I am currently in the middle of my half marathon training for my third half marathon — Go! St. Louis. In training, you will have 2 regular runs and one longer run at the end of the week. At six weeks the longer run starts to get… well, longer. It is when the training starts to get tough and I have a couple of tips to share that have helped make my longer runs easier. Week 6 is the hardest week in my training program because I have to run a 10.2, a 5, a 6 and a 10 mile run ALL in one week! The other 11 weeks in my training program only have one long run and I only run 3 times a week. Last night I did the first long run of the week — the 10.2 miler! Whew, so glad to have that one done!
For my first half marathon, I tried the GU gels… they have some wonderful flavors, but I found it really hard to swallow them while running due to my mouth being dry and the texture would just make me gag. For my second half marathon, The Disney Wine and Dine, I decided to try out the Exteme Sports Beans made by Jelly Belly! These are little packages of jelly beans that provide energy. You are supposed to down an entire package 30 minutes before your run… I usually eat about half a package, I just think the entire package is too much for me. The jelly beans are larger than the jelly belly candy beans, I would say maybe two times the size of a normal jelly bean. I read the reviews and the Watermelon beans came up with the best flavor, I have not tried any of the other flavors. I also ordered the caffeinated ones (I got a HUGE box off of Amazon for really cheap), because the Wine & Dine was a night race. Then, during the race, I will down 2 jelly beans per mile… 3 if I can stand a third one. I usually stop eating after I am 3 miles away from the finish, because it takes 30 minutes to digest them. These really help supply your body with some good carbohyrates that it burns into fuel. It is really good to have this boost when you are running long distances. I do not use the jelly beans unless I am running over 8 miles.
After running, it is important that you drink a recovery drink. One of my wine friends (Maria) was kind enough to mail be a 3 pack of the Hammer Recoverite in Chocolate, Orange and Strawberry. Of course, the chocolate one was my favorite and now I only buy them in the Chocolate flavor. I used to drink these after 6 mile runs when I was training for the first half marathon, but now that I am more seasoned I really do not drink one unless I have run 8 or more miles. So, basically, I same them for the really long runs (to me). I have had this drink with just plain cold water or I have had it blended with some cold ice (my wonderful husband does this when I happen to run at home on the treadmill). This drink has glutamine which helps your muscles after long runs. The drink helps your muscles recover by sucking protein into them when they are hurt. This helps to rebuild the muscles and speed up recovery.
Hopefully these tips help you as they have helped me. The only other advice I can give is to make sure you stay hydrated throughout the run! I usually try to drink water every 3 miles on longer runs, otherwise on 6 miles or less I will drink a little water before the run and then fill up on my liquids after the run.
I also really enjoy a large glass of cold chocolate milk after some of my 4-6 mile runs, milk is supposed to be good for recovery, too! As long as you rehydrate with some water first, and give your stomach time to calm down, milk is an excellent idea. There is a growing body of research that milk (especially chocolate milk) is one of the best recovery drinks available. It replenishes energy used, provides some protein for rebuilding, and gives you calcium which is important to muscle function (your bones aren’t the only part of your body that need calcium).