Monday, September 3, 2012

A pretty boring post about running

I just wrapped up week 10 of an 18-week program to get ready for the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October.  If you know anyone who's doing something similar, I guarantee you it's pretty much the only thing they'd like to talk about.  If they're a polite friend, they don't talk about it very often because it's just not something most people find interesting.  I think I'm a polite friend, so I'm using this entry to thought-vomit how this has been going.  Read it if you like.  I just want to get all this down.

I am by far putting more effort into this goal than anything else in my life right now.  By my calculations, I've spent 34.5 hours running a total of 222 miles since I started, and I've still got eight weeks and a marathon left.  I wasn't listening to music or podcasts for those 34.5 hours.  I wasn't running with anyone else and having conversations.  I was focusing on my pace, my breathing, my stride rate, my footstrikes, and not getting run over by cyclists.  I can't manage to direct that level of focus and dedication towards anything else, certainly not my "acting career," and it's really just so that I can say I did it (and of course the health benefits and sense of accomplishment, etc).  Point being, this is important to me.

When I started the program, the farthest I'd run was about 9.3 miles.  The long run at the end of the first week was 11 miles.  I remember starting out and thinking "how in the world am I going to manage 26.2 miles?"  Once I hit long runs around 14 and 15 miles, it started to make sense.  I started to feel like it's something I can actually do.

Then I ran 17 miles today.

Now that my long runs are taking around two or three hours, I'm trying to eat a breakfast that will help me be able to do that.  I'm also carrying a bottle of Gatorade, of which I drink about half an hour before starting out, and then I drink a mouthful every two miles on the run.  It either runs out or I just finish what's left with about three miles to go.  Last week, for my mock half-marathon, I had a bowl of hot cereal, then a bagel with a little peanut butter about 45 minutes later (and the Gatorade as usual).  With about 1.5 miles left I developed a stitch so bad I had to walk a bit, increasing my overall pace by about six seconds.  Not a big deal, but not something I want to worry about.  So today I just went with the bagel and Gatorade.  I think I need more than that in the future.  Or I need to eat a bigger more appropriate dinner the night before.  I don't know.

It became purely an effort of will with about five miles to go.  I've been working to make meditation a habit over the last several months (well, since I was 23 years old, really, but a bigger effort lately) and that's helped with running in that I can boil it down to just worrying about the steps I'm taking at that moment.  I don't worry about the thousands more steps I have in front of me when I get tired, or whether I'll need to walk (haven't yet, other than that stitch).  I just worry about making sure that those strides right then are as good as they can be.  So I had to do that for about five miles today.

There's a good possibility I need better-fitting shoes, given that I developed a blood blister the size of my cat's eye on the inside of the ball of my right foot, and I think I'm about to lose a toenail on that foot as well.  This far into the program I'm a little worried about changing my shoes up, but I probably need to get new shoes before the marathon anyway and they'll need to be broken in.  The money factor doesn't help either, given that I could also use some sort of better-designed socks and underwear.  And shirts.  Basically everything I'm wearing becomes my enemy at some point.  My underwear chafes rings around my legs, my socks and shoes are eating my feet, and my shirts are slowly grinding away my nipples.  Vaseline is helping with the latter.  I've tried various tape structures over my chest, only to see them cascade down my torso in a river of sweat after a few miles.

The program I'm following doesn't stress any sort of time on my longest runs.  The day before, you do a long-ish run at the pace you'd like to do your marathon, and you can also play with that during the week, but long runs are just supposed to be finished.  As such, my goal marathon pace is 8:45 (really, anything under four hours would be OK I guess) but my long run pace is around 10 minutes and I really have nothing in the tank when I'm done.  I'm able to do my pace runs at 8:45 pretty well, and I did four miles in 32 minutes this past week, but after today I'm not really seeing how I can pull off 8:45 over 26.2 miles.  We'll see how that goes.

Another new development today was my almost complete lack of appetite after the run.  I burned around 2150 calories and I had to force myself to eat lunch.  Chocolate milk is supposed to be a great recovery drink, so I had a small bottle after I'd had some time to cool down, drink some water and stop sweating quite so much.  I don't know that it sat very well once it landed.  I didn't have any trouble last week.  I could have also just been dehydrated.  Well, I know for a fact I was dehydrated, but maybe that killed my appetite.

Oh, speaking of dehydrated, around the time I began this program I also got new contacts.  It's been almost impossible to wear them, and I thought something was wrong with the fit or something.  They were just pieces of hard rubber in my eyes; I'd taken to only wearing them while running and hating even that.  It occurred to me, finally, that if I were dehydrated my contacts probably wouldn't feel so great.  I started drinking more water.  Like, more water than you would logically think any one person could lose.  It's helping.  They're still not great, but I think I'm on the right track.  It's just that I'm not sure I can fit any more water in here.

Speaking of, I should go pee.  And drink some more water.

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he's an actor and writer.


  1. Colin, you are my hero. I've never run 17 miles, so I'd imagine that my advise is not very useful. But, I'm going to give a few pieces anyhow. I have no trouble with socks as long as they're synthetic and not cotton - not even a little bit cotton. Also, I ran for years in the wrong shoes. When I found the right ones, it changed my life. CHANGED MY LIFE. For me, it was Mizunos. Finally, Body Glide. I don't use it on the same spots as you necessarily, but I often get chaffed on my upper chest, my back, and if I'm wearing a sleeveless shirt, on the inside of my upper arm. This stuff is basically deodorant I think, and it's cheap. It makes a world of difference. Mostly, I'm just super proud of you. To repeat, you are my hero. Thanks for writing about running. Some of us eat this stuff up.

  2. Thank you so much Jamie! I know, only those who do it can spend hours talking about paces or breathing rhythms. I'm going to have to check out Body Glide. I'd heard of it, and if it goes on like deodorant that's pretty awesome. Like I mentioned in the post, vaseline has been helping with my chest but I discovered last night that my underwear leg holes chafed the crap out of the back of my legs. I don't really feel like dipping myself in vaseline before a run, so that might be the way to go. I'm thinking I'll have to look into non-cotton socks and underwear, and get new shoes in a few weeks so they have time to break in before the marathon. My main goal is to avoid any surprises on the big day.

  3. I enjoyed reading it too. I just recently finished this program at APSU that they called the TN Triathlon. It wasn't really a triathlon. It was more like log all of your miles biking, running, and swimming over 9 weeks of the summer. I'm just thankful I was able to finish it. If I remember correctly, it was 245 miles biking, 68 miles running, and 3.8 miles swimming. None of it was too bad except for the biking. I don't think I want to ever do that sort of biking again. It was really rough on my hips. The marathon sounds fun. A lot of work, but fun. Good luck with the shoes!

  4. Thanks Mark! Whenever I've biked, usually when I come home and drag my old bike out of mom's garage, it feels like my thighs are going to explode when I dismount and start walking again. There are a ton of serious cyclists here whizzing by me in the Lance Armstrong-style gear. I don't know how they do it. I couldn't do the swimming either. I wish I could swim and had access to a pool, it seems like great exercise. And no blistering.

  5. Colin, when I was looking for the right shoes, it helped me to go to a store that specializes in running shoes. They normally have a digital pad that you walk on, and that's hooked up to some kind of software that determines your pronation. It also helps to notice wear patterns and foot strikes on the shoes you already wear. Then from there, the store can normally direct you to a brand that's suitable for your feet. Once you figure out what you want, try it on, then say you have to think about it. Leave the store and find the shoe cheaper on the internet.

    When I was training, I also found that what I ate the night before made a big difference. I could go a lot longer, and felt stronger, after eating a heartier dinner.

    Never could figure out how to shake bouts of runner's diarrhea though... :)

  6. Hey Leslie, I just put up a new post regarding two things you recommended here. I'm heading to the running store tomorrow or the day after, and I ate a HUGE dinner last night. It really helped, thanks!

    As for the runner's runs, I can't say I've had too much of a problem with that. Running definitely makes things more active down there for me, but it's not, uh, you know. I've read that if you do the energy gels and drink a sports drink together, it's too much sugar and you can get diarrhea. Were you doing that? I guess your body is working overtime on stuff and that can just be one of the things it overdoes.