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Average_Jbob's blog

It's now just under 1 week until the Spartan Super in Asheville, N.C. so you know what that means . . . (or maybe you don't)  . . . it's Carb Load and Hydration Week!


(you:) What is Carb Load and Hydration Week?


Good question!  It's the BEST part of any training schedule!  It's the 6 days leading up to an event where you TAKE A BREAK from any training you have been doing, take it easy, and allow your body to RECOVER so you are well rested for your event!


(you:) But why is it called Carb Load and Hydration Week instead of Be Lazy and Rest Week?


Another great question!  Up until this point your emphasis has been on TRAINING. . .but for these 6 glorious days you shift that emphasis to EATING and DRINKING ONLY!  Of course, you need to be smart about what kind of foods you are eating and what liquids you are drinking. . .think of this as the period of time where you ALREADY have your body as physically prepared as it's going to be (if you haven't got it trained up yet, nothing in these 6 days is going to really tip the scales in your favor) and now you need to make sure it's properly fueled and well oiled.  (Food is the fuel and Liquids are the oil).


(you:) Why do you call it a Week when it's only 6 days?


Really?  Come on. . .I think you're getting caught up in the minutia and missing the bigger point here. . .but it stems from most of my events being on a Saturday and it being easier for me to mentally assign Sunday as the start of my training week. . .so the Carb Load and Hydration Week starts on Sunday and ends at the Event. . .I've gotten so used to the 6 days that even when I have a Sunday event I will slide the start of my Carb Load and Hydration Week to Monday so as to stay with 6 days.


(you:) Just how many times are you going to say Carb Load and Hydration Week in this post?


. . .moving on!

During this 6 days I try to make sure that the majority of my food is high in Carbs. . .Pasta, Bread, Nuts. . .balance in a few fruits also (of course). . .but around day 5 I will cut back on anything high in fiber, and on day 6 I will cut it out completely.  The Carb aspect is easy enough to understand. . .if you've been training regularly and pushing yourself up to this point, then your body has become used to the fact that it's going to need to store carbs in your muscle tissue in order to have them readily available for 'quick-burn-energy'. . .so when you eat a lot of carbs during these 6 days your body will continue doing what it's learned to do and store them up. . .do this correctly by taking it easy for these 6 days and your body will not be burning off the carbs like it normally would during your training, essentially creating a large stockpile of fuel ready for easy access come race day!  I cut back on the fiber when I do simply because I've learned that my body reacts better on race day the less my digestive tract has to think about. . .and fiber gives it TOO MUCH to think about, if you know what I mean. . .if you don't. . .just realize that the only MOVEMENT I want on race day is my body moving around the course!


Hydration is also a pretty easy concept to understand. . .you want to make sure that your muscles and joints are properly lubricated so that they slide and move easily without grinding and tearing. . .like oil in a car engine!  It wouldn't matter how much gas you put in your car, if you didn't keep the engine properly lubricated it's going to break down!  Likewise, you can Carb Load properly and have all the energy stores you need. . .but if you don't properly Hydrate then you are going to run a very high risk of injuring your joints or muscles!  Now, simply drinking a lot of water might seem like a good idea. . .and it's honestly NOT BAD. . .but you might actually find that you have MORE muscle cramps if you do.


(you:) Wait a minute. . .you said I should hydrate. . .but now you are saying I'll get muscle cramps?


Simply drinking MORE WATER can cause a greater chance of muscle cramps on your race day BECAUSE it causes you to pee more AND you will be peeing away some very valuable electrolytes that you'll NEED on race day!  You need to be putting electrolytes BACK INTO your body AS you hydrate in order to balance this out!  SO. . .what I have learned works is a basic 2 - 1 mixture of an electrolyte drink to water.  For me, it looks like this:  2 20oz bottles of Gatorade and 1 20oz bottle of water a day.  I'll simply refill one of the 20oz bottles of Gatorade with water after I'm done with it.  That's 60oz of liquid a day with a 2 -1 mixture ration of electrolyte drink and water!  You might drink more or less than that, but the important part is that you replenish your body with electrolytes as you up the liquid amount so that come race day you are well lubricated AND less prone to cramps!


Now, you CAN do SOME exercise during this 6 week period. . .but I highly advise against anything that pushes you at all!  I'll emphasize stretching just to keep loose. . .and maybe around day 4 I'll do a VERY short VERY light jog with full equipment just as a mental shake down so that I know everything feels good in my joints and muscles. . .and to squelch any final nagging issues with gear choices.  But really, the hardest part of this 6 day period should be that you KNOW you are only a few days away from that event you've been training for. . .and there's nothing else left to do from a training standpoint. . .you're either physically ready or you aren't. . .so all you can do at this point is rest, eat, drink, and wish that you could just start already!


For me, I've been checking the weather reports for the Asheville area (black mountains just east of Asheville actually) and so far it shows a high of 83 degrees and scattered thunderstorms!  It can all change quickly in the next few days. . .but I'm mentally prepping myself for constant rain!  I'm running it with my 16 year old son and it will be his 1st Spartan Super (8-10 miles, 24-29 obstacles). . .he's done Spartan Sprints before (3-5 miles, 20-23 obstacles) but this will be his second stop on his first ever Spartan TriFecta (doing all 3 distances in 1 calendar year. . .Sprint, Super, and Beast)!  I'm really looking forward to seeing him accomplish his goal and it's shaping up to be a great event with the possibility of some 'interesting' weather!


My next post will be a little delayed due to traveling. . .but it will be a recap of the event!  Until then, I'm going to get back to my rigorous schedule of eating, drinking and resting!

It's been a while since my last post. . .I suppose that can speak toward the fact that I'm not only an AVERAGE JBOB runner, but also an AVERAGE JBOB blog poster as well!


I never meant to have this blog be a guide for how one should train. . .which is GOOD because I don't think it has become that!  I only say that to underline the fact that this blog should be read with the idea that it's simply a window into the life of someone who started running for their health and then continued running because they got a sense of accomplishment out of it!  Sometimes it feels like I haven't been doing this for very long, but I looked at my race event shirts over the weekend and my earliest one was a 5K from November 2013.  I wouldn't say I was serious about running back then but it is a clear marker of when I started.  Back then I saw 3.1 miles as a long distance that should be achievable and was very unhappy with the knowledge that I could barely cover it without feeling like I was going to DIE!  Lagging behind the rest of my family (wife and 3 boys) who were ALL faster than me was not what I wanted out of life and it spurred me on.  Not that I wanted to beat them (sure I did) but because I wanted to LEAD them by EXAMPLE.  To show them that working at something and pushing yourself to move forward when it isn't easy is not only worthwhile, but EXPECTED.  That the only way you can ever truly be a 'loser' is if you quit.  Not winning a race does not make you a 'loser'. . .as long as you continue to finish what you start and continue to work toward improvement, then in my book you are just as good as the guy getting first place!  In fact, I believe it's easier to continue running races when you win than when you finish in the middle or back of the pack.  You won't be celebrated by anyone other than yourself and maybe a few friends and family, and yet you continue to work just as hard (as what you are able) as the guy getting all the glory on the finisher podium.


At least that's my mindset as one of those guys who finishes in the middle of the pack!  :)


Anyway. . .I'm currently working toward being ready for my next event AND my next milestone in running!  My next event is only 12 days away on August 4th.  It's a Spartan Super in Asheville, North Carolina. . .and I'm running it with my 16 year old son who I'm proud to say decided to go for his 1st ever Spartan TriFecta this year AFTER he had an absolutely horrible experience at the Spartan Sprint at Dodger Stadium.  It wasn't his first Spartan Sprint, in fact it was his 4th, but he was determined that Spartan wasn't his thing and it would be his final event. . .not sure if he didn't train for it enough or just had a bad day, but it kicked his butt so hard that he was seriously demoralized by mid course and didn't want me to run with him anymore since he was sure he was holding me back. . .I went ahead of him on his request and I think being left to his own thoughts he came to the conclusion that he wouldn't be happy if he quit doing Spartans and had his final event crush him.  So after the event he surprised me by announcing that he wanted to finish out his TriFecta!  If you don't know what that is. . .Spartan has 3 basic length categories for their events: Sprint = 3-5 miles, Super = 8-10 miles, and Beast = 12-14 miles. . .the longer the distance the more the obstacles with the Beast having up to 35!  You earn your TriFecta by completing all 3 event lengths in one calendar year.  So this next event I'm running is with him and it's his first ever Super!  I'm looking forward to it and it's been good to see how hard he's pushing himself to be ready!  If he allows me to pace with him I hope to be a good encouragement to him, but if he wants to run by himself I hope to be ok with that too!  :)


The next milestone I'm training for is my first full marathon.  I'm planning on running the L.A. Marathon on March 24th in 2019.  I'm not using any 'training plan' on an app for it since I have other events between that I need to be ready for, but rather I'm simply trying to increase my distance by extending my long run.  Every couple of weeks I do a longer road run than normal and this past Saturday was the first time I have ever run 15 miles in one go.  Now, the term 'running' might be a bit misleading since it would probably look more like slow jogging since I'm trying to train my slow-twitch muscles at the same time. . .it took me just over 3 hours to do and by the end my joints were very sore and I was walking for short distances for the last couple of miles.  I think I'll keep my long run at 15 miles for a while and extend it again once I feel more comfortable with this length.

After the run my feet were pretty sore, but not too sore that I couldn't get my boys and walk down to the local 7-11 for a round of slurpee's!  The walk was around 1.5 miles round trip and I must say that it felt good to walk. . .by the end my feet were not as sore as they had been, so it was probably a good cool down.  Besides, I really needed the complex sugars!  It was 100 degrees out by that time!  When I started my 15 mile run it was upper 70's, and by the time I finished it was 100!


The other thing I did over the weekend was go to the local Gym with my 16 year old so we could toss around some weight in preparation for the upcoming Spartan. . .he's really thin and conscious about the amount he can lift since he feels like he's not as strong as other kids. . .I can understand since that was ME at his age. . .honestly it took me until I was in my 20's before I started being able to gain any kind of muscle. . .we're more built for speed than contact. . .but he's come a long ways!  I really hope he sees a good payoff for his training with this event.  I'll report back how it went afterward.  I'm just really proud that he didn't let his bad experience define his abilities, but rather he looked the Spartan Race series straight in the eye, got back up and signed up for the TriFecta!  Not being willing to go out on his back, he's swinging for the fences!  I know it's inspiring to me and pushes me forward in my training. . .I don't want to be the one who cannot keep up with him!  :)

I know it's a re-occurring theme here on my blog, and I apologize if it sounds repetitive (what else could it be if it's re-occurring though, really?). . .but I'm finding that the most difficult part of my training plan ISN'T what I have planned to do. . .but rather, it's to START DOING what I have planned to do!  Once I get out the door, press PLAY on my audio selection, press START on my Garmin watch, and actually begin putting one foot in front of the other everything works itself out.  The HARD part is actually getting up the MOTIVATION to BEGIN the process in the first place!


Feel like you've read this one before?

(probably because you have)

Well, I feel like I've written this one before.

(probably because I have)

Fact of the matter is that I consider myself to be a very average runner / athlete with dreams of one day being considered un-ordinary in what I've been able to accomplish. . .and if YOU are also an average runner / athlete, then you have probably also come to the same conclusion as I have:


THE HARDEST PART OF ANY WORKOUT IS GETTING STARTED!


So here we go (again) with a few things to help MOTIVATE you to GET STARTED!:


1:  SIGN UP FOR AN EVENT!

Nothing helps motivate training like being signed up for an actual Event!  Just knowing that at a date in the not-so-distant-future you will be expected to run a 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, Spartan Sprint, etc. should give your motivation a good-ole kick in the back side!  Especially if you are the one who signed up AND paid good money!  Signing up with friends will also help since you know there will be witnesses!  If you are new to running and just trying to get in shape (maybe a less-rounded shape than you are currently in), then a 5k will be sufficient!  However, if you are a seasoned runner who's been doing 5 and 10k's already, then sign up for that Half Marathon you think people are insane for doing.  The point is to sign up for something that SCARES you and yet at the same time you kind of wish you were able to do.  Nothing motivates nearly as well as the FEAR OF FAILURE!  Just make sure the event isn't for that weekend. . .schedule it at least a couple of months out so you have time to properly prepare.  FEAR FAILURE but PLAN FOR SUCCESS!


2:  MAKE A PLAN!

OK, now that you have signed up for an event, I guess it's time to lay back on your couch with a bag of chips and start to bing watch documentaries on endurance athletes!

WRONG!

While it CAN BE MOTIVATING to watch other people accomplish great things, what you want here is to prepare YOURSELF to be able to accomplish what you signed up for in step 1!  Don't just assume that you're going to 'get prepared', or 'go for a run'.  Be purposeful in your planning.  It can be difficult when you are just starting out to know how to effectively train for an event.  Where do you start?  What do you do?  For the sake of this example, let's assume at you haven't been running and you are signed up for a 5k Race.  Sit down with a calendar (I use google calendar) and write your event down on the date it's happening (duh).  Now for the trick. . .PLAN BACKWARDS!  Since this is a 5k, let's plan the final training run to be 4 miles, and schedule it for 1 week before your race.  Leave the last week for rest, carb loading, and hydration.  Now work backwards from there. . .scheduling easier and easier workouts until you get to the present day.  THERE!  Now you have a road map of what you should be doing FROM your existing fitness level TO the fitness level you will need for your event!  NOW DO IT!  :)


3:  TELL A FRIEND OF YOUR PLAN!

If that friend is a runner it will help since they are less likely to look at you like you're a raving lunatic. . .LESS likely.  Nevertheless, verbalizing a plan can help solidify it in your mind.  Once it's been spoken to someone you know, it's more likely that you will follow thru with it on the off-chance that they ask you about how it's going.  If they are a runner they will be coming from a place of encouragement:

     You can do it!  Keep at it!  You're going to do great!

If they are NOT a runner. . .well. . .it's going to be from a place of entrapment:

     Too hard, wasn't it?  I knew you'd bitten off a bit much.  Watched a documentary, did you?

Either way. . .once you've told someone what you are planning on doing. . .you'll either get busy doing it and embrace the looks of disbelief that you have succeeded where others refuse to try. . .or you'll get busy trying to think of ways out of what you said you'd do that are believable so you save as much face as possible. . .I'd advise just following thru with your plan. . .it's easier, and you've already figured it out!


4:  GET SOME NEW GEAR!

If your already a seasoned runner then you already have a method of training and a plan you like to stick to.  You either already have a running group that you talk to and share plans with or you 'lone-wolf' it and talk to no one. . .you have your routine already and don't need any help with it. . .and maybe that's the problem.  You might just be stuck in a rut of doing the same thing over and over again and it's just gotten a bit stale.  Well. . .as a runner you will also know that gear wears out.  You need new shoes every 300-500 miles (depending on what type of shoe you have). . .sometimes you just need to get excited about a new pair of running shoes in order to get excited about going for another run!  Case in point, I had a pair of Nike Free RN Distance shoes a few years back that I LOVED. . .by the time I needed new shoes they didn't make those anymore and I bought the Nike Free RN Distance 2 shoe that WAS being made.  It was fine, but I just didn't love it as much as the original shoe.  Still, I used the 2's until I needed another pair and moved on to a pair of Saucony Ride 9's.  I love them!  They are great shoes!  However I recently have been in a bit of a rut in my training and having a hard time motivating MYSELF (hence this blog post). . .and I also am about to need new shoes again. . .so I decided to visit my local Nike Clearance Store where LOE AND BEHOLD I found a pair of ORIGINAL Nike Free RN Distance in my size for a fraction of the cost they used to be!  SCORE!  You KNOW I snatched those up and I COULDN'T WAIT to go for a run that night!  New gear CAN equal new motivation!


5:  REMEMBER WHERE YOU STARTED!

This one is for seasoned runners.  Remember what fitness level you were at when you first started running.  Sometimes a lack of motivation comes from a lack of understanding the progress you've already made.  If you are consistently running 3 times a week with a long run of 5+ miles, then remember back when you started and 1 mile was a HUGE deal!  Recognizing that you've made progress can sometimes be all you need to break a slump and keep moving forward.  Helping out a friend who is just starting out can also help you continue to train.  Knowing that others look to you as an example of what they might be able to do is a HUGE motivator to keep on going.  Show them what's possible just as you may have been motivated by others when you first started.


These are just a few suggestions on how to stay motivated. . .there are many more. . .feel free to share what motivates you in the comments below!  I'd love to hear it. . .maybe I can use it too?  :)  After all, I'm supposed to run 9 miles tonight and I'd be lying if I said I was 'looking forward' to it. . .BUT I know that I'm going to get home from work this afternoon and it will be SUPER HOT outside. . .I'll be tired. . .I'll want to just relax. . .I'll be sore. . .I'll be hungry. . .I'll be most anything but in the mood to run. . .until I get my running shoes laced up and step outside. . .press play on my audio selection. . .press start on my Garmin device. . .and place one foot in front of the other.  After that. . .the rest will take care of itself.


Keep running,

Average_Jbob