Making it through with Hydration and GU

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 8 miles at 9:49 (variable terrain)

I wanted to put in some mileage this morning but I couldn’t face another long run around the local roads. I’ll probably be back on the street tomorrow but this morning I needed a break. I set out for Bethpage early under cloudy skies that felt like they could give way to rain. I decided that was fine because much of the bike path has decent tree cover. By the time I arrived, the skies had cleared but not to the point where the sun came out. I was happy for that. Running with sun is fine in winter but this time of year I prefer cool and dry with gray skies above.

There were numerous walkers on the bike path at the start of my run. I made my way up the short steep hill that gives way to a long downhill section that almost catapults you through mile one. But it’s a little like having desert before your meal. Easy as they are to manage at the start, those hills are a bear to address at the end. Soon enough, I was into the wooded part of the trail, trying to gauge my readiness to complete an eight mile circuit. I brought along my Amphipod water bottle to see how things would go with some in-run hydration.

I’d also brought along a GU energy gel (Mandarin Orange flavor) that I plan to have for next week’s race. My last experience with a gel pack (Honey Stinger chocolate flavor) did not go well but I still like the idea of having restoring carbs during the second half a longer run. I still don’t love the Amphipod bottle because it’s very cold to hold at the beginning (filled with ice) and it sloshes as the water supply depletes. Still, having water made a difference and it made my gel experience much better than last time. I ate the gel at the 4 mile mark and it helped me enough to maintain my first half pace over the last four miles. I took a few side trails that run parallel to the paved path. My turnaround point at four miles went around a small pond that was also ringed by a dirt trail.

There were numerous runners along the way wearing team shirts and on my return leg I noticed mile markers along the bike path. It wasn’t until I was near the Bethpage Parkway circle that I realized the Ocean to Sound Relay routed through this course. I really wanted to participate in that race but I couldn’t get a team together. That’s probably for the best because I’d prefer to focus on the Great Cow Harbor 10K next Saturday. About a mile from my end point I was surprised and happy to see Dave coming from the other direction, one mile into his run of the day.

Later this afternoon my daughter and I did a run around the middle school field. She really ran well and maintained a decent pace throughout our run. I think her training is making a difference. I’m hoping mine is too.

Guilt gets a bad rap

The idea of running was not very appealing when I awoke at 3:45 AM this morning. I was shocked when I saw the time as I’d expected it to be around midnight by the way I felt. As I made my way to the coffee machine I thought about everything I could do rather than getting on the damn treadmill: return to bed for 30 minutes, do 15 minutes of core exercises then rest before my shower or replace today’s run with a lower impact elliptical session. I have learned that the hard effort of running is nothing compared with the guilt that comes from missing a workout. When I choose to rest I enjoy the brief respite from the obligation of exercise but soon after that comes the letdown of missing the endorphic payoff and, later, the nagging sense that I failed to accomplish a conditioning goal. On the other hand, when I do my early run, I feel that if nothing else good happens in the day at least I have that accomplishement under my belt.

Of course I ended up running this morning. In the 18 months since I’ve been a dedicated runner I’ve missed very few workouts (thanks to guilt). About a year ago I adopted Mondays as my rest day and that’s really been the only time off I’ve taken, not counting illness. I feel very good about that and if it’s all due to guilt then I have to say that guilt gets an unfair rap because, in fact, its really a helpful influence. Due to guilt I had my last run before Sunday’s race as a tempo this morning, starting off easy and gradually working up to the edge of discomfort. At the moment all systems seem to be in order, no aches, pains, twinges or anything else to distract me from the challenges I’ll be facing. I’m getting psyched for mud and I’ll try to have fun with it but I also know it will mean some real work. It will be a long five miles but when I finish I won’t have any guilt to deal with.