Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Channel your inner camel

C just sent me an interesting article: Can Dehydration Aid Performance

And while I agree that sports drink promoters probably over promote the fears of dehydration to sell drinks, I think staying hydrated is an extremely important part of running. Even if elite runners can deal with a greater degree of dehydration than the average runner, I think its a razors edge - and its always better to loose a few seconds for that cup of water that having a DNF because you passed out a mile before the finish line. 

The book I was reading, Running Like An Animal, spent some time on water how many animals use water to regulate temperature.
I'm extrapolating from his conversation about how the body uses carbohydrate and fat energy stores, but my guess is that the best runners would be ones who would use every bit of water that they had, starting being able to hold more, and loosing more as they ran. Just not a rate that had them run out of water before the end of the race. That would explain why elite runners have a greater loss of water.

Elite runners more likely, in addition to being better at using and storing water, are better at functioning with a decreased amount of water. "running through the pain". Before you body starts to shut down, the brain starts to go. I know I loose concentration rather than ability when I get dehydrated. An elite runner has spent so many miles and races at the breaking point, they are more likely able to push through that feeling.

Camels survive in the dessert not just because they have amazing abilities to hold huge stores of fats, retain a remarkable amount of water and are built to stay cool and shade vital organs... they survive mostly because their bodies can deal with temperatures that would kill us - not just slow us down, or lead to brain damage. They can drink salt water to re-hydrate, their bodies can function with much less water percentage than ours too. Elites are probably just a bit more on the camel side. 

Granted camels need a year to recover from extreme exertion - so maybe they're passed the camel side.

For me, based on my runs in the woods, I'm going to be uber-cautious about hydration and not mess up my races. And if I do find myself dehydrated, I'll keep the article in mind and try to channel my inner camel, minus the salt water drinking of course.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why running is good for you; and why you're dog is so happy

D- runs have been maintained at 9:20 pace for a few days in a row. Despite a sore knee, I'm optomistic about a good race in two weeks.

Its getting to be that time again where we ease out of peak mileage into that restful period before our next race (Boston's Run to Remember). This weekend, C and I finished our last pre-race double digit run at a relaxing pace - about a minute over expected race pace. I am feeling a bit tired, so I think the pre-race tapering will do wonders for me.

For now, I wanted to share a few articles I was talking to C about that I read last week.

First there was a great (and apporpriate to my knee) Time Health article revisiting my favorite topic : Is Running Bad For Your Knees?: Maybe not. I hear a lot of people telling me that running is bad for your knees/joints/heart. There really wasn't anything new in the article, but its nice to have a reminder that its actually good for me, provided I'm smart about it.

The other is a  great NPR story about why we love running, as a species. Even if you don't love running now, remember that feeling of sprinting around the playground as a kid? As you probably already know, we're hardwired to enjoy it. What I wasn't expecting was that animals that run (ie. dogs) have a similar chemical response, and animals that don't like to run don't.

At the very least, it was kind of funny to imagine a scientist trying to get a cat to run on a treadmill.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Motivation to RUN!

D's weekend Run - 5k of hills, obstacles and.. well zombies - 51:49

This weekend I participated in the most unusual race I've witnessed yet. Run For Your Lives Zombie runs take place across the country. They're a combination of a 5k (its a timed race) and an obstacle course. Each runner also gets three flag football style flags, which zombies try to rip off you the entire race. If you've ever felt like you needed a little extra motivation during a run to keep moving, believe me, a screaming zombie charge at you will get you moving. 

The race is huge, with waves of runners leaving every fifteen minutes from 8am to 6pm. It was surprisingly well organized... except that for packet pick up and bag drops, they had lines forming by alphabet. Rather than evenly dividing the letters by the anticipated number of runners, the evenly divided it by the number of letters. K-O had huge lines, while U-Z was mostly empty... I spent a lot of time in lines that day. 

The run started by going up a ridiculous hill. I tried to keep up with Corey, who is much faster than me, so by the time I got to the top I was already sweating. That was when the mud started - inches, even feet at time, of slippery thick mud that caked on my shoes and prevented me from having any traction at all.
Coincidentally, the first zombies were waiting at the top of the hill. So, in a dead sprint, I failed to make a turn, broke through the 'wrong way' tape and almost flew down the other side of the hill. Fortunately I held on to the tape and make it back on course. 

The rest of time was spent going through smokey rooms with hanging shocking wires, crawling through a couple (but not many) obstacles, and trying to dodge zombies. Most would stand there and lunge occasionally. Occasionally, just as you think you're safe, you'd hear screaming behind you and someone yelling 'runner!' as a zombie starts chasing a group down. I lost a flag to one of those when I slipped in the mud. 

A strategy I found pretty quickly was to stay with larger groups. It worked for the most part, since you could overwhelm a small group of zombies with a larger group. Except, it backfired when I took the lead and was pushed into a zombie by someone trying to pass me...

My favorite Zombies were two nuns that just stood there as people ran by, heads down hands folded together in prayer. Right after I passed them, I hear them screaming. I see a guy sprinting all out past me yelling 'that's out of my nightmares'... as he just kept sprinting. 

So, I didn't survive the Zombie Apocalypse. And even though my shoes were so muddy I could barely walk, let alone run, it turned out to be a pretty good work out. 
Not to mention, the GIANT, very fast water slide at the end made it all worthwhile. 
hill at the beginning
Andy, D, Michelle and Corey

Mariachi Zombies on their break

Huge water slide ending in a pit of muddy water

Last Obstacle; and electric fence