Category Archives: Half Marathon

The Long Run

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Running Long

It doesn’t matter if you are training for a 5K, an Ultra Marathon or any distance in between, your weekly training plan will have one workout in common, the Long Run. It is the bread and butter of running. The Long Run, if it is done right, will increase your aerobic base, will build up your endurance and will boost your confidence. Is the Keystone of any running training program.

Slow and easy is something we hear a lot from coaches when it comes to Long Runs. You see, the Long run has many benefits and here are some of them:

  • Improves Oxygen use and Glycogen stores.
  • Trains the cardio, respiratory and muscular systems to work more efficiently.
  • Maximizes our ability to burn fat and spare our limited muscle carbohydrate (glycogen) stores as well as improving our leg strength.
  • It helps with resistance to fatigue both physical and mental.
  • Teaches patience and discipline.
  • Adapts tendons, ligaments, joints and bones to the stress of running (reduces chance of injury).
  • Increases the quantity of mitochondria (responsible for the conversion of food to usable energy).
  • Improves our focus and determination (especially in longer races).

And the list could possible go on a little longer (pun intended).

How long is the Long Run?

When it comes to the Long Run distance and pace aren’t so important. Time spent on your feet is! Anything between 45-90 minutes our body learns to increase its ability to transfer and use oxygen more efficiently (aerobic). It also builds muscle strength without too much stress.

Anything over 90 minutes our body learns to depend more on fat usage for energy instead of Glycogen (running efficiency). We all have almost an unlimited energy supply from fat but only a couple of hours of Glycogen.

If you are training for long races it is recommended to run no more than 180 minutes during your Long Run. Running for this long helps us accomplish two things. First, your legs will get very tired but will become stronger and better able to handle running for such long periods. Second, you will experience fatigue and have to be mentally strong to simply keep going, knowing that you are going to continue to feel tired. However, it’s important to remember that feeling tired is what training is about.

Besides all of these different benefits, you are also avoiding one of the number-one risk factors for injury. Going too fast, too far too quickly can be a recipe that doesn’t taste too good. If you are new to running start with 45 minutes and add 10 minutes every other week to your Long Run. Every three to four weeks cut back the time of your Long Run to give your legs and body some rest. Consistency and variety will keep you running for a long time!

Run Long

Takis

 

 

Running Nutrition

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Running Nutrition.

For any long distance runner, a Running Nutrition strategy is an absolute necessity. Do this wrong or don’t practice it before race day and you are risking failure. Is hard enough for our running bodies to cover the long distance add dehydration and/or lack of Carbohydrates and you have the “Bonk”. But not all fuel is created equally and not all runners can follow the same fueling techniques.

Practice Hydration

You should practice your hydration strategy during your long runs. After a few of those runs you should be able to dial in to exactly what works for you. Carry your hydration so you can sip along the course. This way you can avoid the slowing crowded runners at the water stops. Besides, the race may not be offering the same products you are used to hydrate with. If you don’t want to carry a bottle (or two) with you check with the race administrators to find out what they will be offering at the race. During your long runs practice with those same products. If you don’t want to carry your bottle, you may want to place water bottles along your route or park your car on a loop of 3-4 miles long so that you have access to your hydration . I personally carry my own bottle. On longer runs I double the concentration so I don’t have to carry more than one bottle. It works for me but may not for you. Practice it!

Fueling your Long Run

Glucose, sugar-the simplest of all Carbohydrates, is the main source of fuel in our body. Stored as Glycogen in our muscles and liver is the fasted burning fuel. A well-trained runner has about two hours of Glycogen supply to burn. It is very important to replenish the stores of it to avoid hitting the “Wall”. Again something you have to practice on your long runs along with hydration. Fuel is easy to carry with you. Raisins, dates, gummy bears, gels etc. all should fit in your short pockets. Find out what the race will be offering and practice with it if you don’t want to carry it. Always take 3-4 ounces of water (2-3 sips) with any fuel, it will be distributed to your muscles quicker.

Glycemic indexes for common sugars Scale: 0-100 where 100 raises blood glucose levels fastest

glucose ~99

maltodextrin ~85

high fructose corn syrup ~78

sucrose ~68

agave nectar, raw honey ~30

brown rice syrup ~25

fructose ~20

Choose your sugars wisely. Slow burning sugars (low glycemic) will burn slower and will sit in your stomach longer which can give you digestive problems while running.

Dialing in your Nutrition is never easy but with practice you will find what works the best for you. As with Everything else don’t try anything new on race day.

avoid the Bonk

Takis

The Spirit of Running

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The greatness of the Human Spirit

Running a Half Marathon is never easy. The amount of miles and time allocated to training before the race is enormous. For some runners it can be up to four months and even longer. Week after week, Long run after Long run. We all endure the weather elements and overcome the temptation of staying in bed on Saturday mornings. For some of us our race goal is to set a Best Personal record, for others is to simply finish the race.

During my running years I have come across many runners that have inspired me. Some I have met and others I’ve read about. Last week during the Palmetto Bluff Half Marathon I saw a woman walking around the Start area with a dog. She was wearing a pink T-shirt with the words “Visually Impaired” printed on the back. My curiosity was moved but in a very windy, cold and misty morning my attention was diverted back to the race that was about to start. A couple of minutes later the competitive runners lined up in the front, most of us in the middle and runners with strollers and dogs in the back. Race started.

 

“The Human Body Has Limitations; The Human Spirit Is Boundless”,                                                                                        Dean Karnazes.

I did not see that woman running until after I crossed the Finish line as I waited to cheer runners coming in. Then in a distance, the pink shirt runner appeared with her dog speeding towards the Finish line. A small crowd of spectators were cheering her on.

She crossed the Line with the biggest smile celebrating by punching the air with her fist. Then as she burst into tears she fell to the ground to give gratitude to her dog for her own accomplishment. A display not only of the strength of the Human Spirit but humility. After she accomplished what is impossible to many people she gave the credit to her dog for getting her to here. Her small hero had led her through the 13.1 mile race as he did countless miles before during training. He was a winner too! It was an incredible moment that has moved me forever. I will never forget how everyone around her was also moved. At that moment it was the Human Spirit in display in front of all spectators and runners.

“The true Test of a Champion is Not whether he can Triumph, but whether he can overcome Obstacles.”               Garth Stein

In that woman I could see: Courage, Ability, Strength and Determination. She had accomplished her goal through all that. She had endured the same wind and cold as all of us did. And did not gripe once about it. Her goal to achieve was much bigger than the elements. She and her running mate crossed the Finish line as Champions for that day.

She had displayed the top mental qualities of an Elite runner. Something that a lot of us struggle with and makes me envious of her. So many of us try to improve our running by training harder, faster and longer yet we overlook the obvious, the Spirit Running.

Takis

Palmetto Bluff Half Marathon Race

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 The Palmetto Bluff Half Marathon and 10K 2017

This race takes place in Bluffton South Carolina, USA, in a beautiful setting at the Palmetto Bluff exclusive gated community. Not fully built yet so most of the route is on nice wide paved roads surrounded with nothing but Southern Oaks, Pine trees, Palm trees and of course a lot of Palmettos. Starting the race early on Sunday morning adds to the serenity until the roads are overtaken by runners. About 700 registered runners take part, with the majority running the Half.

Race Report

This is the 3rd year I’m running the Half Marathon here. The first year I set a PR on this course. Last year I ended up walking a lot (bad choice of running shoes…a long story). This year my goal was to finish the course at a good pace without hurting my knee. As you may already know I have had knee issues the last couple of months. Not looking for a PR but a good solid run. A benchmark, if you’d like, to build on from here.

The weather

Overcast with light rain in spots and mostly misty. The temperature at start time 51F degrees. Breezy most of the time with gusts of 15 to 20 m/h. This could be a problem.

The Race

Runners were summoned to the Start line. The race is chip-timed so it doesn’t matter where you start from. it times you from the moment you cross the Start line till you cross it again on the way back to Finish. A very young lady (13 y.o) delivered us the National Anthem in an Amazing way and the race started shortly after that.

A thick crowd of runners made its way through the picturesque Town Center of the community. Within a few minutes we were out on open road with nothing but trees surrounding the course. The runners starting to settle into their paces. I was between 8:50 and 9:05. It felt within my comfort zone and wanted to keep it there. The first 4 miles went by quickly. The wind was not so bad. The tall trees that surrounded us blocked most of it. Rain and mist had cleared but it was still overcast. Miles 5 through 7 the course turned and the wind started to be noticeable but not too bad, yet. At mile 8 we came upon a surprise, the road pavement ended and now we were on a hard packed dirt road with loose gravel. Not good! It was about a third of a mile and we got back on pavement. Until now I had been pretty steady holding the pace around 8:50-9:05.

Later in the race

Suddenly the route turns slightly to the left and at an open field we have the wind head on for a mile and a half. There were moments that the wind was literally stopping me. My quads started to burn trying to push through this wall of resistance. Finally, mile 11 and we turned again from the wind and gave me a chance to compose myself but I had burned a lot to get at this point. At mile 12 we turned again and again facing the wind.

The last part of the race

By now we were back at the Town Center and the wind channelling through the buildings was coming strong at us. This was the worst part. Now the wind was at it’s strongest and I was spent. With only less than a couple of hundred of yards left we made a turn to the Finish to realize the course was short by almost a quarter of a mile, 12.89 miles to be exact not 13.1. Much to my surprise because the course had been spot on the last two years and it was USATF certified. This year they had to change the Start/Finish line and someone messed up. Official time 01:58:25. Happy with the knee and the effort!

Race support

Aid stations were placed throughout the course from 2 to 3 miles apart all offered water and Gatorade and with two of them stocked with GU. As far as I know they had enough to supply all runners. Volunteers were great directing the race but crowd support almost non existent.

Post race

The medals were nice as usual. The event provides everyone with water bottles, coffee and bananas. With your race entry you also get a coupon for a cup of beer crafted by a local brewery and a coupon for a BBQ sandwich. Sorry vegetarians you can have all you can eat bananas and maybe that is what happened since they ran out early.

Overall this is a good small venue and most likely I will be back next year!

My fuel: GenU (x2 servings) 30 minutes pre-race, water during the race, one Humma Plus Gel at mile 10. Water, a banana and a bagel (I brought my own) post race.

Takis