Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fuelling Up

No, this isn't about the astronomical cost of gasoline, which in my town costs $3.25 a gallon for regular while a couple of towns away it's only around $3. Since my sleepy little bedroom community is sort of out of the way, there is only one word for the large price differential - gouging.

On to the real topic at hand. I've never really thought of my diet during my 27+ years of running. It wasn't a consideration while running competitively in high school, college and post-college. I wasn't too picky and pretty much ate whatever was available. I guess from a health standpoint, it's a good thing that I didn't frequent fast food places much and was never a big fan of sodas.

Now that I'm older and supposedly wiser too, I'm starting to think more about what I eat. I guess some of this can be attributed to my long-suffering wife finally wearing me down after all these years. However, I think the blame and/or credit lies with my 10 year-old son.

A little over three months ago, he decided to become a vegetarian. We were having a delicious meal at a Chinese restaurant, and while he was gorging himself on the tasty Peking duck, he suddenly came to the realization that killing animals for food was wrong. And that's when he decided to stop eating meat.

It has been a challenge for the entire family (mostly my wife) to cater to his new dietary needs, and it's like we've gone back to the days when the kids were much younger and there was one meal for the grown-ups and one for the kids. I thought those days were long gone. Sigh. I believe we have reached a happy middle ground now, and while we are eating more rabbit food and tofu, the carnivores in the family still get to enjoy some meat at time (we're beef free due to my wife's mad cow paranoia).

On a side note, one thing I have noticed, since I do most of the food shopping, is the plethora of meatless food products out there. It's seems to be a growing cottage industry and the product's ain't cheap.

I have to give the boy credit that he's still sticking to his guns after three months. He came up with the decision on his own, and hasn't been bothered by his friends and classmates kidding him about it. However, I almost wrung his neck when he was wondering out loud if he should become a vegan (we do live 15 minutes away from Berkeley :-)). It was one of those days when my tolerance level for my children was very low, and so I flew off the handle and told him he couldn't become a vegan until he was 18 and preparing his own meals. The thought of trying to feed him without dairy and egg products was just too much.

So when it comes to running, am I eating healthily and fuelling my body properly? I work out of my home as a PR and marketing consultant and I'm an inveterate snacker so I always seem to be eating. Mostly nuts and my new favorite, dried apricots. I also love cakes and cookies so it's gets dangerous when I'm on one of my baking binges. Thankfully I run because otherwise I'd be 20+ pounds heavier.

I run in the early morning, and I don't eat anything before hitting the roads. I only drink a glass of water. For a long time, I use to have a pack of GU too, but stopped that when I realized I didn't need it. So far I've made it upto 16 milers using this approach, and taking some sips of water at water fountains along the way.

However, now that I'm considering training for a December marathon, I need to rethink my fuelling strategy, especially for the long runs, because 20+ milers and 2:30+ hour runs are a totally different ballgame.

Should I resume having a GU before the long runs? I don't want to carry any liquids with me so I'll probably have to leave a bottle somewhere and hydrate on the run. Do I carry GU with me or try something else? Through Jason and Leah I've learned about Jelly Belly Sport Beans. They sound like an easier and less messy solution for energy on the run. Now I just have to find a pack to try them out. The factory and headquarters is less than 40 minutes away so I could always just drive there.

Any other fuelling ideas?

As for today's run, I decided to opt out of a speed workout at the track, and ran fartlek instead. Warmed up for about 1..7 miles and then did my usual 5.1 mile tempo route with 15 x 1:00 on and off. Overall, the time for the loop was the same as last week's MP effort at 33:29, but this morning felt a lot harder.

It was probably a combination of still not being fully recovered from Sunday's long run combined with running the 1:00 off sections a bit too hard. Note to self: run easy the next two days and get a proper recovery.

If all goes well then I might hit the track on Friday to see what kind of speed is left in my old legs....