It's been 15 years since I ran anything serious (four marathons in six months), then I started training earlier this year for the 2009 Disney marathon...I'm 43 now.
I ran a half-marathon here in Jacksonville yesterday (on T/G morning) - finished in 2:16 with the last half of if averaging 9:45 mile splits by design. I loaded up an hour before the run with a banana, half of a PowerBar (peanut butter flavor), a handful of peanuts and M&Ms, and a high-carbohydrate package of Gatorade. Everything was consumed by 30 minutes before the start of the race, giving my stomach time to work on it, noting that most of it was soft food.
During the run, I did NOT eat anything and drank only water and gatorade form the stations. I made sure that I didn't force the pace until 10 miles. Was still able to average a respectable 10:00 per mile pace except for the potty break mile. I did not have any problems with leg cramps or side stitches and felt good enough to crank out (by my standards!) the final two miles in 9:10 and 9:15 respectively.
Here's my advice for you. Chart out a 1.5 to 2.0 mile loop around your house and plan to train your stomach as well as your muscles. My 1.7 mile loop takes me 15 minutes and I stop at the house to take in something every loop. Some loops, it's only a bite of PowerBar and a half-cup of gatorade; other loops it will be just water; still other loops will be a gel pack, water and a few pretzels. When you pull off eight loops at that distance, you've not only run a half-marathon, but you've also figured out what YOUR stomach will handle and how YOUR muscles react over that 2-hour training period. If your last two loops are not killing your legs or your stomach and you've kept a steady pace, then work on more food and liquid intake on future training loops. The point is to experiment and see what happens. Keep what works for you and tweak or remove what doesn't.
I've heard that oatmeal and honey (mentioned above and also by the running experts around town) work really well, too. I plan to add those items over the next three training weeks before my next 1/2 marathon just before Xmas.
Good luck with your half marathon race,a nd let us know what training menus have worked for you!
Here's my motto: "Every step, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction." - Jim in Jacksonville
That's funny, I'm the same age as you and run at almost exactly the same pace -- If you didn't live 2,500 miles away we could run together! That's a good idea to do short loops around the neighborhood to test different food/drink combinations. My house is on a hill but there is a flat pedestrian path very close by that I could easily do a 2-mile loop on. In fact I often do... I just hadn't thought of doing it repeatedly with stops to eat and drink. The short run up to the house from the path would give me a little extra hill workout... always a good thing since our local races always have some hills.
Thanks for the ideas!
Jim: Wow. That's a meal just before a race. I might have a cup of black coffee with honey an hour before a marathon.
Oatmeal = fiber ==> bathroom stops. I avoid any food (salads, greens, spicy foods, fiber rich foods) for 24 hours prior to the race that might cause pit stops during the marathon.
Excellent suggestion on "stomach training".
Lies Spectators tell Marathoners: 1) Last Hill! 2) Almost there! 3) You look great!
I'm not up to date on these " gels" so I can't really comment. But since you asked about the old days. I would drink only water during the race. I'm sure during your 10K runs they had water stations. The mini's I have ran in early May so sometimes warmer temperature was a consideration, they had water every mile. Like the other person said know b4 hand what reaction your body will have to Gatorade or any other drink available. I have not done any triathlons so just can't comment on the longer events.
Also in today's races try to find out before hand how crowded the race will be, and gauge your pace accordingly. I trained for my first Mini with 10K's and of course longer training runs, and I would pick the water bottle from the table or someones hands and drink on the run ( meaning I trained that way and didn't stop at the stations and then walk while drinking the water). My last Mini with 25,000 runners was so crowded that you had to stop and wait at every water stop to get water, then fight the runners to get back to running again. To me it was a pain,obviously that is not the type of race to run if you are trying for a PR race run. Unless I run the Indy 500 Mini again for fun, I will run much smaller minis', maybe less than 10,000 runners.
Just my opinions.
This is an interesting conversation and thanks to those contributing. I am looking to train for the marathon in May and nutriton was something I was concerned on. I have run up to 10 miles without hitting the wall - but had not considered what I needed to eat.
I have heard about the honey and have been told many times that is best. In addition, you can get 1 TSP sticks of honey pretty cheap and they have multiple positives besides just the carbs/ calories. Whatever I do, I will be incorporating those in my runs in the future.
My race times (2012)
Race Schedule for the year:
May 6th Frederick Running Festival 1/2 Marathon
May 28th Run through the Park, Ligonier 5k
August Tentative - 5 miler in Chambersburg, PA
October Baltimore Running Festival Marathon (also the 2nd part of the MD Double challenge)
Personal Best :
5K : 28:32 Run through the Park, Ligonier PA
5mile : TBA- Marine Corp 5 Miler in August, Chambersburg PA
10mile : 1:44:52 Cherry Blossum Festival Run, Washington DC
Marathon : 5:01:22 Akron Marathon
I can say that I have trained with and without some gel help (I have found Gu brand the least offensive) and notice a definitive difference. My experience has been that one packet before I start a long run and another after about 10 miles works well. I ran my first marathon on only water and gatorade, and I definitely suffered (and slowed) because of it.