My planned training run was a set of hill repeats on the trails about 5kms from my house. My legs felt good from the start, but half way up the first hill set I started to feel quite lethargic and had a more elevated than usual heart rate.
It was humid, which I do struggle with, but I wouldn’t normally feel this until later. I felt generally below par, and groggy. It then struck me that I had skipped lunch (which I would not normally do as I enjoy my food to much).
The next couple of hills sets were very different, feeling pretty light headed, and as if I had no fuel in the tank, even though the legs felt fine.
It was obvious to me now that I was Hypoglycemic, and my blood sugar was dipping fast. The effects were being felt in my head more than anywhere else, which was frustrating as I felt quite strong otherwise.
I did the sensible thing and took the short route home to get some food into me. Within about 45 mins of eating a sweet snack and some pasta I started feeling much better and within 2 hours was back to normal.
It goes to show how easily you could be taken out of a race by not watching your nutrition properly. In an ultramarathon neglecting your carbohydrate intake could stop you from completing the event, because of the negative physical feeling coupled with the impact on your mental well being.
The frustration is that it can easily be avoided and even if you do suffer from it, provided you have the mental acuity to deal with it appropriately – that is eat some simple carbs and wait a short while.
The thing was for me if I had a gel or snack bar in my pack, I could have continued on to finish the session properly.
This experience for me is the essence of ultramarathon running, in that you are always learning about your body and how it reacts to certain conditions, and then how to deal with it to keep running. In addition, it teaches you to be prepared, to ensure you can make the most of your training sessions.
So as a minimum I’d recommend taking with you each time you head out a phone, some emergency cash, a basic first aid kit, a food portion (such as a gel) and some fluids. The reasons for stopping you running can be more subtle than a trauma such as a sprain, but they can be easily overcome.
This is another lesson I take with me towards my 33 Marathons Challenge later this year.
Have fun out there!
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”