Recovering from recovery week

Keep-Calm-and-Drink-More-WaterAfter last weekend’s 30K race, this week’s training plan called for a “recovery week.” Yes, just a short, relaxing 19K run on the agenda. I found myself saying ridiculous things like “Oh, I can have some wine with dinner! It’s only 19K tomorrow,” or “Sunday will be easy. It’s only 19K.”

This is insanity. At what point did 19K become such a pathetic little distance that I can convince myself that drinking wine the night before is a perfectly acceptable choice? This is by no means a short run. But, after three weeks of distances over 20K, it did seem like a bit of a break. It’s funny how your perception of a long run changes over time.

I paid a price for my arrogance. I did not hydrate appropriately before this run and I suffered big time. In fact, I think it was as close to real dehydration as I’ve ever come. It’s not like I was delirious or hallucinating, but I did feel perfectly terrible during and after.

Here’s what happened.

I woke up feeling a bit lazy. I was visiting my parents on their boat in Grand Bend and I felt more like sun tanning on the bow of the boat than putting on my running gear and going out on my little 19K run. I ate breakfast, had a few sips of water and headed out to this lovely paved biking and walking trail that runs parallel to the water. It started off well. It was a cool, crisp morning and the path was shaded. But as soon as the sun peaked above the trees, it was sweltering and humid.

At 11K, I felt pretty bad. My head was throbbing and my water was dangerously low. But the only way to get back was to run, so I had to continue.

This is the first run in a long time that I can remember feeling really thirsty. I normally think about food on my long runs, but on this run, I kept fantasizing about chugging water. I knew it was a long way off and I started to feel a little panicked that my water was basically gone. I was suffering. I started conserving what little water was left in my fuel belt and using it as incentive to make it to the next walk break. A tiny mouthful of water became a big reward. I was sweating so much my iPhone stopped working. The last 4K were rather unpleasant.

When I finally reached home, my water was completely gone. I was red and blotchy, breathing heavily and so very thirsty. I drank two water bottles in about a minute and it took me hours to feel normal again. In fact, even today, I’m not sure I’m completely recovered. I still felt a bit off all day despite drinking an ocean’s worth of water.

Recently, a fellow runner was asking how I stay hydrated on long runs. I gave three pieces of advice, none of which I actually follow consistently. It’s time I start practicing what I preach.

  1. Pick a route with water fountains. There are lots, if you look for them. In Toronto, there are a few along the waterfront and plenty in various parks. Make mental notes where they are and plan your run around that route.
  2. Pick a route with runner friendly businesses that will fill your water bottles for you. Some Starbucks in the city are very accommodating to sweaty, thirsty runners.
  3. Buy bigger water bottles. You can buy larger bottles that fit standard fuel belts, or larger handheld bottles at places like The Running Room. Either would be good options.
  4. Don’t be arrogant. Distance running in the summer is tough. Water is super important. Hydrate appropriately before your run – even if it is only 19K.

Do you have any hydration tips for long runs?

6 Comments

  1. Joey August 26, 2013 / 9:31 pm

    I take an S Cap every hour during my long runs. But some other electrolyte pill should work too.

    • Miranda August 26, 2013 / 10:23 pm

      I had some Recovery e21 pills, but ran out! Good tip to have these though. Definitely more portable than litres and litres of water!

  2. Paul August 26, 2013 / 10:57 pm

    This weekend I did 29km and went through 10 8oz water bottles. I used water fountains, and a husband in the running group met us at 15km mark with drinks. It was well appreciated.

    • Miranda August 27, 2013 / 9:07 am

      That is a very nice man! Maybe I should plan a shorter route around home so I can stop in for refills!

  3. aprilcunningham August 26, 2013 / 11:04 pm

    I try to drink lots of water the night before, too. Nothing worse than a hot run, though. Nice job on powering through.

  4. brendajstringer August 28, 2013 / 9:51 am

    I found a Camelbak on Trade Me for $35. They’re the best!

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