Short run, 4 miles, 43:08; splits 10:25, 11:17, 11:07, 10:16
My first run when it had already been raining hard for a long time (as opposed to the rain starting once I was already running). Heading out the door did give me a little psychological shudder, but it really wasn’t bad at all (it’s not cold, after all!) I tried a new run: one mile out & back to the right, and one mile out and back to the left. A mix of hard road & dirt road, uphill and downhill, views of the mountains and view of the pond, plus our neighbor up the hill’s lovely garden. I’ll stick to this one for a while. I didn’t feel 100% recovered from Sunday so I didn’t push too hard.
I need to take the mental training more seriously. Chapter 6 in Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer is the first one with an assignment I don’t already do sort of instinctively. Up until now, there’s been stuff like tacking “…but it doesn’t matter” to the end of negative thoughts that come up during the run (which hasn’t been an issue so far!); running mental videos of good runs and of finishing the marathon (which is part of the day-dreaming I do when thinking about any goal, so I’ve been replaying my marathon video for at least a year!); and thinking of yourself as a marathoner, ie with complete confidence that you will finish (which so far, I’ve had). But Chapter 6 asks you to create a self-talk paragraph to read to yourself several times a day and memorize. Here’s mine:
I am a marathoner. I love to run, no matter what the weather is like. I get stronger every day, physically and mentally. I can tackle any hill, any mood, any obstacle. I can run forever. I am a marathoner!
It occured to me that it’s just as easy for me to be complacent about little good mental habits (like mental movies, or generally using positive self talk) as it was to be complacent about little good physical habits (like parking at the far end of parking lots, taking the stairs when possible, walking up & down escalators). Those little good habits are fine, but there’s still a huge gulf between walking a few blocks and running five miles. So there might also be such a gulf between “yeah, postive self-talk, check,” and actually memorizing & repeating a paragraph like NRMT recommends. I’ll try & see!
Medium run, 5 miles, 54:29; splits 10:59, 9:56, 10:59, 11:53, 10:42.
I ran in the evening because tomorrow morning I’m attending a GPS class that starts at 9, and we have people coming over tomorrow night. Thunderstorms earlier, but they had cleared, so it was good running weather (not too hot or muggy).
I’ve been doing more thinking & research about gels vs sports drinks. It’s frustrating that NRMT doesn’t mention gels, and Marathon Training for Dummies promotes them & doesn’t mention sports drinks for during a race (as opposed to before & after). Author Tere Stouffer Drenth just says she doesn’t drink sports drinks during a run, but doesn’t explain why. What started me questioning was how some gels have varying amounts of electrolytes & some don’t; so if you want to make sure you’re getting them (which most advice says you should, although there are contrarians), you’d need sports drink in addition to gels–but you’re only supposed to drink water with gels! Plus I found a number of sites explaning that if you don’t drink the right quantity of water with your gels, they either suck the water back out of your intestines/tissues, or are too diluted. And I’d need at least 6 gel packets for the marathon, which seems like a lot; Gatorade is available at every aid station. Gels are expensive, too, and not as easily available as Gatorade.
The tipping point for me was this article which describes a study comparing sports drink to placebo to a solid/liquid carb mix (but NOT a gel, unfortunately). A quote I just stumbled across: “The plural of anecdote is not data.” Gels have a lot of anecdotes behind them, but not a lot of research. So I figured, let me try Gatorade (since you’re supposed to make sure you can tolerate the brand served at the race). When I did my 8-miler a few years ago, I got some Powerade and hated it. I don’t like Gatorade, but I saw the tag-line at their website about how it tastes different when you’re hot & sweaty. So I got some at the supermarket and tried it in the Hydrobak today.
It was OK! I had gotten home from work ravenous (which is happening much more now that my mileage is climbing) and gobbled a bowl of Cheerios, a banana, and a little leftover Jonathan coffee (ie STRONG) in a cup of milk, then headed out. So my stomach was a little uncomfortably full & sloshy (I’ll try not to do that again!), yet the Gatorade didn’t bother me. I still don’t love the flavor, but the plasticy water in the Hydrobak is no taste sensation either; drinking enough is a chore either way. So I’ll try Gatorade on my 11-miler this weekend. It would be great not to have to carry too much on marathon day (I’d bring a couple of gels anyway, one to share & one with caffeine for an extra kick–maybe the tangerine PowerGel, which is double caffeine).
Anyway, on to today’s run. Where the road turns around Stanley Lake, there’s a Rottweiler who’s always been chained, but he was off today. I heard scuffling and turned around to see him charging at me, barking. Rotties are such strong, dominant dogs that they scare me when they are aggressive, and this one’s behavior was unsettling: hackles raised, then tail wagging, approaching threateningly, then backing off in fear. My technique with dogs I’m not sure about is to stop, face the dog, pat my thighs, and ask in a high, happy voice (a la Barbara Woodhouse, who claimed that was one of the secrets to charming a dog), “Do you want to come say hi?” Even if we don’t actually make friends, this seems to reassure the dog that I’m probably OK. After some back & forth, he eventally turned & ran back around the bushes to the house (his owner may have been calling him). My heart rate had barely settled back down when I heard a lot of birds squabbling and saw a young redtail hawk quite near in the grass. It flew away holding something it had just caught in one claw, pursued by a bunch of starlings.
On the other side of the lake, I passed an eft in the road and thought a little too late that I should have picked it up and moved it before it got run over. Then, not much farther, there was a garter snake in the middle of the road and I thought I should definitely move it. As I recall, it was moving a little bit, but when I grabbed it behind the head, it didn’t thrash around like I expected, and it hung limp. I dropped it on the shoulder and it flopped there, stomach up. “Poor thing, it already got run over,” I thought, and picked it back up. I didn’t see any signs of obvious trauma, and it didn’t feel *quite* slack, but the jaw seemed to be lolling slightly open. I dropped it back on the shoulder and it landed on its back again–but it was definitely moving. Was it just its spine re-adjusting, like a spring? I watched it for at ittle bit and it continued to move slowly. I couldn’t figure out if it was really dead, but I’ve never heard of garter snakes playing dead (only hognose snakes–I’ve always wanted to see one!) And if it *were* playing dead, wouldn’t it eventually cut and run? After standing there for a while, I walked back and moved the eft, and then when I ran back I didn’t spot the snake. I think it must have been really dead. A quick Google on garter snakes playing dead doesn’t turn anything up, but reminds me that the one giveaway with hognose snakes is that if you flip them over onto their stomachs when they’re playing dead, they will turn themselves upside down again (“no! this is what dead looks like!”) I should have tried that with this one!
Finally, I passed a couple of deer young enough to still have spots. Seeing deer is no big deal, but I’m always excited to see a fawn, and the first one I saw was just like a postcard scene: posed on the far grassy bank of a pond (a pond which was built wrong and is normally dry, but everything’s flooded!), just looking up from nibbling the grass.