I completed week 7 of my marathon training.
On Monday, I ran my fastest 3 miler ever, finishing it under 24 minutes.
I ran 12 miles today and it was the first time that I've run for over 2 hours. Although I ran further for my half marathons, I completed both of them in under 2 hours.
It was also the first time that I've used a gel to refuel mid-run.
Gels are gooey concoctions with a mixture of carbohydrates and electrolytes (primarily sodium and potassium). They are designed to be quickly absorbed by your body to provide fast refueling during intense exercise. They help avoid the condition known as "hitting the wall" or "bonking". This is when an athlete suddenly loses energy and becomes fatigued due to a depletion of glycogen stores. For runners, this typically occurs after 15 to 20 miles of running.
While I was in no danger of hitting the wall during my 12 mile run, I'll definitely need something for the marathon. There are a number of gels on the market and from what I've read, everybody is different when it comes to liking the taste and texture, being able to stomach the gel, etc. I've got the next few weeks to experiment with a few gels to find one that works for me. I took a PowerGel at the 8 mile mark. It was chocolate flavoured and yummy. It also contained caffeine for an extra boost. I didn't really feel that it made a difference but maybe the difference was that I didn't tire as much as I might have. I felt pretty good for the whole 12 miles and I don't seem to have any post-run soreness.
I ran a total of 24 miles this week and that's the most I've ever done in a single week.
So, it was a week of firsts but there are many more to come. By the time September swings around, these records will all seem insignificant.