That’s actual sweat, not glitter, I swear

One re-discovery and one idea came out of yesterday’s 15-mile run.

The re-discovery was that I really, really can’t run in direct sunlight. It kills my energy. It was only 85°, but I started too early—while the sun was still high in the sky. That, and I tried a new route without realizing how much more exposed it is than my normal one. By the time I hit my 6-mile water stop, I was already flagging and having to work harder than I should have. I had applied sunscreen, so I wasn’t getting burned, but I could feel myself overheating.

At the 10-mile mark I had to stop for quite a bit longer than the 60 seconds I had planned. I doused my legs and neck with water from nearly every fountain I passed, but that only helped in half-mile increments. When the sun finally hit the treeline in the last 3 miles of my run I felt like a weight had been lifted, and I was able to crank it back up for a 9:00/mile finishing pace.

Long story short: I won’t be running before dusk again any time before October-ish. I’m just too much of a pansy when it comes to direct sunlight.

But! The corollary to all of this is that I really do think I’ve got my energy maintenance during a run down cold. For future reference, and those who care:

  • Gel every 3½-4 miles. I prefer Hammer, as Gu gives me an instant headache, but whatever works for you. Carbs per gel: 23g.

  • Take a 60-second break when you gel. Seriously. Not just slowing to a walk, but to a full stop. Keep moving a little so you don’t seize up, but keep in mind that the goal isn’t to make forward progress, but to let your legs breathe and clear out all of the toxic crap that has been building up in the last hour.

  • For fluids, I mix one packet of Hammer Perpetuem and one packet of Hammer HEED and split it across however many water bottles I’m going to use. The Perpetuem is meant for activities longer than 2 hours, so it’s overkill for anything less. Carbs per packet: 54g for Perpetuem, 25g for HEED.

  • If I go through 3 gels and all of my fluids, that’s a total of 148g of carbs. That’s probably more than I need for just 2½ hours, but I’d rather go too high than too low and crash.

The idea part relates back to the question I asked earlier in the week: how can I stay focused on endurance runs? The audiobooks are doing a pretty good job (this week was Steven Gould’s Jumper), but I am curious to see if foreign language instruction would work. I figure that I now spend 6 hours per week running, and while that takes a hefty chunk out of my audiobook pile, I feel that I could be putting that time to better use.

Of course, it might also be a horrible idea. Right now, my runs are clarifying and calming. If I am productive during my runs, will that take away from that effect? I’m not sure. But, I’ll give it a try one some of my shorter runs next week and see how it goes. Should I go for something useful, like Spanish or Japanese? Or maybe something interesting like Cherokee, Navajo, or Maori? (No, I’m not saying those aren’t useful languages, just that I can’t imagine I’d personally ever find myself using them.)