If you had told me 5 years ago that I would, one day, get up at 6.30 am on a Sunday and then run 13 kilometers – FOR FUN! I would have made a discreet phone call and had you referred to a specialist unit where you could receive the necessary care because you were clearly experiencing an altered state of mind.
This thought, and many others, crossed my mind as I did indeed run 13 km this morning. And what a glorious, sunny, warm morning it was too. It was a privilege to experience it at such close hand. If I am totally honest, I think run might be stretching the point as I was deliberately keeping my pace very slow, a perceived effort level of 5-6, which meant the hills were mostly walked (except the final one at 12 kms, I totally went for that one).
This run was the latest in my Half Marathon training plan and again the furthest I have ever run. As I knew it was going to take longer than 90 minutes, I decided the time had come to get serious about fueling my run. I have not really felt this necessary until now and frankly the topic can be a bit overwhelming when you Google it.
Living in a rural area, I don’t have the “local running store” so beloved of most of the running magazines and websites for supplies and information. My closest running store is a 2 and half hour drive away in Dublin, slightly stretching the definition of local. As a result, I cannot just pop into a shop and buy the gels/chews/ Gu/ Hammer/Ucan etc so often recommended.
So I decided to make my own.
Pinterest has a vast amount of recipes for fuel balls, gels and energy bars. I had none of the ingredients for any of them. In addition, I recently tried eating half a Clif bar on one run and found my poor, small brain simply couldn’t chew and run at the same time and I was worried about choking myself. I decided to make my own fuel drink instead.
I’m just going to go off on a tangent for a moment to stay I am deliberately not going to use the phrase Sports Drink here. I am sure you are aware of the links between these types of drink and obesity, especially in children, and feel that the title Sports Drink is a massive marketing misnomer that should be challenged. They are just highly sugary drinks aimed at kids. Rant endeth here.
Googling brought me to a simple recipe and I had all the ingredients – water, lemon juice, honey and salt (you can see it here Gabby’s Homemade electrolyte drink. I decided not to use the ginger water as I wasn’t sure how my stomach would react). Simple. I mixed them up in the right amounts and put it in the fridge for the morning.
There are some more nice recipes here Homemade Running Drinks, I think I will try the cherry one next.
I had also invested a considerable amount of time reading about fueling strategies and glycogen stores and other lovely running nerdy details. I was reminded by every article of the importance of trying a number of fueling solutions to find what works best for you. I decided on the very simple strategy of drinking 1/4 of my drink at every 3.2 km covered, a nice, consistent approach. Do you know what? It worked! My simple, cheap, quite tasty concoction saw me comfortably to the end and I felt much better for the last 2 kilometers than I had on my 11k run 2 weeks ago. I was also able to get on with my busy day without too much tiredness.
My post run fueling was also very simple. We had a BBQ to make the most of the glorious weather and I ate it. All of it. All the protein was mine.