What I Learned: Supplements

If you missed my last post about recommended gear, make sure to check it out here

At a certain point, many amateurs enter the “Supplement Phase” of their running trajectory. Suddenly, there are all sorts of strange gels, pills, bars, drinks, and whatnot that you’re convinced are the difference between success and failure. This is completely untrue. That said, they can (and do!) help – and some are better than others. 

Here are some of my favorites:

Run Gum: Yeah, you knew this was coming. I chew Run Gum for the calorie-free caffeine on most of my runs – certainly the tough ones. Mint flavor tastes like Winterfresh Gum, Fruit flavor tastes like Juicy Fruit, and Cinnamon tastes like Big Red. I’ve actually yet to try the new, extra strength flavor, Spearmint, but it’s 2x the caffeine and supposed to be great. Use code jaket10 for a discount 😉

rungum

Nuun: My wife turned me on to Nuun. It’s a little tablet that dissolves in water and packs some useful nutrients. There are also caffeinated flavors – great for a pre-morning hydrated alternative to coffee. I am a big fan of tangerine and blackberry. 

Picky Bars: Made by runners for runners. This has the 4:1 carbs: protein ratio perfect for a post-run snack (eat within an hour!). I recommend Blueberry Boomdizzle. 

Gu: For endurance workouts longer than an hour, a little Gu gues a long way. Chocolate Coconut is my favorite flavor (tastes like a Samoa cookie!) and Chocolate Sea Salt is great too. Lots of flavors to try. 

Muscle Milk Pro 50 Knockout: This chocolate-flavored protein goes great in smoothies and packs a ton of protein/calorie. 

Isopure Coconut: This drink packs 40g of protein in just 160 calories. It tastes just like (a slightly tart) coconut water. 

What I Learned: Gear

This yearlong exercise (pun) has taught me a lot about different gear and other goodies. I’ll highlight some of my recommendations below:

Bluetooth Headphones: Are an absolute must. Do not waste time and energy carrying your phone in hand while you run. That’s so 2013. Instead, try these great bluetooth headphones. For less than $30, their value is unbeatable. Simply strap your phone to your arm (or grab a smartwatch that stores music!) and enjoy. 

Shades: Another solid buy for under $30. They’re sturdy, handle sweat well, and multi-functional. You waste a lot of energy squinting through tough sunlight that can tense up your face/neck/shoulders. If you don’t want to wear a hat, wear shades. 

Wristband: Need a place to store your keys while running? This sweatband has a little zipper pocket. $3. 

Socks: I like these double-socks. They’re lightweight great at preventing blisters. 

Anti-Chaffing Balm: You won’t notice it’s there, but you’ll notice it post-run if it’s not! 

Soreness Balm: This arnica-based gel feels great on your muscles after a tough workout. I also apply it pre-race to muscles that I know will hurt, so that when the fatigue sets in I am treated to a cooling sensation that makes the pain much more tolerable!

Plantar Socks: Got bad plantar faciitis? These sleeping socks keep your foot flexed overnight and are a game-changer. 

Foam Roller: If you’re not foam rolling, you’re doing it wrong. For less than $20, this is all you need. 

Stay tuned for the next edition – all about supplements!

Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 2.30.05 PM.png

Big Announcement: The Sub-5 Challenge

With just two weeks of formal time left to reach our goal of $30K, we have less than $5K in pledges to go! 

And now that my 30 races are complete and I plan to continue training at a vigorous pace, I need (at least) one new goal. 

Enter: The Sub-5 Challenge:

I’m going to attempt to run a sub-5 minute mile at the famous 5th Avenue Mile, on Sunday, September 9th, in New York City! 

While I could hit the track and cruise a sub-5 mile as a fit high school runner, I’ve never actually recorded a sub-5 mile in an actual race. You might remember that I did run a one-mile race this winter indoors at the Armory, where I surprised myself with a strong final lap to run a 5:28.

Running sub-5 at my age requires a different level of fitness with the real need to improve my speed and anaerobic ability, and doing more speed work as a part of this effort should help improve my 5K times as well. 

So I’m going for sub-5… in more ways than one!

Want to run the 5th Ave Mile with me? Sign up
Want to help my other sub-5 goal? Pledge a donation!

80%

What’s Next?

The 30 races are complete!

So…. what now? 

Should I continue to build on the immense fitness improvements, healthier lifestyle I’ve created, reignited passion for running, and rediscovered drive for self-improvement by continuing to train and race as a competitive amateur runner?

Or should I just stop?

Hmm. When you put it that way….

While my body desperately needs a reset and the proper cyclical training approach, I am definitely going to keep pounding the pavement (and rubberized-surfaces). 

I’ve got a few ideas for some racing goals – some more attainable than others – and I’m going to get started with periodized training right away. In fact, I plan to announce an ambitious goal in the next week, so stay tuned…

The real question I have for you is… should I keep this running blog going? Would you read it? If so, do I change the name/website? Take the poll

IMG_2046

30.

Race #30: complete.

Woah. 

With morning temperatures already in the 80s and humidity hovering around 2,000,0000,000%, the PR Races’ Firecracker 5K in Virginia still drew a huge crowd.

It also drew the fabled 30@30 CTC Running Squad (CTC = Chip-Time Champions). Murat, Dathania Kat, Kelli, and Brendan all Voltroned’ up with me to try and score some team points in the final race of the campaign. 

The day went better for some than others. 

After arriving early and getting in a solid warmup (dynamic stretching, two-mile jog, more dynamic stretching, a few drills), I was drenched in sweat and probably more dehydrated than I let myself believe. Jess and Russ kept me company while I got my gear set up. Singlet, Run Gum, arnica cream, headphones, shades.

The start of the race seemed to arrive faster than anticipated.

I felt reasonably ready. Despite a few weeks of training that consisted primarily of intervals and heavy weights (focused on weight loss), I felt like I would be ready to run decently. The previous race on this course was one of the best of the campaign. 

My plan was to run the first mile in about 6:10. The second mile is a general net-downhill, so I hoped to run that in about 5:45, and then would just try and push through the final mile (80% of which was uphill). 

I fired up my music – mostly so that I wouldn’t hear my own heavy breathing, which always psychs me out.

Gun sounds. Let’s go.

During the first mile, I felt okay. About a mile in, my watch beeped 6:15. Not terrible, but not great. My quads felt heavy and my calves were sore from all of the track work and lifting. 

I saw Jess and Russ on the side of the road which gave me a slight boost.

Then, things got progressively worse. Like, much worse.

I wouldn’t say I “blew up”, though that is the running term for what happened.

Instead, I felt like I very quickly withered away. 

My legs had no power and my turnover felt forced and difficult. My foot started to hurt (oh, hello again, plantar faciitis). At about the halfway point, things got even worse. 

I felt heavy and bloated, like I was carrying around a fanny pack full of marbles. Every stride was a struggle and I felt like I was losing, not gaining ground.

Two miles in I was exhausted. I had slowed down tremendously during the very mile I was planning to pick things up: 6:45 for mile two. 

Runners were starting to pass me one by one. I had thought that I had began far enough back from the starting line that it would be unlikely that anyone would pass me. (I suppose if I had been running at PB pace, that would have been true.) Instead, I was continuously getting passed and had nothing in the tank. 

I felt like I was going to throw-up. I immediately switched my focus from running a decent time to simply finishing the race and not stopping/walking. 

I slugged through the last mile. More runners continued to pass me and not even my playlist could save me. I tried some running techniques. Counting, thumb-tapping, positive talk. Nothing. My mind would immediately drift back to the pain. 

At about the third mile marker, I saw Jess and Russ once again. They could tell I was not looking good. 

I did manage to pick up the pace slightly over the last 0.1, but my final mile was a disastrous 7:15. I ran through the finish line and nearly collapsed.

My time was a pedestrian 21:04 – just a few weeks after running 18:42 over the same distance. I barely cracked the top 100 – finishing 99th overall (out of 1,578). I was so relieved to be finished.

IMG_2046.PNG

I staggered around and grabbed waters for the rest of the squad. Importantly, Murat, Kat, Kelli, and Brendan had each run very strong races in the heat. 

After dowsing myself in water and debating sticking my head into the garbage-bin full of Gatorades, I found Jess and Russ and we joined the group for a photo.

The final 30@30 race photo:

IMG_0688.jpeg

The race didn’t go as planned, but it went.

—————-

30 races complete.

I’ll need some time to reflect on the accomplishment. In the coming weeks, I hope to ink a few summarizing blog posts, touching on subjects ranging from what I learned along the way (about running and otherwise), ranking my performances and various events, recommending the best gear/books/etc. that I found throughout the year, what my future plans are (should I keep this running blog alive?), sharing some photos, and much more. 

So stay tuned. 

Meanwhile, we are closing in on $30K. We have about $3.5K to go. If you haven’t made a pledge yet, please consider doing so here. It just takes 23 seconds. 

Thanks, as always, for the support. In so many more ways than one. 

Final Race: Tomorrow!

The 30th and final race of the campaign is nigh! 

While it is the last race, this is the first time I have used the word ‘nigh’.

The 30@30 Chip-Time Champions will compete for a chance at team glory in PR Races’ Firecracker 5K, in Reston, VA. The weather promises to be too warm, my legs promise to be too sore, and the competition likely too good…. but alas, the show must go on. 

Despite being far from peak form at the moment and off-cycle in training, I plan to run this one hard. Last time, I enjoyed this course for what was a solid season’s best. If I can even match that time tomorrow, I’ll be happy. 

Join me if you’re in the DC area!

600m Intervals, Weights, Depletion Run

Saturday: 1.5 mile warmup, 6x600m @ 5K pace, 1.5 mile cooldown

5:45am wakeup for this one to beat the heat – and it was well-worth it! It was already high 70s by the time I hit the track at 6:45am, though there was a decent cool breeze that made the weather tolerable. 

Hoping to average 2:15/600m (6min/mile pace), I did fairly well. I averaged about 2:17 for the first few, and then dropped to about 2:14 for the last couple – including a quick 2:09 for the final interval. The workout called for 200m jogs between each 600, which took me about 100 seconds each. 

Saturday: Weights

I pushed it a little harder than past days, upping the weight total and trying to get a bit closer to “failure” on every set. A solid session requiring significant Run Gum intake for caffeine after the tough interval workout. 

Sunday: 9 mile Depletion Run

This calorie-free run at 6:30am was much better than last week’s, thanks to Rabbit Lindsay (aka Lindsay O’Brien) joining me for much of the jog. It’s amazing how much less painful a long run can be when your mind is free to focus on a good conversation. We averaged about 9:20 pace for the nine mile jaunt, as we did our best to find shady paths. Temperatures were already in the mid-80s by the end of the run.

Next up: Final race of the campaign on July 4th! 

400m Intervals, Weights, Depletion Run

Friday: 6x400m @ 5K pace.

The run felt good! With 2:30 active jog rest between intervals, my splits were strong, averaging about 1:22/400m. Afterwards, I joined some of my Friday track workout friends and paced them through their 200s in 40-45 seconds:

Saturday: Weights

Felt good as well… though I probably didn’t push hard enough. Generally, I should be “lifting to failure” – getting to a point in each set where I can’t complete any more reps. Evidence suggests that this really builds muscle – regardless of how heavy the weights. Will try to push harder next time. 

Sunday: 8 mile Depletion Run

A Depletion Run is a long run done first thing in the morning on a completely empty stomach. By depriving the body of any calories to burn, you burn through your carbohydrate stores and train your body to start burning more fat. As Coach Matt pointed out, during trim-down portions of an early training cycle, athletes often incorporate one long depletion run per week. 

This was my first ever long depletion run. My muscles felt like they were trying to wrench energy out of my bones. Still, it wasn’t too miserable, and was an overall good experience. The best part? You get to eat whatever you want right afterwards. So I polished off my run with a jelly donut, a bag of fruit snacks, and one of (former race rabbit) Lindsay O’Brien’s famous dessert brownies. 

And then I polished that off with a long sugar-and-fatigue-induced nap with Russ:

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 9.27.06 AM.png