Sunday, November 12, 2006

Crash and Burn

Today was my long walk and well, the title tells it all. It was my first attempt at racewalking the marathon distance and here's how it went:
Mile  1 - 11:39          Mile  8 - 11:46          Mile 15 - 13:08
Mile 2 - 13:16 Mile 9 - 11:55 Mile 16 - 12:08
Mile 3 - 13:01 Mile 10 - 12:50 Mile 17 - 12:17
Mile 4 - 13:02 Mile 11 - 12:36 Mile 18 - 13:26
Mile 5 - 13:00 Mile 12 - 12:47 Mile 19 - 13:24
Mile 6 - 12:44 Mile 13 - 12:54 Mile 20 - 13:52
Mile 7 - 12:57 Mile 14 - 12:41 Mile 21 - 14:09
_____________________________Crash and Burn --> Mile 22 - 14:52
Average Pace - 12:55 Minutes Per Mile
Total Workout - 4:44:24

Apparently I used up my glycogen stores around mile 20 and my body had to switch over to burning fat. You'd think that's a good thing to burn fat but it takes more energy and it slows you down. In addition, it can play tricks with your mind. To quote from British Journal of Sports Medicine article, Cognitive orientations in marathon running and “hitting the wall” by Clare D Stevinson and Stuart J H Biddle:
“The wall” is a term used in the context of a marathon to refer to the point, generally at about 20 miles, where glycogen supplies have been exhausted and energy has to be converted from fat. This is a slower process than with glycogen and the consequential shortage of glucose to the brain may result in hypoglycaemia, the scientific term for “the wall”. This can be an extremely unpleasant experience with symptoms including a lack of physical coordination, dehydration, paraesthesia (tingling or numbness in the toes or fingers), nausea, muscle spasms, dizziness, an inability to think clearly, and extreme physical weakness.

At least I was thinking clearly enough to stop the workout.

Even though I didn't read this article before the workout, I was sort of expecting something like this would happen. I haven't been doing enough long distance work and even though I had a few "forced" days off during the week due to my job workload, I might have pushed it a little too hard the day before this long walk.

I was feeling pretty good through most of the walk. In fact this was the first time that I was able to keep Joshua, my running nephew, within my sight for almost 8 miles, but Joshua had to quit at mile 10 because of a side ache. I might have done better if we had started earlier but it was a nice sunny day at the beach and the warm temperature brought out quite a crowd. By the end of the workout it was getting difficult just to weave through the masses on the boardwalk.

In addition, my feet must have swelled up because the right shoe was feeling tight in the toe box. I didn't blister but a toenail got enough pressure to bleed slightly. I must have been trying to keep the weight off the foot and as a result I hurt my right knee. Once I gave up the workout I took off my shoes and walked barefoot on the wet sand--that felt so good! I still like the shoes, Loco Banditos, but they seem to run small and I'll need to try out a half-size larger.

Overall it wasn't a total disaster. Up until mile 17 my average pace was 12:37 min/mile and I feel that I could have gone faster. The big question--is hitting the wall a matter of distance or time? In other words, was that wall at mile 18 or at hour 4?

The only way to find out is to do more distance workouts. But there is a saying that goes like, "long slow distance workouts creates slow distance runners." Maybe push some more on the long walks? Hit the wall a little harder or walk through the wall? Better yet, move the wall out of the way.