Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Night Run Experiment

Took a snapshot from night run on Friday.

Being three weeks out from Collegiate Peaks, I wanted to get in one last long run over the weekend.  The problem was that I didn't have the time.  We were busy both Saturday & Sunday, so I opted for a night run on our local trails.

I wasn't thrilled about it, but decided to make it fun with some simple goals.  

1.  Make it a timed run and keep the clock running until it hit five hours.  Don't worry at all about pace or distance.

2.  Fuel exclusively with solid food.

3.  Try one of those 5 hour energy shots to see what happens.  But avoid caffeine during the run so I could go to sleep when it was over

I popped the grape flavored 5 hour energy down the hatch about a minute before leaving the house at 8:15 p.m.  I can't say I felt anything, but I did remain fairly alert for most of the run.

Here's what I brought for fuel:  boiled and salted potatoes, white chocolate & macadamia nut cookies, oatmeal frosted cookies, and some animal crackers.  I waited about an hour until I began eating since I had just polished off dinner two hours before I started.  The plan was potatoes on the hour and cookies on the half hour.  

While I'm glad I did it, I probably won't be employing this strategy in a race.  Fuel-wise it all kept me going just fine.  At about hours 3.5-4, I felt like all that food was inching its way back up my throat and settling just at the base.  My experiment had to stop.  I brought two "emergency" gels in my pack and took those during the final hour and a half.

Overall, I had a good run of 30 miles finishing at 1:05 a.m.  I went at an easy pace, spooked a bunch of deer and elk, listened to 22 chapters of a book on one of those "playaway" devices, and finished with some mellow tunes.

My favorite aspect of this run was the moonlight.  It was two nights before a full moon, so there was enough moonlight to afford keeping the flashlight off for 75% of the run.  It is not often I get to run trails in the dark without a light.  It takes the peacefulness of the experience to a whole new level.


  1. Got to find the time where you can get it. Interesting fueling experiment....boiled potatoes. My mouth is watering (as in I'm about to puke) just thinking about eating such a delicacy four hours into a night run.

  2. Love the pic!

    The #1 goal on your list is one of my favorite things about heading out at night. Just go out and get some time in on the trails.

  3. See you at CP. I have yet to go the boiled potatoes, real food route but I have never been over 9, 10 hours. I guess I do some real food pre, and then do the bars and gels thing through the event. Interesting experiment no doubt, but I am probably more in Jim P's camp on this one.

  4. I know if I didn't stop with the potatos, puking it would have been!

    I tried to find food items that had around a hundred calories each so I could stick to 300 calories/hour. Each egg-shaped potato was about 120 calories and a whole bunch of carbs. At first they tasted pretty good. That surely changed as the night wore on. I'll definitely stick with the liquid/gel diet going forward. I've read the science behind fueling with solids, and my experiment proved it correct. There is no way I could handle solids after a few hours of running. Next up, I'm going to give Hammer Perpetuem a try.

    Chris - I got over to Roxborough SP on Sunday afternoon. I've decided the sweetest singletrack on the front range (that I've run)is there. It can't get much more "single" than it does in some spots as I felt like I was running on a balance beam.

  5. How were you carrying the potatoes? I'm interested in fueling with real food for longer runs. At a certain point I have no interest in gel/liquid and need something real.

  6. I had three zip lock bags that I carried in my hydration pack. Two bags in a front pocket and one in the back big pocket. Never got to the third bag.

    What I don't know from my experiment is if the cookies were what started making me feel bad or the potatoes...or both. The salted potatoes were bland, which may not be a bad thing if you don't want any strong tastes/flavors later in a run.

    I'd be interested in trying it again (w/o the cookies), but adding gels into the mix. I think a hybrid approach might work well.

    Also, I skinned the potatoes first. I figured the skins probably wouldn't taste all that great.

  7. RxSP is truly a gem. I basically have a huge dumb grin on my mug every time I run there. Good stuff.

    The sound of those potatoes would normally make me gag, but they can be awesome once in a while. I ran a 50M out in Indiana last summer. There was an unmanned aid station on the back side of the loop with paper cups full of skinned/diced/salted boiled potatoes. There was a complete downpour during the first part of the race and all the cups filled with water. After about the 3rd pass, there was no more water in the cups and my salt tabs had turned to mush due to the humidity so I thought - what the hell. BEST THING EVER. The water had soaked into the spuds carrying the salt with it. I tossed back 3-4 cups right then and there. Rainwater-salt infused boiled spuds. Mmmmm.

  8. The potato soup they served at the finish of the Red Hot 55k was delicious. I can never eat right after a race and I downed a bowl of that within five minutes of finishing. I'm guessing your advice for "once in a while" is the best way to approach the spuds.