Saturday, 17 February 2018

Parkrun on a Bright, Sparkly Morning & Fuelling Runs

I haven't run parkrun for a few weeks so I was looking forward to donning my runners and getting out there this morning, not least because my husband, who is usually so far ahead I can't even see him, is marathon training (running back from parkrun to get an extra 16 miles in) so decided he would run with me. We haven't done a parkrun at the same speed for a year or more. It was a new experience for M, being in the middle of 1000 runners- it really does slow you down and the first minute was spent trying to navigate past hundreds of legs and manoeuvre into a space where we could run at a more comfortable pace. The weather was glorious- 1 degree and clear skies, really invigorating. We'd been going about a mile when our friend Lynne ran up along side, the three of us then had a very companionable trot round the rest of the course chatting and generally catching up on news.

I've been steadily increasing my miles at home, which means I've been running at more of an endurance pace, the kind of speed you feel you can keep up all day, but I always find I run faster at parkrun. Probably some innate competitiveness kicks in when there are other people present. So I went from 6min/ kms at home to 5:20 and then 4:38 on the last one at parkrun. I'm still way off my 23:09 PB and running today (27 something) , wondered how I'd ever managed to go that fast!

When you start running longer distances nutrition becomes more important, so I've been paying more attention to my diet recently because it has to fuel the long runs. Your body stores enough glycogen (carbohydrate) to fuel about 90 minutes of exercise, so anything over that and you're depleting your stores. I don't generally take food with me unless I'm doing a competitive half marathon when I take a few jelly babies. At home I'd run 13-14 miles without taking food or water (unless it was a hot day), but I always make sure I eat something within half an hour of getting home. There's a general 3:1 rule for refuelling after a long run, which is that you should aim to have about 150 calories worth of 3:1 carbs to protein within 30 mins of finishing exercise. I usually use these after a race because they're not far off the 3:1 rule and are easy to take with me...

At home, I run first thing in the morning often before breakfast, so I have this when I get home...

Oats in coconut milk with chia seeds and a capsule of cod liver oil. Oats are slow release carbs so they're great for fuelling or refuelling runs and the protein in the seeds helps muscles repair any damage, while the cod liver oil is good for joint mobility and the coconut milk has fat, carbs, protein, calcium, iron, magnesium and vitamin c in it.

The other thing I've started doing is having a salt stick capsule when I get back. These are electrolytes and contain sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. They've been designed to specifically replicate salts lost during exercise. I've tried bulk powders salts which you add to water and juice. I ran last year's half marathons on those, but they are an acquired taste and after half a litre I often felt a bit queasy on them. I avoid additives and synthetics in food so was after something natural and the salt sticks are the perfect solution. I have one with a glass of water when I get back from any run, winter or summer, and now also don't get post-run headaches in the way I did.

Of course, you can also do this, which gets the salts and sugars back into your system in a more fun way ;o)

M has these for marathons, glucose tabs which I may try in place of last year's jelly babies...

If you ask runners what they love best about the sport, a lot of them will tell you it's because you can eat anything you want (cake scores quite high on this list!), and while that's true to an extent, you can't fuel your body on rubbish and empty calories and expect it to perform well, so our main meals at home tend to be fish, rice and vegetables. 

Having said that, I wouldn't want you to go away with the impression that I never strayed into chocolate, cream or sugar territory. After any run up to about 9 miles I'm hungry all afternoon and have been known to succumb to these as a quick sugar/ carb fix with a bit of protein thrown in by way of the hazelnuts for good measure...

But after longer runs it's usually the following day when I'm ravenous and I've learnt I need to take cheese, crackers, apples, carrots and the occasional biscuit with me if I'm not at home to stop me falling over :o) The best thing about running (apart from doing it) is that you're properly hungry for your food afterwards.

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend? I am attempting soufflés this afternoon. Never made them before so it could be a complete and unmitigated disaster!

CT :o)


  1. It is good when you find the right things that work for you isn't it. I am sure that your jelly babies must work better than your beloved's substitute though, because what could be better than a jelly baby! Hope that the souffles go well today.

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed your run, it sounds like the weather conditions were perfect. I'm also pleased to read it's not just me who can't take on any fluids while I'm running. I always feel like it's something I'm supposed to do but I just don't like to.
    And thank you for the handy tips about refuelling. I knew a chocolate orange brownie wasn't really cutting it. ;-)
    Good luck with the souffles. X

  3. Glad to see the chocolate bar included. Phew.. Hopefully another run tomorrow but i dare say a little slower than your pace. I will take note of all your great nutritional advice. I'm addicted to coconut water now :) Bx

  4. Topic...with hazelnuts in every bite...lovely x

  5. I can tell you will be running for a long time because you have researched what to do, when to do it and eat well. Look how well your knee is doing.

    gud gud job nice tall person who runs woof
    cheers, parsnip and mandibles

  6. Oats for breakfast here too after my morning dog walk, with a couple of cashew nuts, a dried apricot, soya milk and Greek yoghurt. Nutrition is a complicated subject I think. I can see the advantages of being extra hungry. Hope you have a good Sunday. CJ xx

  7. Fascinating to see what you refuel with. I have chia seeds in my morning smoothie, but don't relish the way they swell up if they get stuck in your teeth! I used to love Topics but haven't had one for years - all those hazelnuts; it's almost a health food! xx

  8. Looks like you are eating all the right things for your runs.keep up the good work and stay healthy. Have a good week ahead.

  9. So please it's all coming together!

    You are an absolute running guru and next time we meet for tea, please don't think i'm weird if i sit really close and hope that all that knowledge will pass to me by a process of osmosis ;-) xx

    1. Oh my Lord that’s a compliment but I don’t know half as much as you! Xx

  10. Those salt tabs look good- I use tabs that you put into water but they do have added flavours and things so aren't the most natural.
    That's a busy parkrun- I think Bushy and Southampton are the busiest two that I've been to- my local ones either get up to 200 or 300 and even the 300 feels busy with a narrow start!


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x