I only have dinner. It depends on how I feel.
What I actually eat for breakfast or lunch are often quite similar. I usually have some nuts (such as walnuts, brasils), cheese, eggs, spinach. I might have some homemade low-carb bread (a specialty of my wife!), or homemade low-carb crustless quiche (a specialty of my mum!).
On the day
As I am running on fat without sugar on the day of a run – provided it is not too late in the day – I am fully fasted (I do not eat anything). This optimises fat-energy delivery by keeping insulin low and maximising glucagon and ketones. The only exception is I may consume a mug of skimmed “bone broth” purely for minerals, electrolytes and hydration (it is almost calorie free with nothing added).
During the run I drink water with a predefined mix of salts – again to maintain electrolytes and hydration which is particularly crucial during a fasted, ketogenic state.
After my run I find the need to allow my stomach to “wake up” for an hour or so before I break my fast, and I do so by having a light low-carb snack (and probably a coffee with cream!).
I plan to attempt my 35km training run again within the next ten days. I have also taken up regular cycling as an alternative exercise and continue to go out on shorter (<12km) runs when I can. I should probably also go and find a suitable sun hat!
Thank you so much to everyone who has helped me raise money for Marie Curie by sponsoring me on my marathon run on 6th May. I am overwhelmed by the support and kind words – and the very generous anonymous donations too – thank you – whoever you are!!