At 5 o’clock this morning, in the pre-dawn darkness (& with temperatures of 33C before sunup), I joined an enthusiastic group of runners and volunteers for a half marathon, as well as a 14k and a 7k run through Sanjay Van, a huge forest in south Delhi. This was a friendly, un-chipped run organised by the Delhi Runners Group, and let me place on record that it was a fantastically well-organised event, with marshals galore and great signage, and food and water, and gorgeous certificates made by the children of the DRG runners – all in all a fantastic feat, and if this running group will have me, I’m in!
Anyway, back to The Wall.
I completed my HM, the last runner back I suspect, with the slowest time ever in my admittedly very short running career.
It would be oh-so-easy to come up with excuses, and they would be along the lines of:
a) it was very humid. Yes, but it was as humid for everyone else…
b) it was a very up-and-down-y track, whereas I usually train on the flat streets of Lutyens Delhi. Yes, but it was as just as undulating a course for everyone else…
c) I ran with a backpack and water. That’s about the only mitigating circumstance I can offer for my slow time.
A bit into the 3rd of the 3 x 7km loops, so at roughly 15/16km I reckon (I made a decision not to keep checking my GPS, and put it in a pocket) I started feeling seriously tired. At one point I felt faintly nauseous, and I remembered that I had felt exactly the same way in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon last November, and at roughly the same distance.
Back then in ADHM, hoping to give myself an energy boost, I took a slice of salty orange at one of the stations and nearly gagged, losing time in the process. So when I was offered salt this morning by the cheerful young ladies at the water station, I declined and ran on.
But got wearier and wearier, and ended up running very slowly & walking way too much towards the end.
It’s easy to take about “hitting the wall” but I need to know more about it – and, more importantly, how to avoid it.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the subject, first of all.
And I quote:
“In endurance sports such as cycling and running, hitting the wall or the bonk describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy. Milder instances can be remedied by brief rest and the ingestion of food or drinks containing carbohydrates. The condition can usually be avoided by ensuring that glycogen levels are high when the exercise begins, maintaining glucose levels during exercise by eating or drinking carbohydrate-rich substances, or by reducing exercise intensity.”
As I tottered along, I chastised myself for what I had NOT done to prepare properly for these 20.097 km in the heat.
I had NOT put any salt and sugar into my water.
I had NOT packed any raisins or fruit gums in my backpack – stupid oversight, and lack of adequate preparation, that’s what.
Entirely my own fault. So one lesson learned the hard way – prepare properly. Forgetfulness can cost one dearly.
And, going forward from here, it is clearly paramount to learn to eat on the go. There was food on offer at the stations we ran past, but since I have hitherto never eaten anything other than raisins as I run, it seemed wise not to experiment during a HM.
Now, feedback time, please.
What I would welcome from those of you who have experience of hitting that dratted wall is this :
– what are the best foods to eat on the go? In long runs, should one eat regardless of how one feels, and try and avoid ever hitting the wall? If so, how much and how often?
– plain water vs electrolyte-ified drink – what should the ratio be? Can/should one drink an elctrolyte-like drink all the time, and skip plain water?
– should I ditch the backpack? In my first ever HM, last October, a water station had run out completely, and I have since run in races where there was way less water than there should have been. So carrying one’s own seems to make sense. But after seeing today’s fabulous organisation, perhaps there will be no need for a backpack at any future DRG runs.
– any other words of wisdom, please.
And last but not least, anyone from the run this morning – was that rock salt on the tray at the second water station? What does one do – dip finger in and lick?
And here is my truly lovely certificate.
What a class act these kiddos are.