June 6, 2010

Hills of Afton

I've been getting out to Afton State Park for some hill training about once per week for the last month. Hoo boy, am I ever out of shape! Unfortunately, there's only one way to fix that ;)

As many of the Afton regulars know, two of our favorite trails are closed this year: Nigel's Hill and Horse Shit Hill (the trail leading up to Africa Loop on the 25K race course). I never knew the name of that hill, and I'm not sure it's official, but Tom & Nancy told me about it this morning and it fits - so Horse Shit Hill it is from now on. This means that the Afton race will have a slightly tweaked course this year - I'm sure we'll be hearing about the official changes on the brand spankin' new Afton Trail Run blog. I ran what I figured would be the new route: up to Africa from the "down" direction, then instead of Nigel's Hill I took the trail at the far north end of the park, which has a stunning view of the St. Croix River valley. Rumor has it that a little loop later in the course will be dropped - I think this new course may actually turn out even better than the regular course!

I've also been experimenting a bit with electrolytes/nutrition/sports drinks. In the past, I've had problems with muscle cramping and never could find a truly reliable strategy. I had been taking one S-cap per hour which sometimes seemed to work and sometimes didn't. I was starting to think that perhaps it wasn't really sodium depletion, but perhaps a magnesium deficiency, so I've been taking 200 mg of magnesium glycinate every day for the last few months. So far, no cramping problems, even when only drinking plain water and not taking any S-caps or any type of electrolytes at all during my runs (which have so far only lasted a few hours). Been sleeping better too!

Today I tried a newish supplement called Vespa, which supposedly encourages your body to rely more on fat metabolism instead of carbs, therefore sparing glycogen and decreasing lactic acid buildup. I drank only water so I could eliminate carbs from the equation to test the "bonk" factor. I have to say, I felt like I was running on fumes trudging up the last hill at Afton today (I only went about 11 miles) - can't really say I'm sold on Vespa, though I've only tried it once. I'll probably stick with my prior strategy of sports drinks and gels for the time being.

Hope you are all enjoying the trails!


Helen said...

That's as good as any name I've heard for that hill :)

I've tried Vespa recently too - but not really tested it properly. I do like the taste but for the price of it I should make sure it's actually working for me!!

Beautiful day to be out there.

Dale Humphrey said...

Kel, I've been using VESPA now for my last 4 100 milers and with each event I've had better success. I'm able to complete races now with no stomach issues, steady energy, better focus and reduced muscle soreness afterward. I alot of it for me has to do with finging a diet that complements the VESPA. I have several friends that have had results similar to mine but all have changed their fueling strategies for training and racing. We compare notes and are learning as we go. You may want to give the number on the VESPA website a call. That's how I found the info I needed. Happy trails!

Dale Humphrey
Ely, MN

Mark Thompson said...

Great tip about the magnesium deficiency. I'll look into this more. -Mark

Kel said...

Dale, thanks for the info about the Vespa. I only tried it one time and still have another packet - I'll have to check into it further :)