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December Training Update

January 7, 2012

Sorry I’m a little late with this one. Christmas distracted me from blogging, but not from running.

My official training plan started in the week before Christmas, which saw me running 10 miles on Christmas Eve. It may sound mad but it did mean I could eat what I liked on the 25th.

Training continues to go well. I’m up to 13 miles on the long runs now, so I’ve hit the halfway point. Mile 13 was extremely difficult! Progress from here is going to be slow and probably painful, but at the moment I still feel great once I’ve got my breath back so I’m feeling pretty confident that I’ll get round in four and a half hours as planned.

What I’ve really been obsessing about recently is nutrition. Specifically the sports drinks and snacks that you are encouraged to buy. If you read most advice the only thing you can drink while running is a mass-marketed sports drink of some description. Unless you are a complete masochist you should only eat specially created carbohydrate balanced energy gels or similarly scientific jelly beans.   Anything else is just foolish. Or so you get told. I’m a bit tight fisted and don’t like the idea of shelling out around £5 a week on food and drink which tastes, lets face it, disgusting. So I’ve been doing a bit of research.

First off, the snacks. It is important to eat something while you’re running a marathon. In day to day life most people don’t go much more than 4 hours without eating something. If you’re going to spend those 4 hours running you have to take on some energy while you’re at it. Obviously there are issues with this – quite apart from the difficulty of chewing and breathing at the same time your stomach really doesn’t appreciate having food in it while you’re bouncing up and down. You need something that will give you energy fast, is easy to swallow and won’t upset your digestive system. This is where the gels and so on come in. According to the marketing, scientists have put lots of research into creating food that does all of that and more. If you read the ingredients list, however, there is almost no difference between sports jelly beans (£1-£3 per tiny bag) and value midget gems (42p per large bag). In my experience I get exactly the same benefit from the midget gems as I do from the jelly beans, and they taste better.

Next, sports drinks, or isotonic drinks as they are technically known. Energy snacks are basically sugar, so that wasn’t too tricky, but isotonic drinks are more complicated. Or so I thought. This article completely cured me of that illusion. I use the 50/50 juice and water version. The best thing about this is that you can heat up the juice before you go. A hot apple drink with a dash of ginger is fantastic for warding off cold winds on a winter’s morning.

So there you have it. You can spend lots of money on ‘special’ sports drinks and snacks, or you can get the same effect from a packet of midget gems and a carton of apple juice.



P.S. I’m almost 20% of the way to my fundraising target. Help me out

If I hit the target of £2000 I will run the marathon dressed as cookie monster.


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