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“Sport’s Nutrition for Endurance Athletes” by Monique Ryan

It is important to understand that sports nutrition does not always coincide with generalized, everyday nutrition. “Eat to live” is a mantra that has become quite popular with the growing number of people becoming more health conscious. And it’s a good mantra, except when an athlete must “Eat to perform.” Sometimes it’s better to eat a bowl of white pasta or rice instead of trying to run a marathon on celery sticks.

If you’re looking to really delve into the nutrition aspect of your training, I recommend this book. Reading it cover to cover may be a bit dry, but you can skip a few chapters and just stick with sport specific topics if you want. Reading through charts and caloric numbers and formulas might also be overwhelming at first, but as you begin to apply the basic guidelines from the book, everything will make sense in your head. I was able to glean a good amount of useful information from the book.

Remember that anytime you up your intensity I training you need to pay closer attention to what is fueling your body to avoid burn out. Introduce any changes slowly and adjust to your own body’s needs.


Camelbak Hydration Pack

When I first learned I needed some sort of fuel and hydration pack to use while marathon training, I got the typical Nathan brand waist/hip belt. With a pocket for food and a water bottle attached on each side, it suited my needs. I used is for a few years, but when I started going longer than 22 miles in training, it wasn’t enough fluid. Rather than get one of those belts that look like they have a gazillion (but really only 4) water bottles flailing from every direction while you run, I decided to try a hydration backpack. I didn’t want to spend much money on the idea, because I didn’t know if I’d like it. An Amazon search found me one for twenty bucks.

Oh my word – what a difference it makes to carry fluid on your back rather than your hips. The mouthpiece was weird, and it was miserable to even try to clean. It didn’t have a chest strap which made it slide around, but it was still better than the belt.

It didn’t take me long to upgrade to the Camelbak brand. I’ve used the Hydrobak model, but now have the Circuit hydration pack and I love it. The 1.5 liter flask is perfect for the amount of fluids I need. There’s plenty of pockets for phone and key storage, as well as pouches for nutrition, so you don’t really need a belt. The Camelbak brand has a chest strap to make running with a backpack much more comfortable, and the mouthpiece is easier to drink from. I know all hydration backpacks are a pain to clean, but this one isn’t as bad as my first off-brand amazon purchase. The tube cleaning brush they sell is helpful and the backpack shell I just throw in the wash.

Some runners don’t like training with the extra fluid weight and prefer to map out water stops along their route. But I use the backpack as a training tool, and wear it when I’m doing runs of 15 or more miles. I just like feeling that much lighter on race day.

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AFC 2016

America’s Finest City Half Marathon – attracting elites and fellow runners from forty-five states and eighteen different countries. I had high expectations for this race. I completed the course last year (on what was said to be the hottest day of the year) in 1:38:10 and in a year’s time I had improved a lot and had done quite a few other races in the year so far. In fact, this race was the second slice of bread in my half-10k-8mile-half sandwich in a month’s time.

Of course, I wanted a new PR and beat an earlier 1:28:27 I did in the spring. I felt really good about it. My legs felt good, my heart and lungs felt good, and I was ready to race hard. But for this race I needed to try my best to run by feeling and not by my watch. I had just begun racing with my Garmin and I knew I didn’t quite have the balance of pacing by watch and pacing by gut.

Barely sleeping at all, I got up race morning, had some yerba mate, a HoneyStinger energy bar, and headed to the bus transportation site. I had almost an hour and a half of wait time once I got to the starting area which was annoying, but that’s what happens when you have to deal with buses. The race did, however, start a few minutes early and we all know that NEVER happens.

I spotted some people I wanted to beat in the first few miles, and then got tagged by a guy that stayed with me for five miles. I was annoyed, but also surprised he stayed with me for that long. He didn’t seem like he could hold the pace, but then he admittedly wished me a good race as he dropped off. After that, I caught up to a girl I wanted to beat from the beginning and we leap frogged for a few miles, but I couldn’t push the pace she was going for – she left me behind with a few guys, but the field had become pretty sparse. I guess it was the awkward group that was far behind the elites, but faster than the average.

A little after that halfway point I opened my HoneyStinger gel and experimented with a mantra. I think I like having one. It seemed to help. And no, you don’t get to know what it is. Anyway, for miles 7-10, an obnoxious by stander followed in a car in the open lane of traffic with “Eye of the Tiger” blasting on repeat. I had to chuckle, even at his added “Yeah baby dig deep!” comments, but it got old real fast. I caught up to a guy running from England and asked if bystanders were that loud over there and he assured me they weren’t. Ha!

It was smooth sailing so far, and I felt like I had a good pace. Heading into the 11th mile, I was sure I was going to PR. The last few miles were at a good incline, so my pace slower, but I still felt strong. Picking off a few more runners less than a mile from the finish, I headed down the final stretch. The finish line was just around the corner and I heard the announcer congratulate a runner ahead of me finishing in 1:29. What? My heart sank. I had been good about not looking at my watch or race clocks, but I felt like I did better than 1:29! I was disappointed and frustrated that I had to settle for my second best time. Final results: 1:29:30 – 65th of 3940 overall – 15th of 2079 female – and 1st of 153 in age group.