Trail running and baby food

I’ve got the week of work this week so I’ve decided I’m basically going to chill out, do a bit of running, maybe do some gardening and some other odds and sods.

Tuesday I got up after a lay in and decided that I’d go for a run. My aborted run on Saturday had been weighing on my mind so I decided I’d nip over to Wickham and have another pop at a long run there. I knew from previous reading about the trail that it’s 10 miles from Wickham to East Meon so I could do a bit of exploring and get a long run in.

I’m not 100% sure yet but think it’s the SIS (Sport in Science) gels, that I’ve been using for a number of years, that is setting off my stomach issues. I decided I’d try something different, for this particular run my nutrition was going to be baby food, yes you heard that right, baby food. I’ve been doing a bit of reading and lots of Ultra runners are using squeezy pouches containing puréed fruits and rice. Ella’s kitchen was a name that popped up time after time.

After a quick recce to the supermarket and a couple of quid later I had in my possession a banana & apple pouch and a peach & banana pouch. Looking at the ingredients and nutritional information these looked perfect for the test and at 80p each well worth a punt.

So my kit for Tuesday’s little jaunt was;

  • Hoka’s, shorts, bosh vest, more mile socks, sunglasses
  • Salomon SLab hydration vest
  • 2 x 500ml soft bottles of water 
  • 1 x Ella’s Kitchen Peaches &Bananas 
  • 1 x Ella’s Kitchen Bananas & Apples
  • 2 x packs yoghurt covered raisins 
  • 1 x Nature Valley peanut & chocolate bar
  • First aid kit
  • Phone & headphones
  • Garmin Fenix 2

I parked up in the free carpark off Station Road in Wickham, locked up the car and headed off up the first, very familiar, leg of the trail. The weather was superb, hence choosing just a vest to run in, and the trail was as gorgeous as it had been during the Wickham Whistler on Saturday, bluebells everywhere, sun filtering through the trees, peaceful and serene.

I didn’t really have any distance in mind, plan was just to run for a bit until I felt it was right to turn around and head back. It’s quite odd, the way that the trail stretches out in front of you plays tricks on the eyes, it’s very difficult to tell if you’re pushing on uphill or downhill, or at least that’s how it seemed to me. The run profile shows the real story though.

A constant gradual rise all the way to the turn around point and back.

The route itself doesn’t get too monotonous, there are lots of minor course adjustments as the trail winds it way up to East Meon. The majority of the way you can steal views through the trees across fields and pastures, with bubbling brooks and water courses running along side. You almost can imagine what it would be like to be hurtling up the track on a steam train gazing out of the window. One thing I did note was the distinct lack of people, I must have passed maybe 10-15 people tops, but I guess it’s a normal working day and I’d normally be stuck in an office rather than out enjoying the sunshine and countryside.

Being an old train line there are many remnants of a different age to see, bridges to go over and under, rusted water tanks, abandoned platforms to pass through. The one pictured above was where I turned around just outside East Meon village after a bit over 9 miles of running. It was at this point I had a little walk and started into the food I had in my backpack. I eat the peanut and chocolate bar first, then cracked open a pouch of fruit purée and sucked down half the banana and apple one. Then took a bit of water to wash it all down.

I’d been keeping an eye on my water consumption and tried to work it so that I’d consume 500ml of water on the way out and have 500ml on the way back. I’d kept fairly well to that and had just about the right amount for the return journey.

I continued to make my way back towards the car 9 miles away at a slightly slower pace than the outward journey, I was definitely feeling it in my legs a bit from about 12 miles. I adopted a policy of stopping for a 1-2 minute walk after each mile for a drink and a bit of a graze on what I had left in my bag. I had expected to feel the start of stomach cramps at this point too but it never came, not even towards 18 miles, in fact not even after I’d finished. Not a grumble at all from my stomach. I did run out of water with about 5k left to go but I knew I had a big bottle of lemon squash in the car so a great incentive to keep going! I plodded on the last few miles and got back to the car hassle free.

So with my run completed and feeling fine, being the true athlete that I am I headed off to Portsdown hill to purchase a well earned 99 flake and a cold can of coke!

18.5 miles boshed in 3 hours 5 minutes. Happy with that and it looks like I’ve sorted out my stomach/nutrition issues too. Happy days.

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