Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I'm not doing that again

Last week I ran faster and further every day than I could remember managing in Singapore. I began to suspect that this miraculous acceleration wasn't because I'd found a new pair of legs, but because of what I was drinking.

When I read Brain Training For Runners, one thing that really stood out was about tricking your brain by drinking carbohydrate-rich sports drinks, and in particular drinking Accelerade, because it's the only one to contain protein as well. I was sceptical but interested enough to bring a 2-pound bucket of the stuff back from Bellevue, and although it tastes of artificialberry, drinking it was accompanied by this uncanny increase in my pace.

For the first few days I'd thought it was jet-lag, because it's well known that athletes perform much better when you deprive them of sleep and make them watch terrible films on tiny screens mounted in the back of seats that are too close to their knees. Then I thought perhaps it was the change in climate, but that made no sense either: I'd got faster in Bellevue because the air was much cooler, which gave my heart a rest from preserving homeostasis and allowed it to feed my muscles more delicious, oxygenated blood. Moving back to Singapore's sweaty embrace should have slowed me down.

So perhaps it was the Accelerade, or perhaps I was just pushing myself harder. I couldn't tell. I needed to perform an experiment.

That was why today I got up, filled a bottle with nothing but water, and set off for my morning run, breakfast nothing but a hope for the future, and waited to see if I would still go as quickly as before.

I think it was the cyclist Anquetil who was asked when he used drugs and replied "only when it was absolutely necessary.". Then they asked him when it was absolutely necessary: "almost all the time". It seems about the same for me with Accelerade.

I still clocked a respectable time (for me); about 5:15 per km for 10k. But it didn't feel right; I was plodding, my legs felt hollow and dead rather than moving swiftly, and all the way round I kept wishing I'd dosed myself up with delicious 4 parts carb to 1 part protein goodness. It's useful to run fasted sometimes (it should get your body better at burning fat, and more grateful when you do fuel it) but it's not something I want to do all the time.

That does make me wonder how I'm going to survive Osaka, as I can't carry eight pints of Accelerade with me, and I won't have my wife waiting every 10k with a fresh bottle. Still, there's a little way yet to figure that out. Tomorrow, there's more running up hills.


Folkestone Fry Ups said...

Simply wear four Camelbaks at once!

Mr Cushtie said...

I bow before your genius

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