Went for a run, came back alive!

All dressed for (after) a night run

I joined Fitstuff running group for their weekly run last night.

Free run, good folks, interesting session, and a free tee as a bonus. Yep, I enjoyed it :)

I ran down to the shop – just over 2 miles, almost all downhill. Joined Keith’s group for a ‘tempo’ run. It wasn’t a tempo run.

We ran a session of something called Paarlauf (German for pair runs). Runners are paired with an opposite paced runner – fastest with slowest, and so on. Then we run relay laps around a football field. Opposite pace pairings ensure that the pairings are broadly competitive across the field. Competitive (pair) pace, combined with psychological effect of not letting your partner down means everyone pushes, no one slacks.

It was a fun session. I was near the top of third quartile, and was paired with Simon, who was in middle of second quartile. Despite starting near the end of the queue, we were leading at end of the 3rd set. Leading!!!

Sadly, my partner got a stitch in his hamstring on the fourth set, so we didn’t stay there long. Nevertheless, he continued, and ran all 10 sets. And we did not finish last. Win!

After the session, we jogged back to the shop.

There I picked up my free tee, checked in on Simon, and thanked Keith. Also had a quick chat with some of the Phoenix guys who’d gone with the other group – Mark, Phil, and others.

All this may have taken about 10 mins.

And then started the jog back home…

The original plan had been to jog down to the shop (~3.5K), run the tempo run with the club (5-8K), and then run a very easy-paced, slightly longer job back up the hill to home (4-5K).

The first bit went a bit faster than planned. (I left late :/)
The second part was faster, but shorter than planned. (paarlauf, instead of tempo)
The last part soon turned the night into a disaster.

I started from the shop well. A bit thirsty, and starting to cool down a bit, but nothing bad otherwise.

Ran down to the river, across the parking lot, across the rail bridge, and was heading up the steep bit of the hill.

The first warning came when I started getting low HR alerts on the watch1. I may have been slow, but I was still running uphill, on a steep-ish slope. The HR should have been heading to mid zone 3. Instead it was heading to mid zone 1. And dropping.

I ignored it thinking something was wrong with the HR strap, and continued. About 200m later, halfway between the Scillonian road and the Agraria road, I felt the first misstep. I felt a pair of steps go sideways, instead of straight. Legs were also suddenly feeling very empty.

Steady running uphill, HR falling
HR falling while jogging up the hill!

I was running next to a busy-ish road – the same one where Dudley gave me a scare in the morning. To stay safe, I decided to walk rest of the way home. To stay warm, I put on the new t-shirt – a third layer of running tees.

The walk was scary. At various times I felt my legs almost give in under me. I could also notice wayward steps at times, and a delay before the head registered them and corrected me.

I soon left the big road, and took a smaller, though slightly longer, path on quiet roads through the village. It was safer. My legs were still a bit dodgy. And I was starting to feel cold – the tee shirts (and socks) were moist from the sweat from the hard running session. The sweat was now starting to cool down in sub 5°C temperature, and I seemed to be fast losing body heat.

There were a few dark times on that walk. Times when I wasn’t sure I was heading in the correct direction or, when I was, whether I could make it home2. And times when my legs felt like melting under me. It was all head and will that got me home. Rest of the body didn’t have much left to help out with.

At least I got home, safely.

Drank 2 large glasses of water, one with ORS. Ate a couple of teaspoons of peanut butter, and a third of a high5 energy bar.

Then went for a hot shower3 – 2 mins to soap, 10 mins to soak. Didn’t even have enough energy to stand in there, so just sat down under the shower, letting it thaw me out.

Out of the shower – wore my thermal leggings (first time since the Kilimanjaro trip in 2011), woollen socks, a sweater, wrapped a blanket, and placed a warm body on my lap (Chewie :D).

I even slept with all those woollens on, inside the duvet!

What went wrong?

I’m not sure, but here’s a list of potential culprits:

  1. Dehydrated – I was quite thirsty after the session, and really wanted a drink before starting on the run home. I didn’t have one.
  2. Out of energy – I’ve been on a low carb diet, and been running mostly in fat burning zones (maffetone method). I guess the paarlauf session emptied out my carb reserves, and I just bonked while running uphill
  3. Cool down – I may have waited too long at the shop after the run, which meant I was already a bit cold by the time I restarted running. The wind by the river may have cooled the sweat faster than the running warmed the body.
  4. All of the above.

What do I do?

For the next run, I’ll wear R’s run belt to the shop. It has space for 2 small water bottles, energy bars/gels, and phone. I can leave the belt at the shop when we go for the group run, and pick it up afterwards. I’ll have water for hydration after the run, a gel in case I’m feeling empty, and a phone to call for help in case I’m about to crash (again).

  1. The watch was in Maffetone running mode where it shows an alert if my HR goes outside zone 2 (136-151 bpm), in either direction.
    I do most of my running, outside of races, Park run, and targeted training sessions happens in the Maff mode. 
  2. I couldn’t call for help because I don’t take my phone on most runs. Hadn’t taken it for this one either. Won’t repeat this mistake next week. 
  3. Though not before I’d taken the selfie above – proof of life ;) 

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