Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chicago's (Race-Like) Lakefront Trail.

I am fortunate to live close to Chicago's Lakefront trail. It's a half mile walk (or I should say warm-up) from our condo to the trail at Lake Shore Drive and Fullerton Parkway (photo below). I wait to turn on my Garmin GPS watch until I get close to the lake; all the buildings inland make it harder to acquire the satellite signals.

The walk to the trail feels like the prep before a race. Make sure everything's tied snug, the watch is working, the legs are loose, the hair is snugly secured in the hair tie, etc.

Once you get on the trail it's go time. You hit start on the watch and you start running. In a way it's like getting onto the expressway; you wait for a clear spot in the traffic and then you dart in.

The traffic on the lakefront trail mimics the feel of being in a race. Someone passes you and so you pick up the pace... or you see a girl an eighth of a mile ahead of you with a purple shirt on and you make her your next goal. There's lots to look at, and a lot of ways to track your progress. When I head north there are trees that line the path by the tennis courts near Belmont; I like to count how many steps it takes to get between those perfectly placed trees. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8... eight steps to get from tree A to tree B; next time I'll make it 7 steps. Or maybe every time a bike passes I'll sprint for 10 seconds and try to keep up with him.

Another element that makes running the trail like a race are the Fleet Feet aid stations along the path, where runners pick up their Gatorade or water and scurry along.

The running groups training for Fall marathons also adds to race-like environment. It's good practicing for being in tight congested areas. You'll also get the occasional "keep it up" from the running groups, or high-fives from a random dude carrying a skateboard.

Living in Chicago and running long distances, the lakefront trail is really the best way to go. It mimics a race environment in so many ways and provides a great surface (minus Chicago traffic lights!) to get the bigger miles in.

A great map of Chicago's lakefront trail can be downloaded here (PDF).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Gatorlytes vs. Muscle Cramping.

This morning at 4am I put a couple ice cubs in an 8 ounce glass and filled it half full w/ Fruit Punch Gatorade Endurance, half full with water and a full packet of Gatorlytes made by Gatorade. The mix has 0 calories, but is packed full or Potassium (400mg) and Sodium (780mg) as well as 10% of ones daily requirement for Magnesium. As stated on their website, the mix is for athletes that suffer from cramping. That's certainly me!

It was flavorless, aside from adding a more salty taste to the Fruit Punch Gatorade Endurance flavor. It didn't upset my stomach at all, but I did wait for over an hour before I ran; on their website it says to take it 60-90 minutes before your "competition". It was a cool day out (averaged around 60 during my run) so this probably played a part in how great I felt, but even at cooler temps I usually still get crampy after 15 miles.

15 miles came and gone and I thought to my self, "alright cramps, where are you?" Mile 16, nothing. Mile 17 a little soreness in my hips, but no cramps. Mile 18 still no cramps!

Was it the Gatorlytes that took care of my horribly distracting and painful calf cramps that usually arise? I have a feeling it was! It was great to run past 15 for the first time without the pain! I'll test again on my 20 mile run. If I am cramp free on my 20 mile training run, then I'll stock up on the mix. I might also bring a packet as a "just in case" during the marathon, as it says you can use it during activity as well.

As a side note, this stuff is a little hard to find. The only places that currently sell it are GNC and Dicks Sporting Goods.

Tip - GNC has mix and match buy one get one free on Gatorade products through the end of Sept!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

18-Mile Training Run.

This Saturday I will be running 18 miles in preparation for the Columbus Marathon in October. It will be my longest distance this year (I ran 16 miles two weeks back). I'm still tweaking my fueling strategy for the race; I'm feeling a bit tight, crampy (and cranky!) at the end of my long runs. I found out that raisins are high in potassium, so I think I'm going to take a small box of those with me this time around – they are small and seem easy enough to digest. See my race plan below that I'll be practicing this weekend.

Two Days Before:
Breakfast: cereal and soy milk, orange juice
Lunch: something healthy, high carb, high protein and low in fat
Snack(s): banana, raisins, bagel
Dinner: simple pasta w/ marinara, bread
Drink: extra water

Day Before:
Breakfast: something healthy, high carb, high protein and low in fat, orange juice
Lunch: something healthy and low in fat
Snack(s): banana, raisins, bagel, gatorade
Dinner: simple pasta w/ marinara, bread
Drink: 20oz of Gatorade Endurance Formula, extra water

Morning of Run:
Pre-Breakfast: Gatorlytes Mix & 20oz of Gatorade Endurance Formula
Breakfast: bagel with peanut butter, banana, orange juice

During Run:
Gatorade Endurance Formula (3-5oz approx. every 1.25m at the 21 aid stations)
Water w/ Nuun Tablet (3oz every 10 minutes)
Carb Boom Gel (every hour)
Shot Blox (1 every half hour)
Raisins (half box at miles 5, 10, 15, 20)

After Run:
Immediately - Odwalla Super Protein Chocolate drink, banana
Within 2 hrs - full meal