#18: I love it when a plan comes together

In the Eisenhart household, we were pretty sheltered when it came to the luxuries that “everybody else” got growing up, including TV (getting “cable” was a huge deal…..even just the free channels), but we did love those all American classics like Knight Rider, the Greatest American Hero (sing it with me, believe it or not, I’m walking on air) and of course the A-Team.  So, if you were a product of the awesome television era too, the title of this week’s blog conjures up an image of Hannibal Smith puffing away on his cigar…….and I am ECSTATIC to report, this week would’ve made good ol’ Hannibal proud.  No, I didn’t mount a huge gun on the front of my aerobars or wear that camouflage speedo…..but this was the first week in a while where the plan felt like it was really falling in place.  Nice.

My training objectives for this week were: 

(1) Run a 20 miler.  RESULT? I did a pretty hard route, stayed aerobic and came in about 10 sec per mile faster than my 18 miler 2 weeks previously.  Was beat when it was done, but this is to be expected…..the good news is, my legs bounced back pretty quickly.

(2) Build my run strength: RESULT? 3 days after my 20 miler, I was able to do 9 miles of rolling hills (not steep, but definitely challenging) 30 seconds per mile faster than my goal race pace…..so I felt pretty good about this. Finished the week with 3.25 mile brick (following my bike, see below) on Saturday and a light 1 hour recovery walk today with the PACER Team at the monthly workout & social…..so +/- 35 miles of run this week and some increased pace without any aches or flare ups to speak of…..COOL!

(3) Get an 80 miler in on the bike.  RESULT? Was able to do this on Saturday, and although the Veyo Wall is still miserable (not looking fwd to this on race day), I got over it stronger than the last time and had enough legs to get off and run 15 seconds per mile faster than race pace (as above).

Got in a few other miscellaneous sessions (muscular endurance for the bike, pedal technique, a good swim and a few short total body strength sessions).

In addition to the 3 key pillars, I also wanted to take another step toward optimal race nutrition.  This is such an important component to a successful race and with the potential heat, length of the event and the dry environment….I have to get this right.  So with the long session on Saturday, it made the most sense to make Saturday “fuel day”.

* In thinking about proper workout fuel I think it’s important for me to draw a line between this and normal everyday “healthy eating”….opposite ends of the spectrum….eating this way more than just during intense training would likely result in any number of chronic diseases…..however this extreme situation demands some extreme (although perhaps all-too-common) fueling techniques*

This aid-station sponsored by the “Royale with Cheese”

Endurance Session Nutrition 101 – without going deep into the details, here are some important themes for the endurance athlete:   
  • Calorie replacement is important, but it’s unlikely to be balanced.  Most folks can tolerate 250-400 calories per hour and will burn a bunch more than that (+/-650 for me), so get as close as you can without leaving yourself overly full.
  • This is the rare case when “high-glycemic” may be a good thing.  By definition foods that turn to sugar (in this case muscle fuel) fastest without a bunch of work by the gut are a good thing during extreme exercise.  Just about every other time, this would not be as good a choice.
  • This is also the rare case when Sodium is not the enemy.  Whereas normally we tell folks to cut back sodium to avoid things like hypertension and stroke, the sweat losses are so extreme that the sodium needs to be replaced efficiently.
So how’d I do?

I took in 2 powerbars, 2 bananas, 1 powerbar gel (double latte), 2 Nathan Electolyte Tabs, 1 gatorade and 1 “GU Brew” w/double sodium in roughly 5 hours of exercise which amounts to:  1100 calories (233 g of carbs, 22g protein, 7g of fat), 3046mg of Sodium (25% greater than the daily RDA), 1800mg Potassium (+/- 50% daily allowance) and 100 oz of fluid.

Truth is, I felt really good.  Better than I have in a while.  They say one of the signs of sodium loss is feeling “fuzzy”.  And although I don’t ever really remember feeling this way, I did feel really clear and focused yesterday.  Placebo?  Maybe.  But I’m going to keep experimenting.

So, in a sense – a calorie laden, high salt, high sugar diet is the way to go during an intense bout of endurance exercise……maybe I’ll put a “Triple Whopper w/Cheese” in my special needs bag: 1230 calories, 1550mg of Sodium and almost no fiber.  Unfortunately, the fat to carb balance is way off…..oh well.

And now, some motivation

This week I saw the video below for the first time……that “toughest course in the world” stuff wasn’t exactly what I was looking to hear….but it definitely got me a little pumped up….worth your 30 seconds.

Until next week……

Think Nice Thoughts (Ted Reilly).

Mike E.