It was Day 2 of my trip (Dec 23 Sun). My plan was to go in the DHL
balloon so that I can get a good view of Singapore. When I reached the
MRT station, I suddenly got interested in randomly walking around.
I really wanted to see the place.
After more than an hour of walking around in the hot sun, I came
across a really huge building. I got curious and tried to figure out
the name – it was the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library.
It’s a library?! I just had to get in there, for the AC as well as to
explore the books collection. I thought it was a good idea since it
would be relaxing. After all, the point of a vacation is to do things
you wouldn’t do in daily life, as well as to have a relaxing or
invigorating fun time. At least, that’s my definition of a vacation.
I went in, saw many rows of shelves. I clearly avoided the row which
had some books with some strange titles like “Java & XML”,
I wonder what that’s all about. I picked up a few books from the other
rows and went and sat down at the benches. Lots of people were
studying, with music on, writing down notes in their laptops and
utilizing the free wifi.
I started reading a book titled something like “The Practice of
Philosophy – A Handbook for Beginners”. Unfortunately, within ten
minutes, I was sleepy. Either it was the exhaustion and lack of sleep
the previous night, or it was the subject. I went and sat on the
couches and started to doze off. I was encouraged by the fact that
there was some other Indian dude also sleeping.
After a while, I realized I was snoring, and there were other new
people around trying to read, so I went and washed my face. Then,
I went down to Level 1 to give a phone call to Abishek Nair (my
gracious host for the trip). He was laughing that I came all the way
to Singapore to sit in a library and read some books! He told me to
come over to his company VHQ Post (an advertising post-production i.e.
visual effects company) in an hour so that he can show me around.
After that, I stood near the wide glass and I look left and see the
DHL balloon right there! It was funny since I wasn’t actively looking
I went back inside the library, the books were still there. This time
I started reading a book more closer to my tastes – “The Runner’s
Handbook” by Bob Glover, and I went prepared with my iPod. Music
always gets me going. I started playing “Sutrum Vizhi” and started
reading. I started with the nutrition/fuel section because that’s
where most of my problems are. Then started taking down some notes:
- Hitting “the wall” refers to that point when you run short ofglycogen. This is an experience that every runner should try
- once. After you’re survived it, you will respect the need toprepare better for your next marathon.
- Learn the values of long training runs, tapering, eating plenty ofcarbos, and not starting too fast. Ignoring these factors allcontribute to hitting “the wall.”
- Most often associated with marathons. After an hour and a half orso of running, you begin to run low on glycogen. For most runnersthat will be 10-13 miles into a run. The average well-trainedrunner may store enough glycogen to last 15-20 miles, dependingupon such as factors as pace, body weight, fitness level, and howwell they loaded up on carbs going into the race.
- When you run low on glycogen, your body attempts to conserve whatremains by burning more fat for energy. But since fat is 15% lessefficient than carbs as an energy source, you are unable to holdyour pace and have to slow dramatically (even though fat releases9 cal/gm compared to 4 cal/gm for carbs and protein)
- Long training runs develop mechanisms for your body to utilize fatmore efficiently throughout your race, thus “sparing” some glycogenfor use later. Workouts at marathon pace and faster will also trainyour muscles to utilize carbs more efficiently at these paces.In addition, starting your race at a conservative pace willhelp conserve glycogen for later in the run. Tapering fora marathon combined with carb-loading is the key to surviving“the wall.”
- Back-of-the-pack runners benefit most from carb-loading.
- Dr. Costill notes: The difference between elite and averagemarathoners is that even if both started out with the sameamount of glycogen, the elite marathoner would spare it byburning a higher ratio of fat. Although more oxygen is requiredto burn fat, the highly developed oxygen transport system of theelite runner allows this. Furthermore, he moves moreeconomically, which means that he uses less oxygen to accomplishthe same task. The average runner, on the other hand, depleteshis glycogen supply sooner and doesn’t have as efficient anoxygen transport system to burn fat. That’s why hitting the wallis so devastating and why carbohydrate loading is more importantfor the average runner than for the elite runner.
- For shorter runs (< 90 min), glycogen stores don’t get depletedmuch and hence carb intake isn’t as critical.
The best part is that I realized that this problem is not unique to
me! It’s a documented scientific problem experienced by enough runners
to have a section dedicated to it in a runners’ book. Now I know what
the problem is! Next, I need to actually figure out how to train to
tackle this which the book didn’t explain satisfactorily.
I had lost track of time because of the awesome reader-friendly
environment and suddenly realized I was late. I then headed out to
meet Abishek. I got to see all the whizbang gizmos they use to create
all the special effects that you may or may not notice in the
advertisements you see. These guys have amazing talent and patience to
do the things they do. But that’s a story for another day.