And then it went wrong…………

Increasing mileage has been on the training plan for the last couple of months. Although not ‘properly’ marathon training yet (that starts towards the end of the year) I have been training for a half so it’s been essential to be more structured and do more than just a pootle around 6 miles at a weekend with shorter runs in the week.

There is no doubt in my mind that having a well matched running partner is utterly invaluable. I am fortunate enough to have at least one such friend plus the opportunity, through the running club, of running in larger groups where it’s highly likely someone will be around my level.

Meet my running bestie….(you’ve met her before!)

We trained brilliantly for the Southampton HM earlier this year (only for my to be sidelined due to illness) and are popping our marathon cherries in Brighton next year. Over the last few weeks we have been co-ordinating our long runs as much as possible.. It’s not always possible, Jenna works shifts and we both have children (& their packed social schedules) to work around.

Lately it’s been mostly going well. Together we have got to grips with our Camelbaks and their sloshiness, we have tried new routes, scoped potential routes for when the mileage gets really serious in the new year, tried new things (Hot Cross Buns as running fuel and facing my fear of wild wee’s to name but two) and talked about topics you would ONLY EVER discuss with a fellow runner or your GP!!!

So far so good….

Until last weekend – my longest run in a long time and coming two days after getting back from holiday which had included a (planned) cutback of mileage. Saturday morning meant 12 miles and a parkrun sandwich.

Setting off at 8am, the weather was perfect. Cool but not cold and looking like a beautiful day. The previous week Jenna had done her long run with a couple of ultra running friends who knock out 30 plus mile runs for fun (!) and who had read her the riot act about our abysmal track record of pacing our long runs. It’s not like we don’t try.. we’ve just tended to run on how it feels which is fine, except that it means we (or more accurately I) only just make the planned distance and certainly don’t have any reserves left by the end. By all accounts, this is NOT the ideal approach to marathon training…. we need to pace ourselves. And so, that was Jenna’s responsibility for the run… to keep us at a sensible pace and reach the end feeling fresh enough to carry on…

And to be fair, she did an awesome job. It all went wrong for the plain and simple reason, I got my hydration very, VERY wrong. As we set off the morning was cool – a bit chilly even – which is, apart from rain, the best type of weather for me to run in. We were very careful about our pace, not least because the first mile and a bit was up a very long, very definite hill. At the top we breathed a sigh of relief and started to settle in to the run. As usual we chatted about a random selection of topics to pass the miles.

Arriving at parkrun we both agreed that the first third had gone well – we felt good and, well done us (!) had paced it according to our plan. Parkrun… well, that was good too and coming from me who, whilst loving the parkrun concept, actively avoids the event as a rule, is quite a statement. We declined post parkrun rocky road, and it looked A.MAZ.ING. Got our tokens and barcodes scanned and headed off for the final 3rd.

By this point the temperature had gone up considerably and it was a beautifully sunny morning. And this, I believe, was my undoing. Through fear of drinking too much too soon and needing repeated loo stops, I simply had not taken on enough water. I had also eaten too much hot cross bun – unfortunately a whole ‘mini’ bun turns out to be bigger than half a standard and the extra had made exacerbated by thirst and was sitting heavy in my stomach. I felt sick!

So I drank a bit. Then a bit more. And a bit more. I walked a bit, ran a bit, walked a bit, prayed I could just throw up and feel better, drank a little more and struggled on. Finally at 9.5/10 miles, I had to accept small sips of water weren’t cutting it. I stopped and had a bloody good drink.

Too late – I now had too much water sloshing around with the excess hot cross bun and felt twice as sick. I walked some more…. finally hit a flat / slight downhill and managed to settle into an uncomfortable but reasonably OK pace. The route then turned and started to drop down that horrid long hill we had run up at the start. What a relief! A decent pace was achieved, Jenna’s watch was going nuts beeping to tell us we were now going far too fast and the end was in sight.

Reaching the 12 mile mark we were still about 1/4 of a mile from our start point but I was DONE!

In summary, we paced well. Jenna ran strong. I now know what it feels like to really dehydrate and it’s not an experience I want to repeat. Such a shame because 2/3 of the run really did feel good.

And my overriding lesson from this run… I will remember to drink before I’m thirsty. Little and often. And I won’t eat a whole mini hot cross bun either!

Bournemouth Half Marathon is fast looming on this weekend’s horizon so let’s see how it goes! Of course I’m absolutely sure a night out with the team from work on Friday night is the perfect race prep! 🙂

What is your top tip for avoiding the wheels falling off an otherwise good long run?

What is your preferred refueling tactic whilst on the run? Sweet or savoury? Gels or real food?



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