I went out for my weekend long run today, following a similar route to last week. This week’s run was very different though thanks to my carb drinking experiment.
I’ve been a bit of a running geek over the last couple of months and have been reading Women’s Running magazine. It’s inspiring stuff – lots of stories, training plans and vaguely scientific info – and has helped me structure my training plan much better than I would have been able to before. I did pick up a copy of Runner’s World once a few months ago, but didn’t like it nearly as much. It seemed far more focused on marathons, which meant that a lot of the info was pretty irrelevent to a little 10K-er like myself. The Women’s Running mag’s content was much broader and so I have carried on buying it. The one thing it kept mentioning that I didn’t understand though were the running gels and drinks. I knew about carb loading (eating your body weight in pasta the night before a long run or race – amazing) and I knew that it was sensible to drink lots of water, but I had no idea what all the hardcore runners were talking about when they started mentioning gels and complex carbs and electrolyte replacements and power bars…
I started doing a bit of research by Googling the products that were being advertised. I discovered that the products seem to fall into 3 categories: things to take before running, during the run and after running.
Pre-run products are supposed to load you up with caffeine and carbs that will be used up over the course of the run. Some also claim to make you more alert and get you in the ‘running zone’, but I’m pretty sure that ‘s just the caffeine and the motivational packaging.
Products for during the run are mostly designed for rehydration and refuelling. They normally contain electrolytes, which in easy terms is the salt in our bodies that is lost when we sweat loads. Sports drinks are normally loaded with electrolytes to rehydrate you faster than water. Some also contain more energy boosting ingredients too.
Post-run products are designed to aid recovery. They contain stuff that helps your muscle fibres stick back together to prevent damage.
As you can tell, I’m no scientist! So I decided to visit my local health food/supplement store for some advice. The sales assistant I spoke to wanted to know how I normally prepared for my runs. He seemed quite shocked when I told him that I never took a drink with me (I don’t like carrying anything!), but also that a glass of water and a good dinner is all it takes to fix me up afterwards. He suggested something to drink immediately before and during the run to give me an energy boost and help me to increase my distance. This seemed like a good plan, as I have been struggling to increase my distance on the weekend, and so I am now the proud owner of a massive tub of orange flavoured carb/caffeine powder.
I used to take the piss out of people who took these supplements and so I was pretty hesitant about taking them myself, but the difference that it made to my run today was unbelievable. I was 5K in before I even began to feel the slightest bit tired and I managed the slow gradients on the double back home without any difficulty. I don’t think there was anything placebic about it, because by the time I got home, I was beginning to feel tired out – but that was a good 3K later than last week. I didn’t take a drink out with me, but perhaps I should do that next week and plan a longer route. Let’s see how good this stuff really is!
Oh, and if you’re wondering what I take post-run, I once read that milk is a great recovery aid as our muscles absolutely love the calcium. So I like to pick up a carton of chocolate milk on the way home, run a bath and pat myself on the back.
Today I have been drinking Maxifuel Viperboost and ran 8K in 40mins.