Yesterday I went for my last long practice run before the B.A.A. Half Marathon. It was an entirely different experience from the first practice run a week before then. The difference in that experience translated into a material improvement in my pace. I went from an 8’34” pace feeling miserable to an 8’04” pace ending feeling comfortable. I learned an important lesson: fuel matters.
Before the first practice run I consumed waffles which did not at all sit well in my stomach. I ran the whole run feeling as if I wanted to vomit. I was in pain and it weighed me down. The second practice run I scrambled some eggs, ate some nuts, and had a Clif gel before and then during the run. My stomach was fine. I think the magnesium in the nuts aided in warding off cramping. It was an entirely different and enjoyable experience.
Fuel matters off the race course as well. As I have scaled back my caffeine consumption I learned how different my energy level can be throughout the day. My mornings are highly productive. Late afternoon is low energy so I try to sequence my work to match it. I like to dig into big programming problems of writing tasks during my morning hours and then reserve meetings and testing for afternoons. The less energy I feel the more important it is to have things clearly enumerated in our issue tracker, so if things are not enumerated in there then I will spend time re-syncing it. Sticking with activities that align with my mental state makes me more effective.