It's funny how sometimes you take the ability to run 20 or 30 miles every weekend for granted, and then follow that up with another 10-20 miles the next day. No problem right? That's what we do. And we sandwich it around going out with friends, chasing kids around the playground, mowing the lawn, and everything else people do in life each day. But then one day you are in the middle of a longish training run and it doesn't work out that way. That happened to me this past Saturday.
So I was supposed to run 50 miles, although it didn't quite turn out that way. It was not even 30, and it completely sucked. I headed out to Duval to run 50, and decided to do a double out and back just so I could get enough liquids. So anyway, I start off nice and easy running 8:30's which generally feels like a walk, nice and easy and the heart rate is barely even elevated. It's a little warm, a little humid but nothing too crazy. I start running and by mile 3 I am already feeling hungry. OK, no big deal, I eat a powerbar as I shuffle along. And drink my Nuun out of my camelbak every so often. I think I'm doing just fine as far as nutrition goes. Whatever, I'm just running relaxed and everything is as easy as it should be for the 1st 12.5 miles. I turn around and continue back down the trail toward my car - just taking a little detour at about mile 16 to stop at a store and get some water and refill my liquid. All is still well. I continue running and pop some clif bloks and continue to drink.
35 minutes later I am walking. I am trying to figure out what is going on and I cannot. My legs really don't hurt at all. But I feel like all of a sudden I am in survival mode and it happened in the blink of an eye. Fast. i walk for a mile and eat and drink, and slowly start to jog and I just don't have it. If I were on a bike I would say that I lost all my power. I can still run, but it is an embarrasing slow shuffle. Only 2 weeks ago I won a 50K and was running sub 6:00 pace at mile 31. Now it is remarkably flat and I'm barely moving. I eat some more and drink some more, and try to keep running but it is obvious that whatever I did just wans't working for me this day. I eventually recover enough to run the last hour back to the car @ 8:30 pace - but it was ugly and felt worse.
It's not like I haven't ever had this happen before. But usually it's in a race after running for 9 or 10 hours - not after 2.5 hours of pretty flat terrain at a sedentary pace. I decided to just cut this run short as i know forcing the distance can take a lot out of oneself, and training is not the place to wipe myself out for a couple weeks.
I got home and jumped on the scale and said "oh shit!" That lies part of my problem. My weight is coming down from running 70-80 miles per week, but there is no way in hello? that I should weigh 164 pounds -not yet anyway - after a run and drinking the 25 minute drive home. So I would guess the root casue to be: A) I just didn't drink enough B) i didn't eat enough in the days before the run.
On the bright side my legs were fine and I ran 20 the next day @ 7:45 pace which was comfortable and relaxed.
The moral of the story is yes ultra runner type people can go out and run for a long time fairly comfortably, but we need to make sure the tank is full before we leave. I don't want to have to suffer again like that needlessly, and after all the years I have been running or riding bikes or whatever I should damn well know better by now. I just need to remind myself every so often.