Day 120 – Cut short by carbs

30 04 2010

Yesterday’s 10-mile run fell a mile short due to an experiment. I’ve been trying to find the right energy/blood sugar boost to get me through longer runs. I’m picky about this…don’t want anything that’s going to slosh in my stomach, and eating gummies, Gu, etc. makes me want to hurl. I picked up Dex4 at Target. It’s flavored glucose for diabetics packaged in a small, 2 oz. plastic bottle meant to quickly raise low blood sugar with 15 grams of liquid carbs. Seemed perfect to fit into my running skirt pocket for chugging.

At mile 4, I downed my “Berry Burst Liquid Blast” and kept moving. The taste was tolerable! But a half mile later I felt a bit nauseous. Too fruity… At mile 6 I was running by my house, where I stopped to check my blood sugar on the porch — it was just under 100 — good to go for another 4 miles. By mile 8, cramping knives hit my stomach and had me sprinting home in pain. No way was that 10th mile happening. And so much for my stomach for the rest of the day.

This is why trial and error is key to my long runs (only three left ’til the race). Now I know Dex4 is not an option. Monday’s Denver Post had a relevant article: “You can fuel your body like an athlete: Timed carbohydrates and liquids will keep you running strong”

“‘Athletes who run more than 90 consecutive minutes must continue to refuel the muscles and the brain with carbohydrates,’ says Bouquet. ‘About 30 to 60 grams (100 to 250 calories) of carbohydrates per hour from ‘go-gurts,’ dried fruit, frozen grapes, sport drinks, gels and bars, and even jelly beans will do the trick.’…Fluids are vital during a race as well to prevent dehydration that can drastically affect performance, says Bouquet. She recommends switching back and forth between water and sports drinks — 6 to 10 ounces every 15 minutes — during endurance events to supply fluids as well as essential electrolytes (especially sodium).”

I’m reminded why 9+ miles (more than 90 minutes for me) has always been intimidating. Even non-diabetics have to worry about this as the article describes:

“So it’s important not to ‘bonk’ — the term used to describe what happens when muscle fuel (glycogen) is depleted and a runner ‘hits the wall.’ The brain cannot burn fat for energy, says Bouquet; it needs carbohydrates before and during strenuous events. Otherwise, blood-sugar levels drop drastically and cause disorientation and other symptoms of hypoglycemia.”

My next experiment includes a handheld water bottle called an Amphipod that has a pouch for my glucose tablets (sticking to solid form). Thinking I’ll fill it with Gatorade to sip along the way to give me extra carbs and electrolytes. Will try to grab a few waters at the stations on the course — but I’m fearful of the “stomach sloshing” and needing to pee! Will try out the Amphipod on my planned 12-mile run Sunday — the longest practice run before the actual race on May 16.

To those readers who have done a half marathon or more — please share what you ate and drank along the way. I’m very open to suggestions… My two-mile recovery run today will be a nice break. Hands-free with no food or drink required!

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