Review: 2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel

by Joel Stanford

Before I bore you with my deeper thoughts on this product, let me tell you about my general impressions.  The first time I consumed one of these was on a trail loop Erik Stanley had me and my fellow Off Rogues plowing through.  The circuit, which ranges across the far western ends of the Barton Greenbelt is the very definition of hilly, rocky, and punishing.  I was 13 miles into a 20 mile run, monstrously hungry from a lack of breakfast, tired of all the hills, and having lustful thoughts about the silver package of life sustaining sugars nestled in my handheld’s pocket.  Relenting to temptation (and against Schrup’s sage advice on avoiding gels in training), I greedily tore off the top of the package while pounding down yet another hill and squeezed a bit into my mouth.  My eyes widened, my taste buds sang happily, and I began to claw desperately at the packaging, squeezing out every last drop.  Imagine the taste of incredibly delicious dark chocolate cupcake frosting blended with mermaid tears, or the sensations of drinking lustily from Willy Wonka’s chocolate river.  The taste and consistency was the best I’ve had in a gel.  Granted, hunger makes everything taste better, but these are light years beyond the thick, nausea inducing gels of every runner’s dismay.  The thin consistency (more of a liquid than a gel), the saltiness, and the dark chocolate flavor profile are fantastic.  After about 15 minutes the sugars and caffeine whomped into my system in a very satisfactory manner, and I eagerly burned through the rest of the run.  Subsequent tests on a 23 mile trail run (I consumed two packets over the course of this), and on a 30.5 mile road run (one packet at mile 14, and one fruit bar at mile 20 – I felt absolutely fantastic throughout) cemented my impressions that this is a solid, very delicious, and functional product.  The protein component leaves tiny bit of chalk on the back of the throat, but this is quickly dispatched with a swig of water.

So what’s up with this product, and why is it twice as costly as other gels?

If you’re shopping for a more robust energy gel, there are limited options out there beyond the basic long chain/short chain sugar blends that are so common (Gu, Accel, Clif, and so forth).  A burgeoning category, notably explored by Gu with their Roctane gels is that of an energy gel with a bit of protein or amino acids thrown in.  Sports drinks have existed for some time with protein in them, but outside of the ultra running set, these typically aren’t used in race or training situations, but rather for recovery.  The science on these remains vague and a bit sketchy (witness Gu’s claims about Roctane), but it does make sense that one could perhaps utilize small amounts of protein during very long endurance events where your body has a long time to break down what you’re giving it.  It always helps to have a basis of comparison, and for the purposes of this review, Roctane seems the closest competitor in terms of claims, composition, and price. Gu goes for individual amino acids (plus a high sodium content), while 2nd Surge goes sledgehammer route with complete proteins – which could also potentially be a bit less digestible.  The amount of protein in 2nd Surge is equivalent to that found in a tablespoon of Peanut Butter (a fantastic pre-run snack in small amounts).

Upon receiving my review package of these gels from Rogue, I turned the box over, scanned the ingredients, and then winced a bit.  The claim?  The gels prominently display the words “all natural” on the box and individual packets.  The reality?  The first ingredient is agave nectar, which is actually very similar to corn syrup both in terms of the amount of chemical wizardry and processing that goes into it, and the ratios of fructose and glucose (never mind the marketing).  Nevertheless, the nutritional profile of the gels are intriguing.  There are three different sugar ingredients – including the long chain sugars (brown rice syrup) that are so important in terms of sustained energy, and the shorter chain hummingbird fuels agave nectar (fructose and glucose), and common cane sugar.  What does all of this mean?  If you’re sensitive to sugar spikes, you might want to stay away.  This product has a higher amount of simple sugars than many of its competitors, and some have complained of a spike/crash after consuming it.

It seems that this is marketed as a race day product, but I personally would only recommend it for marathon distances, grueling runs greater than 3 hours, or ultras (where that protein could be a lifesaver).  In those situations, I think this is a unique and very desirable product, particularly from the aforementioned taste and texture perspective.

Pros: Taste, texture, viscosity, and the intriguing inclusion of a bit of protein.  Highly unique. Zero digestibility issues for this tester, and it really did seem to “stick to my ribs”, in that I didn’t have hunger sensations as quickly as I do with other gels.

Cons: Mr. Schrup will be very angry if you use this during training. The caffeine content is almost obscenely high at 100MG (crashing non-addicts like myself into a wall of fatigue hours after a 2 packet run had ended). They aren’t really “natural”, and the included “antioxidant blend” won’t help you one bit.

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Runner Review: Accelerade

By Elda Hernandez

I am the kind of person who has tried all kinds of products in the past trying to figure out what really works for me. The reality is that being consistent is the only way to achieve results that are advertised. I figured I should be consistent and try it out before I judged this product! I did my testing when I worked out for at least an hour. This included two of my long runs, and multiple hour+ workouts. Running and bootcamp were my workouts and at least 7 different times I tracked the effect of the product – this was fun and new to me!

Ok, so about the drink. Calories are only 120 per serving…not bad! It is a little rich in the sugar department: 20g per serving – yikes! I guess I will be watching my sugar intake the days that I plan on using it. Sodium is alright and actually good for hydration: 210mg. One thing that I thought was funny is that the label says “The Protein Powered Sports Drink,” while it only has 5g of protein per serving. I am not sure what to compare it to, so to me it is just more information. There are a lot of products out there that have more protein in them, but I am pretty sure that this product does what it advertises; it made me feel better!

Ok, now back to the product…

Taste: this flavor (Mountain Berry) is pretty good. It is a little tart and a bit chalky, but pretty tasty. The consistency is a bit thicker than I expected, but it does not have a negative effect. MAKE SURE YOU REALLY MIX WELL. It is important because you will get the chalky bland taste then a POW of sweet at the bottom if you don’t keep shaking it and making sure it is mixed well.

Oh and one more thing, drink it COLD. Warm is not a good taste for this product – TRUST ME.

Feeling (pre-run consumption): I felt a tad bit more energetic. I was more focused and felt hydrated – more so than I usually do during our workouts in this insane heat. I did my time trial and had the Accelerade about 30 minutes before – I think it was a good choice! I survived and did pretty darn good for a new runner – 10 minutes for the mile!!

Feeling (post-run consumption): I really like the way I feel with the Accelerade after workouts. My muscles are not as cramped and I feel a new wave of energy; no, no – this does not mean I want to go running again – just a good feeling. I felt a more calm rest instead of the restless legs with the cramping and heaviness that comes after long runs.

I shared it with my running buddies after 2 runs and they all approved of the taste. A couple of them actually really liked it and the other 2 were just OK with it. My good friend MK said it seemed to help since she didn’t feel the typical aches and pains the day after our long runs. Sweet!

Feeling (during-run consumption): Well here is where things changed. I cannot drink this stuff while running for the ONE reason that it doesn’t go down while warm. Blah. To be fair, my water bottles are little runner ones that attach to the waist belt – I guess I could get an insulated container to run with instead. I am just not one to drink a whole lot while on a run.

I gave it a good shot and really think it is a great product. I really like the way it made me feel after runs and would definitely buy it as a recovery aid.  Thank you Rogue for letting me test this before having to buy it!

Biff! Bam! Bonk!

by John Schrup

My good friend James wrote me an email recently.  You all know James.  Hot wife.  Coaches for Rogue, knows a lot of stuff.  Looks like he might have played an Amish dude in that Harrison Ford vehicle, Witness, from back in the day, except for the electric yellow Frees and the Euro-style glasses.  Well, his beard looks like it was in the movie.  He’s got one of those Amish beards.

Anyway, he wrote me an email while we were sitting next to each other in a meeting and suggested I write something for the blog on bonking.  You know, hitting the wall?  Screwing the pooch?  Shitting the bed? (James himself has also written a great piece on the topic)

Maybe you’ve experienced it?  If you’re a marathoner, at some point you have.  If you haven’t, oh don’t you worry your pretty little head, you will.  Oh, yes.  You will.  And there will be no mistaking it when you do.  You’re doing your long run, or your race, or whatever and then it’s kinda like getting hit by a truck, except if the truck were made out of a planet.

Hitting the wall, or bonking, if you come from the le monde du cyclisme, is when the body runs out of ready available fuel.  Glycogen is the form of carbohydrate that the body uses for fuel, and is stored mostly in the muscles and liver.  When that is depleted…bonkity bonk bonk.  The average person stores about 90 minutes worth of glycogen; a moderately trained person can go about two hours on the same amount of fuel.  Back in the day, when they did studies with runners and fuel efficiency, the runners could make it about 18-20 miles in two hours, and then the wheels came off.  That is where we get the mythological 20 mile “wall.”  But also because 20 is a nice, round number.  19.27 doesn’t have the same ring to it.  Neither does 18.6, unless you call it by its other name, 30K.

Since the dawn of marathon training history, we’ve done long runs to build mitochondria, capillaries, muscle strength, blah blah blah.  And also to make the body more fuel efficient.  Conventional wisdom would have you do, say, a 10 mile run first.  90 minutes, whatever.  Then every week or every other week you’d add to that, slowly teaching the body to go farther and farther using your body’s own fuel supply.  And at some point in the training program, you’d get up on a Saturday or Sunday morning to meet your posse for the long run and everything would be all fine and dandy, and then at maybe 15 miles, I don’t know, two and a half hours or something, you’d start to feel a little funny.  A little sluggish maybe.  You look at your watch.  There are symbols there you recognize.  Numbers.  But you don’t know what they mean and you can’t figure out for the life of you why they are changing.  You know you’re supposed to know, but you don’t know.  And then maybe you trip over some stray air, and splat! You’re checking the pavement for cracks.  Except real up close.  Moving your legs is not only difficult, it becomes surreal when you think about the tunnel vision and that the part of your face where you put the water isn’t working the way you think it should.

But somewhere along the way, it was discovered that if you refuel on the go, you can make it to the finish line without looking like you got hit by that planet truck.  Cyclists had been doing it for years.   When I was a kid, I thought it was so cool to watch video of le Tour and there were guys eating ham sandwiches and pastries while climbing le Tourmalet or Alpe d’Huez or some shit.  Frank Shorter drank de-carbonated Cokes when he raced.  Same thing.

And when marathoning became the everyman’s Everest, it was determined that it was necessary to refuel often so that you didn’t have a whole Rock and Roll marathon full of zombies, all sideways and drooling, lurching toward the finish line.  And all the training programs bought it and so coaches began to instruct everyone to take heed and start sucking gels or chomping bloks every 45 minutes or whatever.  On training runs.  And so that evolved—or devolved, if you’re old school—into a bunch of people taking gels at mile 3 of a 10 mile run.  (Working on the floor one Friday afternoon, a guy came in and bough six gels of various syrupy sweet flavors.  I asked him if he was stocking up for the next couple of weeks.  No, he said, rather boastfully.  Got a long run tomorrow.  Fourteener.  As if he was climbing a peak and not running to Crestview and back.  I know, right?)

So here it is:  If you are running less than two, two and a half hours you are not supposed to supplement with carbohydrate.  Blasphemy, I know.  But, but….No.  You’re aren’t supposed to.  One of the primary goals of a long run is to make you more efficient in fuel expenditure.  And so if you are supplementing along the way, you are not allowing your body to do what it is supposed to do, you are not going to achieve the benefit that you set out to achieve.  You aren’t.  Each workout has a purpose.

Yes, there are times when you should supplement carbohydrate in training.  But those times are few and far between.  In our group, we have two longer tempo runs that can be viewed as a race simulation or race prep or whatever the kids are calling them these days.  Then, we take carbohydrate not to help us to get further down the road on that day, but because we are going to supplement a bit on race day and we need to make sure we know when and how to do it, to make sure our stomachs are ok with it.

And these days, with modern training methods, even four hour or four hour plus marathoners should need no more than one gel along the way on race day.  I know.  But I’m dead serious.  Your program should be such that you can train your body to go much, much further on very little carbohydrate.  And in fact—get this—most of us aren’t moving fast enough to have to worry about it anyway.  The marathon is a race against fuel depletion.  There are two types of fuel in use—carbohydrates and fatty acids.  We have a limited amount of carbohydrate, which we’ve already discussed.  And then we have a nearly unlimited amount of fat in our bodies for use as fuel.  And your body’s preferred fuel at your marathon race pace is mostly fat.  So why not make use of that?

There are several ways to make your body more fuel efficient.  There are several ways to train your body to burn fat at a greater rate.  Those are for another rant.  But for now, the easiest way to do that is to use carbohydrate supplements only sparingly.  Don’t be afraid of bonking or running low on energy.  You’re supposed to bonk.  It’s how your body adapts.  It’s how you become better.  It’s how the big boys and girls do it, and how you should do it to.

Next time, when I can find a soap box and a steady stream of caffeine infused beverages, I’ll tell you a little bit about everything.

Runner Review: Endurox R4 (chocolate)

by Charles Whitmire

As busy athletes, runners, and triathletes there are certainly plenty of things for us to worry about.

Bandaids over sensitive parts (and trying to get them off), trying to remember to use my foam roller, and overcoming my reluctance for getting out of bed at dark-thirty top my list.

What we do NOT want to worry about is sore muscles.

If you train like I do though, sore muscles are part of life. I aim for three mornings a week where I run a couple miles followed by forty-five minutes in the pool. I run long once over the weekend and I try to get in at least three sessions on my bike each week. …and I’m just training for Sprint distance triathlons.

Over the years, I’ve tried all kinds of things for recovery. Chocolate milk has always been a favorite, but recently, I decided to cut milk from my diet. Its created a huge recovery void. A month ago, after our weekly long run, my fourteen year old son opened the fridge and poured a big glass of chocolate milk. I actually teared up.

So when I got the chance to try Chocolate Endurox, I jumped at it!

In fairness, I’ve been a fan of Endurox from way back. I used it religiously when I was racing bikes. But like a typical boneheaded athlete, I tend to be a bit resistant to change and I stop doing what works at the worst times. Until this experiment for instance, I hadn’t even considered any flavor but tangy orange, and when I switched from cycling to triathlons, I ignored what worked for me in the past, and stopped “needing” my recovery drink after every workout.

Anyway, back to chocolate Endurox. I love it!

It’s very tasty. (Especially if you like chocolate!) I was a bit worried about how chocolate powdered stuff and water would mix – but every time I mix a batch it comes out really tasty. By the way, the more powder you use, the more chocolatey it gets. The instructions recommend two scoops with 12 oz. of cold water. I tend to do two scoops for about 16 oz. of water and it comes out just fine. It’s good enough that after using it for a couple of weeks, I now look forward to it after my workouts.

Yes, it has calories and its not sugar free. In fact, each serving has about 270 calories and 40g of sugar. The kicker is that it also has 26% protein and all kinds of vitamins and good stuff.

I gladly trade the calories for the feeling Endurox gives me the next day. This stuff rocks for recovery! …and what that means is really pretty simple. If I take the time to drink it post-workout, then the next day my legs are recovered and less tired.

Its also super easy to make and very portable. When I run from the house, I make a glass when I get back home. If I am heading out for a workout, I make a batch in a small water bottle and stick it in a cooler. Shake it up good and its golden.

So if you’re looking for something to aid you with recovery – or if your muscles are tired at the beginning of every workout – then give chocolate Endurox R4 a shot. I think you’ll like it.

Runner Review: Accel Recover Bars

by Mary Kay Spellman

My first inclination as I picked up the product from Rogue and read the label was to say, “hey, yeah, no thanks,” when I saw the calorie and sugar counts (200 calories per bar, 40 calories from fat, and 20 grams of Sugars.) One of the biggest reasons I got into running was to aid in losing some unwanted weight, but as someone who is fairly new to running I figured I could use any edge I could get.  Waking up with a sore core (yes, thank you, Coach Robyn, who I affectionately refer to as “the Punisher”) and then treacherous 100 degree runs, I welcomed the thought of a “muscle recovery” bar.

 

 

I decided to try my first bar after a grueling quality workout. Left the bar in my cubby at Rogue and hit the road. Got back and decided I would eat it before heading to the house (a good 15-20 minute drive away). The first thing I noticed was how hard it was to pull the wrapper away from the bar; it was a bit on the sticky side. I am not sure how much of this was bar versus heat related, but I’ll move on…The bar itself has a…ahem, an interesting brown color and texture. Smelled ok, so what the heck? Took my first bite and much to my delight, it was good! I am not sure that I would call the advertised flavor “peanut butter chocolate,” as it tasted like a Tootsie Roll! The consistency wasn’t as “solid” as one, and you could pull and tug on the bar like a Tootsie, but it didn’t have the same “give.” Now I see where the high sugar count comes into play. It tasted really good, and it was hard to believe I was eating something that professed it would be good for me.

Woke up the morning after my first bar, and nothing, zip, nada, zilch. I didn’t feel different, and the aches I had been feeling from a core workout two days earlier, and a hard run the night before still lingered. I wasn’t sure if this was due to overworking my body, hoping it could quickly recover, or the lack of product claims.

Ate my second bar after a midweek run with one of my Rogue compadres. After the run I felt so great I decided to do a few miles on the stationary bike. Hey, the Olympics had been on all week, and I was feeling motivated! The bar this time seemed a little more solid; I guess the heat had played a role in my having the first bar earlier in the week and this bar came from the box happily stationed in my kitchen. Woke up the next day feeling great! My legs didn’t ache, no nagging soreness at all.

But here is where the trouble began….

The following day….so, here I follow Rogue rules and take a day off, then I had my Saturday long run. HORRIFIC run! My legs had absolutely nothing in them. I felt as though I was lugging around 2 cement pipes instead of human flesh. I hadn’t had a run that bad since I took up running months before. Did the bar give me false hopes? Did I only feel relief because I wasn’t actively exercising on that in-between day?

So, horrible run or not (and yes, I know there will be good days and bad days) I tore into my next bar right after my long run. Still delicious and still giving me that chocolate fix I crave. I would recommend consuming bar with a large glass of water. It leaves you a bit thirsty. The Accel Recover Bar could easily be labeled as a meal replacement bar. I ended up going hours before I was hungry again, only consuming water and a couple of cups of coffee.

Ate a bar after my quality workout (hills- ick!) and a jaunt on the stationary bike. Can you say jaunt when you don’t go anywhere? But I digress…. Woke up the following morning with a few aches, but nothing intolerable.

In all, I would say I am 50/50, i.e. have mixed feelings, on whether the bars truly work as advertised. As my body has adapted to new things and grown stronger, perhaps the recovery time has just decreased because of the adaptation, not some miracle cure. I wouldn’t say they don’t work at all and not very well worth trying; if anything, you have a nice chocolatey snack or lite meal.

Keep on keeping on!

Fuel for Thought

Imageby John Schrup

The other day, or 2001, I was at Auditorium Shores, before it became the dog park, when there was grass, doing some strides after a run.   Afterward, I sat in the grass and stretched and people watched, which is the best way to pass your time, any time.  Nearby there was a group of beginner runners sitting in a semi-circle around their coach, listening to him talk about nutrition.  (You know where this is going already, don’t you?)  I remember he was a total asshole triathlete.  Nothing against triathletes at all.  Some of my best friends are triathletes.  My respect for them all is complete, except for this dude.  Total asshole.  If you ever meet a triathlete and he’s the most self-absorbed guy you’ve ever met, it’s probably this guy.  One time, I saw him checking out his reflection—checking out his calves—in a window, and there were, like, a ton of people around.   Anyway, he was giving a nutrition talk.

And he was telling them to eat this many grams of protein and carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight, in this very specific ratio, after they did their workout so that they could replenish all their glycogen stores and shit.  It wasn’t that his information was wrong, because it wasn’t.  He was right on, for the most part.  It wasn’t that he was referencing kilograms, which is, um, Canadian I think, because there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that either.  (But I’d have bet that next to none of those people could convert kilograms to pounds, which is the American way to do things.)  And it wasn’t that he was recommending a particular product made by a company that happened to sponsor him, because being sponsored is totally awesome and mostly I’m just jealous that I’ve only been fast enough to be offered a partial sponsorship (product only) by this company that makes combs.  You know, for your hair. 

Anyway, this guy was talking about replenishing your stores and why protein is important to, you know, your health and stuff.  And as he was talking he was beginning to sound kinda like the teacher in the old Peanuts tv shows, except with more flexing, and I looked around at his runners, his pupils, sitting there so intently, and realized that he was basically teaching a graduate level class to incoming freshmen.  Again, not that they didn’t have the capacity to understand all that.  That’s not what I’m saying.  It was that they were all real, true beginners.  It might even have been a Running 101 class for all I know.  Hell.  I really, really felt for these wide eyed, smiling people because they were all a bit overweight (and some were really overweight) and he was feeding them all this information that had absolutely nothing to do with them.  Nothing.  To.  Do.  With.  Them.  They were there to learn something new, to challenge themselves, to change their lives and he had given them absolutely zero information that would benefit them.   If they had really jumped on the stuff he’d just unloaded on them, really put it into practice, it would have done nothing for them, other than maybe make them gain some more weight.

What he should have been saying was, ok, here’s the deal:  I think it is the best thing in the world that you want to take up exercise as way to change your life.  I appreciate the effort you’ve made to make yourself physically healthier so you can be a better person, so you can be of greater benefit to society.  This is why I do this job.  I want to help you so you can help others, so they can spread the gospel of good health.  For the next 30 days, I want you to eat food.  Yes, food.  Not food products.  For the next 30 days I want you to eat stuff that either grew up out of the ground or that you or someone in reasonable geographic proximity hunted or fished.  You know, your veggies, your fruit, your meats.  Nothing else.  Nothing in a box, nothing that was processed in any way.  So that means no pasta, no bread, no cheese (ok, maybe a little cheese, something good, something a little smelly), no CLIF bars.  Do it.  I promise you, promise you, if you do that for 30 days, you will feel tons better and you’ll lose weight.  You will feel so much better, you don’t even KNOW.  Yes, you can eat potatoes.  No, you cannot eat tortillas.  No.  Not even the whole grain ones.    30 days.  You can do it.  It will change your life.  First, we have to start with the fundamentals, you know, baby steps.  30 days.

But, nooooooo, he was feeding them all this bullshit science-y sounding crap that would be useful to, you know, Lance Armstrong.  This is the thing about Runner’s World and just about every other mainstream health/lifestyle article or publication.  (What’s that they say about people who use the word lifestyle?  They have neither life nor style?)  They try to impress us with all this information, all this data, all this lab coat talk, but they aren’t even speaking to the appropriate audience.   

We are all guilty of buying into it.  We all do it at some point.  Most of the information we get from our desired “bible-of-(insert your favorite activity here)” is delivered to us from vendors of products.  And there is nothing wrong with the vending of products.  Nothing at all.  Some of my best friends vend products.  But they’re trying to sell us something.  They want us to buy their products.  So it behooves them to create marketing that will make us all googly eyed and begin reaching for our debit cards.   And so most of that information, that, ahem, “science” is bullshit.  At least in our context.  In these modern times, with so much information available to us so easily, we can become experts, we can become elite level (or act just like one) with the click of a button.  

I promise, I have no idea what that was all about.  I just had to get that off my chest. This is kinda like the crappy band that doesn’t know how to finish a song, so they just sort of…stop.

Means to an End

by John Schrup

We all put in great amounts of time and effort to prepare for race day.  Everyone does.  We run a ton, we do our GS, our yoga, our Pilates and, when required, we’ll run in the pool (yeah, I can’t think of anything more boring, either).  We essentially ruin our Saturdays with long, fast workouts that put us on the sofa, drifting in and out of consciousness, barely able to operate a remote control.  Our weekday morning workouts leave us over-cooked, our neurons firing intermittently out of exhaustion and depletion.  Your co-workers ask if perhaps you had a late night, you know, wink wink nudge nudge?  Your son inquires as to why there is half eaten roast chicken in the hall closet.   (Not that I’ve even done that.  I just heard about this one guy who did.)

We make big efforts so that we can put it all on the line for one single day.  One.  Single.  Day.  It almost doesn’t seem fair, does it?  You get up absurdly early every morning for six months so that you can do your workouts, or meet your teammates for a run.  You beg off the end of the week happy hour because, well, you have to run for three $%#@ing hours in the morning!  Your kids know that you’re going to be late to the opening game of the soccer tournament because you’re at breakfast with your teammates, or standing in the shower, motionless, because you’re too tired to lift your arms to reach the shampoo.    Big efforts all around!  For one single day.

And then on race day, it is 85 and sunny, or you wake up with a cold, or your calves cramp (that’s NEVER happened before!) or any number of things that can happen on that one single day, and all that goes to shit.

Now what?

Well, nothing.  Nothing at all.  The odds are that it isn’t going to be a perfect day.  The chances of things going the way you dreamed and planned are really, really small.  You take what that day gave you and say thanks.  You give thanks for the lesson of the day.  You give thanks that you had the opportunity to wake up and do this comically difficulty thing.  And then you get 24 hours to bitch and moan about it to anyone who will listen, and then you get up and carry on.  Nana korobi ya oki, the Japanese say.  Fall down seven times, get up eight.

But we can’t expect it to be that easy, can we?  It’s not all Zen and shit.  I mean, we are results driven and we expect results.  And to add to the familiar post-race depression that invariably sets in, now we don’t have anything to show for our efforts.

Perhaps you can alleviate some of that let down if we change the goal, change the focus.  Yeah, we still want to do well, particularly after spending all that money on travel and hotel and whatnot, but perhaps if we looked at the race as part of the bigger picture we wouldn’t be so miserably bummed when it is all said and done.  I suggest to people in my groups that they make the training the goal.  Make the training the focus.  Try to make your training block as close to perfect as possible.  (Likely you won’t, because perfect doesn’t exist, at least in this context.  But your odds are greater that you’ll have a great training block.)  In your next marathon training block, make each day the most important day of your training.  That is to say, put as much focus into your 45 minute recovery run that you put into your 30K specific fartlek.  Pay attention to your diet over the 20 something weeks of the training in the same way that you do in the week leading up to the marathon.   Learn how to run a workout on feel, rather than letting your GPS control you.

It works.  It just does.  I don’t know why.  And what we’ve found is that you’re much more likely to have a great day on race day.  You’re more appreciative of the day.  And then picking yourself up off the floor for the eighth time isn’t so hard.