{Wisconsin Marathon Training-Week 5/Fueling for Your Training}

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Monday-3 miles on the treadmill
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It was too cold for outside running today. The weather channel’s choice of background is slightly deceptive. True-the sun may have been shining, but at temperatures this cold it is quite unnoticed. Regardless of the temperatures staying hydrated is always important. One of my favorite ways to get myself to drink more water is to add fruit to water to add some flavor. My favorite-simple lemons in water. Ryan takes his water straight up.

Tuesday-6 miles on the treadmill

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This was a rough run for me. I actually wavered between throwing my iPhone against the nearby wall and bursting into tears. I kept it together (barely) but had to walk .75 miles to regain my composure. Treadmill runs do little for my mental health during the run-that comes later. Ryan on the other hand, rocked his miles out like the devoted-training-for-his-first-marathon guy he is.

Wednesday-6 miles outside (!) and Ryan lifted
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This run was a cold one with chilly winds blowing and gusting, but it was a chance to get outdoors. It was an ok run, but not one that made you love running. It made you more love running when you were done.

Thursday-Danced it up in my cowboy boots for several hours
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Friday-Ryan lifted after work and I skied it up on a school field trip
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Saturday-12 mile long run outside
Saturday’s long run was the warmest day we had this week.  The temperature was 18 degrees with no windchill. That is right no windchill.  As a result, there was no chance of us running inside today.  The windchill was slightly misleading as the wind certainly had a chill, but running in the fresh air on open road was so refreshing.

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That is bare road folks…the first run of the winter that had more than a few open blocks.

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Half way through our run we were feeling great. We swung by the house for a drink and were back on the road. I thought about taking a GU, but didn’t really feel hungry and I usually prefer not to take GU’s on runs of 13 miles or less. Ryan was sticking with the same plan. When I first started marathon training, I needed more calories to finish my runs and learned the hard way what calories worked for me. I don’t believe in set rules for all. We each have different bodies and will, therefore, require different foods and drinks for fuel. I am not a dietician, nutritionist, or certified anything when it comes to fueling needs of runners. I simply have ran and found what worked through my own experiences. Below are some of my personal findings with eating on the run or preparing to run.

During my first marathon training cycle, I started getting stomach cramps that would last hours after long runs. Sometimes they started during runs after taking in some form of fuel. I felt trapped; I needed to eat or I would be starving, low on energy, and unable to finish my long runs, but I was feeling sick from what I was eating.

Learning what foods you can eat and can’t eat on long runs requires some experimenting. There is no way to know for sure until you try things out. I remember it being a frustrating time. You are hungry, need fuel to accomplish quality runs, but know you are going to feel sick later. Ugh! You can try not fueling, but you will bonk and runs will feel way worse than they need to. Try no to get frustrated if this is happening to you. We all learn by doing.

After far too many stomachaches post-long runs, I started to do some research. I bought the book, Performance Nutrition for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald, and learned so much about fueling my body for running. If you’ve had issues with fueling I strongly recommend you purchase this book. He breaks fueling for running down into easy to follow ideas that you can take home to your kitchen and use on the run.
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I learned that so called sports bars and drinks that had lots of sugar were giving me my stomach cramps and really were not designed for runners. I swapped out sugary Gatorade for G2 and felt some improvement.  I later switched G2 for Ultima Replenisher which has no sugars, artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners that were easier on my stomach. I also ditched the Snickers Marathon bars and Power Bars for GU’s and simple granola bars that were easier for my stomach to digest. Some of the experimenting was simply getting used to digesting foods while on the run. I can now eat more real foods than ever before because my body has learned to fuel my muscles and supply blood to my stomach at the same time (in moderation). When it comes to fueling the body for running, eating real food for meals and snacks leading up to runs is almost always the most filling, easiest digested, and the best for you. Since this post is already getting long, I’ve made a separate post for those of you who have asked me questions about fueling for long-runs-Fueling for the Long Run

As for Saturday’s run and fueling, our run continued to go well however around mile nine the damp, cold air started to chill the muscles and joints. Around mile ten we both got hungry. The next couple miles were a little challenging being hungry and having cold set in. The last mile home we talked only of which Bearded Brothers flavor we would eat and the Nuun flavor we would drink when we got home. Definitely should have at least brought a couple GU’s along just in case. Other than the hunger and cold, we both felt great on our longest run of our training plan thus far.
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12 miles is Ryan’s longest training run ever. He has ran four half marathons, but never ran training runs longer than 10 or 11 miles. We are unconcerned by pace right now as winter always causes slower times and greater perceived effort.

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Bearded Brothers is a new favorite bar of ours. Bearded Brothers bars are 100% natural with organic ingredients, vegan, gluten free, soy free AND taste delicious. Plus, they come in compostable packaging.

I am not always a huge bar person, but sometimes they are perfect for a pre-run snack or post-run snack. I love that Bearded Brothers offers a healthy and natural snack. I usually prefer to eat a meal 1.5 hours before a longer run. I can eat a smaller meal or snack minutes before leaving for a run. This training cycle we are both trying to eat healthier and not use our miles run and hard burned. In the beginning of my marathon training I often rewarded myself with treats and candy after long runs. After running more miles and marathons, I felt the need to do that less and less. I’m trying to continue on the healthy eating path as it really does make me feel better on a regular basis and I think I run better, too.

Ryan agrees with the feeling better when we eat better, and we are both looking to get in better shape. After our long run Saturday and Bearded Brothers snack we roasted up some chicken and veggies for dinner. I’d eaten most of my veggies when I thought to take this picture. We did enjoy some frozen yogurt later in the evening as we were hungry again.

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Balancing the hunger you can experience with marathon training and eating healthy can be a challenge. Making sure to fuel properly in advance of a long run and during a long run can prevent post-run pig out sessions. I also follow the rule that I only eat when I’m hungry. I’ve never been a snack just to snack person. I truly eat when I’m hungry and don’t when I’m not. Sometimes this gets me in trouble like on Wednesday when I didn’t feel hungry at lunch. I was then starving on my run on Wednesday.

Ryan’s Tip of the Week-As runs start to get longer, break the miles up into smaller sections to give yourself a better mental approach to the distance. This week I looked at the 12 miles, my longest training run yet, as a six mile loop and then an out and back six miles (3 out, 3 back). This approach mentally broke up the run making the distance seem much less mentally challenging.

Sarah’s Tip of the Week-Make sure to listen to your body and provide it appropriate hydration and fuel as your runs get longer. Rather than get frustrated if you bonk or have a rough time fueling, think of it as part of the training process. You are not just training your mind and legs to go the distance, but your entire body to travel many miles. Check out my fueling for the long run post tomorrow for more details-How to Fuel for the Long Run.

Total Miles-27 miles

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