Lessons learned from the Yamaha Run For Heroes 21K

Now that it’s official that I have bettered my previous 21K, I thought I’d look back at my Yamaha Run For Heroes 21K and see what I did right and what I need to work on.

Things I did right

First,  I didn’t under-estimate the need to keep my energy levels high by eating during the run.  In the Mizuno run, which was my very first 21K run, I “hit the wall” and was on fumes during my last 3 kilometers.  It was an arduous experience.  My running pace was reduced to a slow shuffle.  In that race, I just had one banana for breakfast and I had no nutrition during the run.  Well, I assumed that the organizers would be serving bananas somewhere along the route.  Unfortunately I assumed too  much.

This time, I brought along four energy gels, plus a drink that was spiked with a carbohydrate-laden energy powder.  This was the first time I ever tried these types of sports nutrition, and I was worried that it would nauseate me or give me some stomach discomfort.  Fortunately I suffered no ill effects.  I tried the Hammer banana-flavored gel about 45 minutes before the run.  Then had another serving at the 1-hour mark and then another at the 2-hour mark.

Second, I kept myself well-hydrated.  In the last Mizuno run, I didn’t take full advantage of the hydration stations.  The result was that I was gulping down water and Gatorade at the last few kilometers.  They say that by the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  This time, I grabbed cups of water even if I didn’t feel thirsty.

I also kept a slower, easier pace.  I didn’t jump out and go for a under-6 min per kilometer pace.  I aimed for something between 6.5 – 6.75 mins/kilometer.   There’s a running adage that says to start slow and end fast.  It allows muscles to warm up and it prepares your lungs and heart for a more intense pace.  I learned, the hard way, the price of not adhering to that adage and I paid that price during my biking stage when I tried to zoom up cardiac hill in Santa Rosa.  I ended up conquering that hill when I did the “slow but sure” approach.

Things I need to work on

My next 21K run is the Rexona Run on July 24.  My goal is to break 2:20.  From now until then I’ll need to log some serious kilometers and add some stretching and strength routines.  What slowed me down was not lack of stamina or exhaustion.  I felt my legs weakening and weighing me down.

Then there is the after-run pain I felt in my left hip, a pain that I would guess is attributed to IT band syndrome (ITBS).  I’ll do some stretches to ease ITBS and see how it goes.

Should I go the minimalist/barefoot approach?  I’m still on the fence with that one.  The after-run pain I felt was entirely different than when I ran using the Vibrams.   In the evening following the Mizuno Run, I felt no pain and no stiffness.   Maybe it’s the shoes.  Maybe I need to work on form and posture.

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