My girlfriend and I are both undertaking our first Reading half marathon (RHM) in mid-March.
We have both been training since early November and with 4 runs a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun) and some of resistance & core exercises we are starting to make some decent progress in terms of the distance we can now cover.
I managed my first 10 mile run on Sunday and felt good afterwards. Sore in places, but with 7 weeks to go I’m feeling happy that I will be able to make the full race distance in a respectable time. My girlfriend on the other hand really struggled on her 9 mile run. The problem seems to be with running on Sunday mornings from around 10am. We need to get used to running at this time in the morning, as the race starts at 10am. She can cover good ground on a week night, but Sunday mornings do not seem to agree with her. We get up 2 hours before our run to have breakfast. She makes sure she drinks lots of water whilst running, but nearly always ends up with a stitch and doesn’t seem to have any energy whilst out.
She needs to get this sorted, as she’s not enjoying her Sunday runs atm, which is effecting her confidence, and that’s making her nervous about race day.
Does anyone have any advice as to what she can do to get round this lack of energy?
congrats on doing your first 10mile run. The first thing that occured to me was that you're perhaps not fuelled well enough, but you say you're eating breakfast a couple of hours before the run, so i'm guessing that contains some carbs for energy. could it be you're running too fast on your sunday morning runs? these can be taken nice and slowly, in what may feel like a plod at first. perhaps take out some sports drink with you (or you could make your own with some juice, water etc, just needs to have some sugar and ideally some salts in it). or try gels. however, for that distance you shouldn't need that much fuelling during the run.
i'm assuming you're getting a good night's sleep on Saturday nights, not drinking and eating well through the rest of the week, and that you're not finding the other runs tiring? if you don't feel like you're getting the best out of your sunday morning runs, try moving them back by an hour or so, do them later in the day when you may have more energy, to buld confidence that you can do the distance. then as the race day gets nearer, try some shorter runs at the same race time (10am Sunday) to give you experience of running at that time. The extra excitement on race day will help you get off well, and probably raise your adrenaline a bit, and if you fuel well and don't go out too hard you'll be fine.
You seem to be doing the right things, but its not working for your girlfriend. As AG mentioned, you need to make sure you get enough sleep and also eat well on the Saturday, and stay hydrated (e.g avoid alcohol the day before) - but your post suggests that you are already doing this.
I'm just wondering if you're being too careful. You should be able to complete 10 miles based on your energy reserves and without taking on water. Maybe the stitch is because of the breakfast and/or the water during the run? Next sunday, your girlfriend could skip breakfast, have some water about an hour before the run and then try it? Ideally, if you run together, you could carry some water and sugary snacks for her just in case. Once she's tried this, she may find that her ideal preparation lies somewhere between starting on "empty" and the breakfast & refreshment regime she's already tried.
I regularly run up to two hours (circa 15 miles) in the morning with only a cup of coffee to get started. This isn't that unusual (for runners anyway!) and there's quite a few that dont even have the coffee.
NB The one thing you don't mention in your post is the pace that you are running. Make sure you take it easy on the Sunday long run, running at least a minute per mile slower than your target race pace.
The last thing anyone should to eat before a run is a bowl full of sugar.
Running is dependant on having a balanced level of sugar in the blood stream.
Added sugar just upsets this level.
Ironically, by taking on refined sugar you can end up with low blood sugar levels.
If you've been building up continuously, your girlfriend might benefit from a drop-back week, especially if she has never run this sort of distance before. Why not drop back down to 7 this weekend then move up to 10 the following week?
Thank you for all the replies folks.
Breakfast is a bowl of porridge and half a banana. She makes sure to drink a couple of glasses of water beforehand, and takes some water with her whilst running. Her pace is slightly slower than that of the shorter runs during the week and she has dropped the Wednesday night run, as she was finding four runs too much in a week now they are all getting longer.
She is happy with the amount of sleep she is getting, although I think an extra hour wouldn’t hurt, and I know the night before the race we’ll both be getting to bed a bit earlier. Alcohol consumption is almost zero, and we never drink the night before a run so it’s not that either.
Not sure about running on “empty”, but I understand what works for one person doesn’t for someone else, so that is something else to consider. I did mention dialling back the distance of the Sunday run, but that idea didn’t go down very well. She is keen to keep the Sunday runs long to help prepare for the race. But as I mentioned above she is now dropping the Wednesday night run, so that may help. If that doesn't work then reducing the distance for a week might be a good idea.
It’s clear she doesn’t have the energy she needs first thing in the morning, as she felt drained within the first couple of miles and it’s just a case of finding the right balance. We are going to pop into our local Sweatshop on Saturday and have a chat with the staff and maybe pick up some gels. Maybe adding an energy drink during or possibly during the run might be enough.
I'm guessing the stitch is due to overhydration. I don't drink on runs up to 12 miles, and certainly wouldn't be drinking "plenty of water".
The lack of energy is a different issue. You should be able to manage 10 miles with no fuelling quite easily. Maybe leave longer between breakfast and the run (I aim for at least 2 hours between finishing a light meal and a run)
Can she get in a couple of early runs during the week, just 2 miles or so to get the body more used to running in the morning?
I think having an earlier breakfast or going out slightly later would help. I'm sure when we started our Sunday runs they were from 11am, and as they have gotten longer we have started earlier (closer to 10am). Normally breakfast is 1hr 45min before the run, so I'll see if she can extend that time.
Unfortunately there is no chance of doing any other morning runs which is a shame. As I have been doing lunchtime runs from work which I think have helped my body adjust to running at different times of the day. She only runs after work or Sunday mornings. We have been Sunday morning running since early November, so I would have thought she'd have gotten used to them by now.
The reason for the extra water before the run, is because she had issues after a timed 10k event where she felt sick afterwards, which St John's Ambulance staff put down to lack of hydration, so I don't think it would be that. I'll ask her about her breathing techniques as I understand short shallow breathing can cause a stitch, where as deep "belly breaths" can help to reduce this.
have you checked that the wed/ frid ay runs are not too intensive or too hard so that she is actualy tired going out for the long run ........trying to build up sped and distance at the same time does not work for everyone
I used to feel sick just at the end of and after races (though not slower runs) if I'd had coffee at any time beforehand, so I stopped doing that, but I don't drink water during a run that length, or immediately beforehand and don't have hydration problems. If her wee is a normal colour she might find she's hydrated enough and doesn't need masses of extra water, but she can just take it along in case she's thirsty.
2 things come to mind -
is she running at your pace and that is too much for her? perhaps you are ok and she needs to slow down
If you eat carbs the night before you should be good to go in the morning. so a bowl of pasta on saturday night should fuel her. perhaps try a sports gel as well at 6 miles, it should help with a boost.
I used to have this problem myself i found leaving 3 hours between breakfast and running did the trick for me.
YoungPup wrote (see)
J8mie - the only thing I would add to the above is to recommend that your girlfriend thinks about Friday night as well... I find that my energy levels on a run operate on about a 24-48 hr lag from my sleep levels, so if I was doing a long run on a Sunday, the key night's sleep for me would be Friday night rather than Saturday... This may be random nonsense in terms of physiology, but it works for me
What are you suggesting?
Lets keep things civilised.
RicF/YP - it's really funny this thread has finally got round to this subject as that was my first thought when reading the OP about lack of energy on a Sunday run but perhaps that is just the way my marital life is planned.
Must admit though it's a bit confusing that J8mie is fine but GF lacks energy - perhaps a session on Jeremy Kyle is required?? Or perhaps you are just better at it than me J8mie!!!
I think everyone is onto something here. I would only add that you don't need to get used to racing in the morning by trying it on every single training weekend. Run in the afternoon if it's more convenient and feels better. You'll carry yourself through with excitement on race-day for a one-off earlier start.
You just need to establish how long before you need to be done with eating (if at all), and I agree three hours is more like it, maybe a banana at 2 hrs.
dean richardson 7 wrote (see)
2 things come to mind - is she running at your pace and that is too much for her? perhaps you are ok and she needs to slow down If you eat carbs the night before you should be good to go in the morning. so a bowl of pasta on saturday night should fuel her. perhaps try a sports gel as well at 6 miles, it should help with a boost.
You don't need anything extra for a 10 mile run. No extra calories, no extra liquid. Tell her to slow down.
could it be that your early morning sunday run is always going to be harder than an evening run. You have to take into account that first thing in the morning your legs will be more stiff because you haven't moved around much overnight, whereas in the evening your muscles and tendons should be more pliable due to moving around all day.
I always find running on a sunday morning much harder than in the afternoon/evening. In addition I always find it easier to have breakfast after the running (I just have a banana before going out).
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