In science, whenever someone has a hypothesis about something, they have to run a serious of tests based on observations and experiments in order to form a solid theory. In running, whenever I have a hypothesis about observed correlations between outside factors and my results, I test them multiple times to prove my own type of theory..for my own body. Still with me?
When it comes experimenting on humans, there isn’t much leeway. It’s unethical to a certain degree to do such a thing, but if the human being tested on is yourself I’d say you’re in the clear!
Test # 1: The Less is More Test - For this experiment I decided to take into account how my body felt after loading up on food the morning of a long run. My results were almost always the same. I felt slow, and sluggish. I then decided to put “carb-loading” to the test by eating a substantial amount of food the day before my run, and LESS food the day of my actual run. If I let science do the talking I can assume the food I consumed the previous day has been stored for readily available energy, allowing me to eat lighter before my actual run.
Results: For the last two weeks I’ve been testing this idea and it’s been proven correct for my personal running adventures. When I eat less the day of, I run lighter and don’t feel as sluggish.
Test # 2: The Coffee Test – What I’m about to say will surely shock you. I normally consume around 10-12 oz of coffee a day. That’s it. One cup, that I rarely finish all of. I know, I know…the coffee loving barista only drinks a small amount of coffee. What can I say I’m naturally energetic. Or am I? After consuming an extra cup or two of coffee before a fatigue free long run, I decided to drink an extra cup within 30 minutes of my next planned run.
Results: Every time I’ve had coffee within 30 minutes before my run I felt an elevated boost of energy. This has resulted in me ALWAYS wanting a cup before my runs, because feeling tired 2 miles into a 10 mile run is all kinds of problematic. More black crack please.
Test # 3: The “GETCHURMINDRIGHT” Test – For this experiment I decided to pump myself up by telling myself before a long run, “you GET to go run 9 miles,” instead of “you HAVE to go run 9 miles.” I did this for my last three long runs, and I also mentally prepared myself for the distance by taking it one mile at a time.
Results: Master your mind, master your life. Running (and a lot of other things in life) is mostly mental. Blocking out the negativity resulted in three extremely positive long runs. After practicing a positive mind space I noticed my runs were, dare I say COMPLETELY enjoyable. I wasn’t dying mid way to ten miles, I gracefully trotted into the final mile.
Test # 4: The Every Other Day Test – What I’m about to admit is not something I’m proud of, but it’s real life so roll with me here. This experiment was completely unplanned, and sprouted based on a semi uncontrollable situation. My training schedule had me running 4 times a week, with two cross train days, and one rest day. Up until a couple weeks ago I was running probably 5 times a week, and bouncing between two cross train days with a random rest here and there.
When I was asked to work a double shift at work a couple weeks ago, mentally I was distraught about having to skip my 5 mile run (I could have run in the dark if I wanted, but…I didn’t want to.) I am very schedule oriented and this messed with my mind. Do I know that if I skip a run I will be fine? Yes, but that doesn’t make it any easier. So I skipped my run, and guess what happened? I ran 8 miles the next day. If I’ve done my math correctly, that’s 3 more miles than planned. AND IT FELT AMAZING. So I tested the idea of running one day, and resting the next.
Results: For the last two weeks I’ve taken WAAaaAAyy more rest days than scheduled, and done a serious of run, rest, run, rest, with a few back to back runs or workouts thrown in the mix. This has resulted in AMAZING long runs with MORE energy, and a much happier mindset about accomplishing OTHER things outside of running…like eating.
Test # 5: The Slow is Pro Test – For this experiment I took it back to the basics of slower and more comfortable runs. I used to beat myself up if my run wasn’t at a certain speed, and recently the speed I felt I needed to achieve was anything under 10 minute miles. In my mind 10 minute miles were slow as molasses, and someone that’s been running for years shouldn’t be compared to a sticky sweetener. Well I say to hell with that hogwash because my slow running pace has given me some of my best overall runs…ever.
Results: When allowing my mind to go hand in hand with test number 3, I mentally accepted that my pace was going to slow down in order to allow me to continue running without wanting to stop. 8 miles at a 9:46 pace is fantastic, but so is 8 miles at a 10:00 pace. If I push I know I can obtain the quicker pace, but that usually results in me dreading my next run.
I would rather enjoy myself at a steady speed and be EXCITED to run again.
While none of these have been scientifically proven, they seem to work for me for the time being. Our bodies are constantly changing and adapting to new ways of doing things.
Other key factors include: 298325982 ounces of water the DAY BEFORE my run, similar to food. PLUS another 587583 ounces the day of. Water all day everyday. Good sleep, happy muscles, cooler weather, a good BM (truth stops for no one, see note below*) and a huge meal post run to refuel! Another benefit of not eating much before means plenty of room in my belly for AFTER.
*Runners trots – they are so real, and they hurt SO much. Let your imagination fill in the rest.
Q: Do you ever test certain factors to see how they play into your workouts?