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.