Yesterday I did my last long run before tapering down for the race. I ran 20 miles on Hutchinson Island, almost entirely on pavement. I tried to replicate race conditions as closely as possible. I've learned that surprises are great on Christmas and birthdays, but not so much for races. It was a humid, warm morning and I didn't feel particularly peppy at any point during the run like last week, but I slogged through all the miles at an average 9 minute pace. I expected to be a corpse for the next 36 hours, but I am eerily well today with only minor soreness. I feel like I'm in a good place with training. I've done a number of things differently this go around, so I'm not sure what to attribute my small victories to or if it is a combination of several things.
- I'm eating much better. I've lost 15 pounds by forgetting the 3 meals a day paradigm and basically just snacking on protein and fat all day. I'll eat a moderate size dinner, usually with a salad. Very little sweets and bread. I save the pure carbs for when I'm running. I have more energy and don't have to haul around as much weight.
- I've focused my training to include high-quality long runs. I worked up distance slowly to my maximum of 20 miles. On average I run 3-4 times a week. My short runs are generally 2-5 miles, some intervals, cross-training.
- I figured out how to use energy gels. I used to reserve energy gels like they were a fine vintage concoction. This usually meant eating a gel after I was already "bonking" when it is too late to salvage a run. Now, I eat gels every 30-45 minutes before the bonk.
- Electrolytes. I'm taking an electrolyte supplement w/ trace minerals. Also, I only drink gatorade for the long runs now. Something I've done in the past is alternate water and gatorade. With the heat here, I think it would be pretty hard to get too much salt. Cramping has not been an issue for several months now.
- I've developed better form. I think this is the key. Having good form is usually not too hard for several miles, but after some fatigue it is hard to focus. I think all the previous points have enabled me to maintain good form for longer periods.
Things look great for race day at this point. I'm on track to run under 4 hours. I'll try not to do anything stupid in the next few weeks.