Intestines Revolt! 10 Biggest Fitness Myths! Marathon Training Week 5

Gummies

[Reminder: I’m attempting to blog weekly as a put one foot in front of the other en route to the LA Marathon in March. Thanks to readers like you I’ve raised nearly $900 thus far. My goal is $2012. If you’re reading this I’d appreciate you giving anything you can afford to Pablove. Thanks!]

After ten days of travel, I came home from LAX on Thursday evening in time to kiss my five year-old goodnight. Around 8pm she complained of a tummy ache. Around midnight she started throwing up, and didn’t stop until about 7pm the following evening. Last night around 10pm the bug took out my wife, Julie, who was up all night back/forth between the bed and the porcelain god. I woke up this morning feeling a less than perfect in the tummy department myself, but knowing I had 14 miles to run today to keep with my training. I was pretty sure I was next in line for the flu bug and heard the clock ticking. I thought maybe I could outrun it, literally, getting the run done before I went down for the count.

I laced up, put Lucinda in the stroller, and headed out the door. The first three or four miles were uncomfortable but not unmanageably so. Around mile five I knew I was toast, though. I was only two miles from the turn-around, but I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I was starting to get the hot flashes of the flu. Ugh.

Maybe I’ll get the 10 in, I decided. So I turned around at 5 miles and started running home. It started to become pointless. My GI distress was severe enough that every step was a challenge. I decided to call it, and walked the final mile plus to the Hotel Erwin, where I folded up the stroller and spent $10 on a cab ride home. Once home I succumbed to the flu bug myself and I’ve spent the day in/out of consciousness and the bathroom. I think I may have had the easiest of the family, though, I’m already feeling much better, sitting upright, and drinking some water. I have Accelerade popsicles freezing right now, ready for my breakfast tomorrow.

I’m definitely bummed to not have completed an important day in my training program. It’s ironic that I managed to make it through all my key runs traveling from home to NYC to Nashville to SF to Vegas (including a hungover tempo run on the Vegas strip Thursday morning) but didn’t manage to get through a long run right here at home on an excellent night’s sleep. There’s no accounting for illness, as they say. Hal Higdon talks about people who get anal retentive about their program, wondering if they will finish the marathon if they miss one session. I’m not that guy, but I would like to see how the plan works when applied. Since I did nearly 7 today I’m going to swap this out for Tuesdays run and try to do my 14 miler when recovered on Tuesday. I’ll let you know how that goes.

[UPDATE: I put the 14 miler behind me this morning (Tuesday, as planned). Felt good. Telemetry can be found in my RunKeeper account right here. Special thanks to my stroller-riding running companion, five year-old Lucinda, for her patience. Lucinda’s playlist from today can be found right here.]

Brad Barrish sent me this link from Outside Magazine tonight: The 10 Biggest Fitness Myths. Here’s my response. I’m curious to hear how y’all feel about these myths and my responses:

  1. Stretching. Agreed. I *never* stretched until recently and it treated me well. I’m stretching more now, seeing if it might help with soreness as I add miles. My right IT band is tightening as it’s been known to do in the past. Still, I find the foam roller more effective than stretching. More important than stretching is likely increasing mileage slowly. Stretching and yoga definitely *feels* good, though!
  2. Barefoot. What they report there matches my personal experience with barefoot running. I have stopped barefoot running for the time being due to a weird little injury in my foot, a swelling under my right ankle which seems to be irritated by barefoot running (I keep meaning to have it looked at but just haven’t had time). Still, barefoot runing did really improve my form and my time, I’d like to go back to it on the short runs again soon and will do it as soon as I’m sure it won’t jeopardize my training program.
  3. Core strength. The “myth” they’re pointing to here seems like unhelpful bullshit to me. I believe my improvements in form and speed are directly related to weight-training. There’s just no question that solid foundational fitness allows you to hold better form for longer amounting to better performance with less fatigue.
  4. I don’t know anyone who thinks guzzling before running prevents cramps. Is this really a myth? More on my hydration experimentations below.
  5. Re: Ibuprofen. Makes sense. I’ve never heard any science around this and like the above I never read any sports nutritionists who recommend this. Eating a good meal of whole foods post-run probably speeds recovery more than anything. Hardcore dudes do things like spray magnesium on their legs and wear compression tights. But that’s only after something gnar gnar like a marathon or ironman.
  6. Their comment re: dehydration is directly related to the post last week where Dr. Noakes debunks the hydration myth. Based on my personal experience, I would have to agree. I don’t take any liquid on runs less than one hour. On a run of an hour or more I would take a small amount of water (12 oz per hour) and some gel packs. Based on what I know hitting “The Wall” comes from running out of glycogen stores in your liver, not a lack of water or salt. I’ll let you know if that changes based on my experimentation over the course of this training.
  7. I have no experience with ice baths so I can’t comment here. Sounds fuckin cold and unpleasant, so if it’s a placebo I’ll skip it, thanks.
  8. I’ve heard the same research they note here, that the fastest way to burn calories is with high-intensity interval training. Sounds like you can get just as much cal-burn benefit from very short workout, based on the research. It also sounds really un-fun. I only get the one day of interval training in per week on this marathon program so I’m likely spending my time all wrong, plodding along for hours on these long runs. Heh. Maybe this will be my next experiment…
  9. They’re claiming fructose is good for you when training and can in fact make you faster. Not sure I buy this one, it’s counter to other research I’ve heard. Carbs in fructose are difficult to access. I call bullshit. Get your fructose from whole fruits, not high-fructose corn syrup.
  10. It’s funny, I’ve read a ton on supplements and everyone says basically the same thing: no conclusive evidence of anything here that improves performance. I take a whole food multi vitamin, a vitamin D, and some fish oil. For the rest? Eat good whole foods, lots of fruits and veggies.

See you next week.

ian

Do You Need That Gatorade? Marathon Training Week 4

Shelby Bottoms

Week 4 in my marathon training lead-up! Truth is I’m just looking for a reason to blog every week to remind people I’m raising money for Pablove while training for the 2012 LA Marathon. I’m over $700 from three blog posts with about 12 weeks to go. Any help getting to my goal of $2012 is appreciated. Click here to donate any amount.

Hopefully there will be some tidbits in these blog posts that help you with your training of any kind or length. I know I’ve already got a ton of value from the feedback people have left in the comments. If you have something to share please don’t be shy.

Hello from a plane home from Nashville, TN. This morning’s run was INCREDIBLE, probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever had the pleasure of running, but more on that later…

Thanks to a comment Mike Hughes left here on the blog I’ve just discovered Ben Greenfield’s podcast and have been catching up on lots of episodes over the past couple of weeks. Some are definitely better than others but there’s a ton of great info there, particularly from Ben himself who I find to be more knowledgeable than most of his guests. This morning was an exception to that rule, though. I listened to a great interview with the man who wrote what is widely referred to as the definitive (and certainly heaviest) book about running, South African Dr. Tim Noakes, author of The Lore of Running. I commonly use Tim’s book as a free-weight/sleep-aid and pick it up whenever I want to fall asleep quickly. Not that it’s boring, it’s not, it’s just DENSE, more a physiology text than a “how to run” book.

On Ben’s show this morning Dr. Noakes was giving a preview of a new book he has coming out next year where he uses science to dispel the (he says) Gatorade-created myth that we need many liters of sugary, salty sports drink during exercise. He says the science doesn’t point to the need to hydrate ahead of being thirsty nor does it point to a need for more salt as you sweat. His advice: drink to thirst, no more, no less, and water is fine (he also says if your body is used to a salty sports drink you shouldn’t go cold turkey, wean). This typically amounts to 12-18oz of liquid per hour, not the 40oz the Gatorade Science Foundation recommends. Shocking.

You can listen to the entire podcast here.

Tim also mentioned that at 62 he’s running as fast as he was in his early 40s, a turnaround he attributes to adopting the Paleo Diet.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, this past week was a marathon travel week, from home in Los Angeles to New York City to SF to home to Nashville. Each stop was full of meetings and on top of it we had a crazy end-of-year crush of a work week. I still had to cover approximately 35 miles on foot over that time to keep up with training. It wasn’t easy to fit it in, but thanks to some help from friends I got it done and enjoyed every minute of it.

Monday and Tuesday: New York City

I stayed mid-town near 30th and Madison. I landed around midnight and by the time I collected my bag and headed into the city it was after 2am ET before I got to sleep. Still, I set the alarm for 6am ET (3am PT — OUCH) to get an easy 3 miler in. I headed east in the dark, searching for the path along the eastern coastline. It wasn’t easy to get all the way there but eventually I found the entrance along 25th street. Not exactly scenic, especially in the dark. But, three miles done: check.

The crazy thing was noting how easy it is to get in way more steps in NYC than I get back home. I went from meeting to meeting all day, walking when I had time instead of taking the subway. At the end of the day I’d logged more than 25,000 steps. On a non-run day in LA I come in more around 5,000, daily goal is 10,000 and even on a run day in LA I’m only around 15,000. It was a good reminder a walking commute is plenty to get a minimum level of physical activity and burn 500 or so calories.

Day two called for a seven mile run so I headed to the West Side Highway for what is by all accounts a much nicer run path. Tis true. Not only is it a better run but I finally got a peek at the skate park at Chelesa Piers. Looks damn fun. Only problem, the weather went from no rain to light rain to steady rain while I was out. Not terrible, though. Fine run. Check.

Wednesday, Northern California

I woke up Wednesday morning in Northern California and headed out for a short 3-miler. The hotel recommended a running path and I found it but also found it was pitch black at 6am. I ran along it for a bit but it really didn’t seem like the smartest place to be all alone in the dark so I bailed and ran along a street instead. Funny part was it was colder in Northern California than it was in NYC this early December.

Thursday, Santa Monica, CA

Thursday morning I was back home and since the Higdon program I chose for this training plan called for hill training I ran to the beach then hit my favorite hill in Santa Monica (Pearl Street between Lincoln and 12th in Santa Monica) for some uphill sprints.

Thankfully Friday was a rest day because I was up all night Thursday working with Topspin pals Bob, Paul, Shamal, and Brian (I love you mans) and only managed a couple hour nap rather than a night’s sleep.

Saturday and Sunday, Nashille, TN

Saturday called for six miles at marathon pace which I did from where I was staying with friends (thanks for hosting, Shelly, Jeff, and Emmylou!) in East Nashville into a gorgeous park called Shelby Bottoms.

Sunday was long run day (13 miles) so at sun-up I retraced my steps into Shelby Bottoms and just kept on going. Around mile four I found a foot bridge heading east over the river. The view from the bridge was stunning. The sun was just peeking over the horizon and the river was filled with fog while the sky was otherwise clear. So here floating in a river lined with tall trees on each side were wispy billows of fluffy beautifulness. It was an incredible run worthy of a photo and a two page spread in some running magazine. Also, just like in NYC, I managed a run past the local skate park which looks fun and worthy of a visit. The only downside: it was *cold* in Nashville this weekend, particularly at dawn, in the high 20s F. My hands froze on Saturday’s run so I hit a running store and picked up some two-layer mittens from Saucony. I fared much better during the hour and forty-five minutes I was on the trail this morning but still came back with frozen fingers.

Now I’m doing the opposite of stretching, sitting in a seat on a plane, headed for home. Tonight is Kid Rock at The Malibu Inn (!) and tomorrow I’m on a 6am flight again… Are the holidays here yet?

Reminder: You can follow along with my training at RunKeeper here and donate to my Pablove fundraising page here.

Question of the day: How am I going to get my running workouts in when I head to Mammoth between Xmas and NYE? Bundle up and hit the streets or find a treadmill? I’m wondering how my speed training will fare at altitude…

In the Nashville spirit I offer you this great short documentary of the esteemed Johnny Corndawg marathon training on tour (thanks Jeff Colvin for turning me on to both Johnny and this video):

Oh one more thing. I finally looked up the results of the 10-miler I ran in Nashville a month ago. Results here. Note that while I won the 35-39 age group I wouldn’t have won either 40-44 or 45-49! That was a fun and beautiful local race competing directly with a huge Rock N Roll Half Marathon on the same day. I’d highly recommend it.

Thanks for reading and supporting. See you on the road.

ian

Intestines Revolt! 10 Biggest Fitness Myths! Marathon Training Week 5

Gummies

[Reminder: I’m attempting to blog weekly as a put one foot in front of the other en route to the LA Marathon in March. Thanks to readers like you I’ve raised nearly $900 thus far. My goal is $2012. If you’re reading this I’d appreciate you giving anything you can afford to Pablove. Thanks!]

After ten days of travel, I came home from LAX on Thursday evening in time to kiss my five year-old goodnight. Around 8pm she complained of a tummy ache. Around midnight she started throwing up, and didn’t stop until about 7pm the following evening. Last night around 10pm the bug took out my wife, Julie, who was up all night back/forth between the bed and the porcelain god. I woke up this morning feeling a less than perfect in the tummy department myself, but knowing I had 14 miles to run today to keep with my training. I was pretty sure I was next in line for the flu bug and heard the clock ticking. I thought maybe I could outrun it, literally, getting the run done before I went down for the count.

I laced up, put Lucinda in the stroller, and headed out the door. The first three or four miles were uncomfortable but not unmanageably so. Around mile five I knew I was toast, though. I was only two miles from the turn-around, but I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I was starting to get the hot flashes of the flu. Ugh.

Maybe I’ll get the 10 in, I decided. So I turned around at 5 miles and started running home. It started to become pointless. My GI distress was severe enough that every step was a challenge. I decided to call it, and walked the final mile plus to the Hotel Erwin, where I folded up the stroller and spent $10 on a cab ride home. Once home I succumbed to the flu bug myself and I’ve spent the day in/out of consciousness and the bathroom. I think I may have had the easiest of the family, though, I’m already feeling much better, sitting upright, and drinking some water. I have Accelerade popsicles freezing right now, ready for my breakfast tomorrow.

I’m definitely bummed to not have completed an important day in my training program. It’s ironic that I managed to make it through all my key runs traveling from home to NYC to Nashville to SF to Vegas (including a hungover tempo run on the Vegas strip Thursday morning) but didn’t manage to get through a long run right here at home on an excellent night’s sleep. There’s no accounting for illness, as they say. Hal Higdon talks about people who get anal retentive about their program, wondering if they will finish the marathon if they miss one session. I’m not that guy, but I would like to see how the plan works when applied. Since I did nearly 7 today I’m going to swap this out for Tuesdays run and try to do my 14 miler when recovered on Tuesday. I’ll let you know how that goes.

[UPDATE: I put the 14 miler behind me this morning (Tuesday, as planned). Felt good. Telemetry can be found in my RunKeeper account right here. Special thanks to my stroller-riding running companion, five year-old Lucinda, for her patience. Lucinda’s playlist from today can be found right here.]

Brad Barrish sent me this link from Outside Magazine tonight: The 10 Biggest Fitness Myths. Here’s my response. I’m curious to hear how y’all feel about these myths and my responses:

  1. Stretching. Agreed. I *never* stretched until recently and it treated me well. I’m stretching more now, seeing if it might help with soreness as I add miles. My right IT band is tightening as it’s been known to do in the past. Still, I find the foam roller more effective than stretching. More important than stretching is likely increasing mileage slowly. Stretching and yoga definitely *feels* good, though!
  2. Barefoot. What they report there matches my personal experience with barefoot running. I have stopped barefoot running for the time being due to a weird little injury in my foot, a swelling under my right ankle which seems to be irritated by barefoot running (I keep meaning to have it looked at but just haven’t had time). Still, barefoot runing did really improve my form and my time, I’d like to go back to it on the short runs again soon and will do it as soon as I’m sure it won’t jeopardize my training program.
  3. Core strength. The “myth” they’re pointing to here seems like unhelpful bullshit to me. I believe my improvements in form and speed are directly related to weight-training. There’s just no question that solid foundational fitness allows you to hold better form for longer amounting to better performance with less fatigue.
  4. I don’t know anyone who thinks guzzling before running prevents cramps. Is this really a myth? More on my hydration experimentations below.
  5. Re: Ibuprofen. Makes sense. I’ve never heard any science around this and like the above I never read any sports nutritionists who recommend this. Eating a good meal of whole foods post-run probably speeds recovery more than anything. Hardcore dudes do things like spray magnesium on their legs and wear compression tights. But that’s only after something gnar gnar like a marathon or ironman.
  6. Their comment re: dehydration is directly related to the post last week where Dr. Noakes debunks the hydration myth. Based on my personal experience, I would have to agree. I don’t take any liquid on runs less than one hour. On a run of an hour or more I would take a small amount of water (12 oz per hour) and some gel packs. Based on what I know hitting “The Wall” comes from running out of glycogen stores in your liver, not a lack of water or salt. I’ll let you know if that changes based on my experimentation over the course of this training.
  7. I have no experience with ice baths so I can’t comment here. Sounds fuckin cold and unpleasant, so if it’s a placebo I’ll skip it, thanks.
  8. I’ve heard the same research they note here, that the fastest way to burn calories is with high-intensity interval training. Sounds like you can get just as much cal-burn benefit from very short workout, based on the research. It also sounds really un-fun. I only get the one day of interval training in per week on this marathon program so I’m likely spending my time all wrong, plodding along for hours on these long runs. Heh. Maybe this will be my next experiment…
  9. They’re claiming fructose is good for you when training and can in fact make you faster. Not sure I buy this one, it’s counter to other research I’ve heard. Carbs in fructose are difficult to access. I call bullshit. Get your fructose from whole fruits, not high-fructose corn syrup.
  10. It’s funny, I’ve read a ton on supplements and everyone says basically the same thing: no conclusive evidence of anything here that improves performance. I take a whole food multi vitamin, a vitamin D, and some fish oil. For the rest? Eat good whole foods, lots of fruits and veggies.

See you next week.

ian