Training for the Paris Marathon

It is fairly obvious that you need fuelling if you are going to do any serious running. It is fairly obvious because you are going to have to do a bit of fuelling for anything you do in life.

For most distances, pre race fuelling is enough. A bowl of pasta the night before or a hearty breakfast, consisting largely of porridge or other gruel like slop, will mostly sort out a 5 or 10k. Runners are not generally encouraged to partake in Haut Cuisine.

Beyond 10k, you will have to consider taking on some usable energy. Otherwise you are going to hit the proverbial WALL. This should be avoided, if at all possible.

It helps in life to have a scientific understanding of the jargon that is banded about in any walk of life, if you are to avoid being treated like a mushroom^.

So, The WALL?

The WALL is when your body has burnt off all the available blood sugar and starts trying to remember just how it converts all this fat you have been squirreling away for God knowa how many years, into available energy. Your body gets confused because it hasn't done it for so long it no longer knows how to do it.

It is a bit like when you suddenly have to solve a quadratic equation. But realise that you haven’t even seen such a thing since you had to cram the concept into your brain cell for ‘O’ Levels, which was so long ago that they have even changed the name of them to GCSEs and the only thing you can now hope to achieve in the area of quadratic equations, is to spell it. And then only with the help of the spell check on your laptop.

It is then that all your blood decides to emigrate down to your feet as a protest against you putting the whole ‘being alive’ thing in jeopardy, for no better reason than to gain a lump of cheap bling and a goodie bag with a bottle of water and a banana in it.

The practical upshot of all this is, just as you announce, to anyone actually taking any interest in your self inflicted plight, "all I need is a burger and a pint, and I’ll be as right as rain," you flop over in the recovery area, giving the first aid lot something to panic about at last and your friends something to rib you about for the rest of your running career and beyond.

That, in a nutshell, is all you need to know about the WALL.

Paris Marathon 2019

 Guy will be running the Paris Marathon 2019 to raise funds for Hothouse Theatre.

All 26.2 miles of it! Paris. 14th April 2019. A day that will live in infamy.

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When it comes to a marathon, this whole fuelling thing takes on a different level of importance.

At the pace I intend to run the Paris Marathon on 14th April, it is going to take me a minimum of 5 1/2 hours. 5 1/2 hours of anything in life, with the exception of sleeping and open heart surgery, is going to require serious fuelling.

Think about it, how long can you survive at work before a part of your brain starts agitating for the next coffee break with maybe a few of those rather nice biscuits that Deborah brought in for her birthday, that you accidentally put in the wrong cupboard, so no one else can get their greedy mitts on them.

Admittedly, at work this incessant need to graze is more to do with the noble art of procrastination than fuelling. It is also the method of procrastinating that was, due to it’s efficiency, ubiquitous nature and the, oft overlooked but inevitable, consequences, the reason to take up running in the first place.

Coffee breaks every hour are not going to work as a fuelling system whilst crawling around the streets of Paris, if only because of all the loose change you will have to take with you for the tips for all those Parisian waiters lingering with feigned disinterest until tip is offered.

My traditional lunch of pasta salad is also unlikely to work, as fuelling. Partly due to the logistics of getting it to the right feeding station in tact. And party due to me not knowing the French for most of the ingredients. Slovenly pronunciation turns celery into celeriac. Apple is a gnats testicle from pomme de terre. As for gherkin or pickled onion or beetroot. Before you know it you have opened a Pandora’s Box that could lead cuisine down a blind alley that would shake the very fabric of French society.

But there is also the general effect of jiggling a full stomach up and down to be considered. This of course goes for other feeding options more acceptable to the French palate. Coq au vin, beef bourguignon, confit de canard. All these pinnacles of culinary achievements are rarely used as running food because of the unwanted extra colour it would add to the cobbled streets of la Ville Lumière*.

Besides, a full nosh up, half way through a marathon, is likely to require a conveniently placed hammock to help generate enthusiasm for the second half. Enthusiasm that is likely to do little more than take itself off to the nearest bar for a glass or so of red, where it will watch the stragglers crawl home, before loosing itself on an obsessive mission to translate every tale of Ernest Hemingway, Picasso and van Gogh being thrown out of every bar for an indiscretion involving Madam Fifi and both of her younger sisters.

No. Marathon fuelling is a little more specialised that all that. Simply making up a pack of sarnies, a flask of coffee and a banana is not going to cut the mustard, butter any parsnips or even crush a great deal of grapes, in that department.

It has to be a little more scientific than that.

Basically, it is about getting sugar into your system. Which is a touch ironic, since as part of your general marathon training plan you have cut out everything with sugar in it, in the apparently vain hope of loosing lots of weight before the big day, for the simple reason, it hurts more to run a long way when you are fat.

So the fuelling issue potentially puts some things back on the menu, at least to get you through your training runs.

Wine gums! Full of sugar and my favourites! On the face of it, the perfect answer to the problem. Other sweets could be included. Humbugs. Blackcurrant and liquorice. Pick and Mix!! Now you are talking!!!

Chewy sugar! A great way to take your mind off the mileage whilst putting in all the lost sugar you are ever going to need. And some.

Don’t you just love science.

And on that note. A bit of basic Biology.

In humans the esophagus – the tube that carries the food down to the stomach – and the pharynx – the one that carries the air into the lungs - are surprisingly close together. It is reckoned this helps us talk. It was therefore a major evolutionary development, without which we would probably not have made it up the last rung of the evolutionary ladder. Becoming a dead end on the tree of life somewhere in the vicinity of the Rift Valley.

However, it does cause a few potential problems. Darwin believed that every time we swallow we run the risk of drowning. Not on the face of it something that increases the likelihood of the human race making it up the next rung of the evolutionary ladder. But there are several other factors, that are a direct result of us developing the ability to speak in the first place, that will probably also be responsible for that.

But take the general swallowing problem that the human race has, stick said human in a long race (another thing that marks us out from the beasts) and then get them to start chewing sweet gloopy things and the cobbles of Paris get another coating of Brit vom, quite literally paving the way to a serious international incident.

And there, if you ever wondered, you have the answer to the question, ‘Why don’t Bassets, makers of the finest wine gums, have stalls at running events to market their latest confectionary, wine gums with added caffeine, as the very last word in running fuelling aids?’

OK. How about chocolate. By far the classiest sugar delivery system.

For the Love of George

 An adaptation of the monologue that was a critical success at the Edinburgh Festival 2000. It follows the experience of a woman trapped in violent marriage and her relationship with George and biology.

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It is at this point that your brain cell, the one that is, even as you read, working out how to slip a snack break in, sits up and says, in a soft but positively affirming voice, ‘Eureka!’

Now, if you are going to France to run a marathon and you are going to use chocolate as fuel, you can forget all that rubbish British stuff, that technically isn’t actually chocolate anyway. This is going to take decent, posh, for special occasions only, European chocolate. Maybe even Swiss chocolate.

Something a little more in keeping with the occasion.

Lindt Carmel and Sea Salt.

A square every 3 miles.

You could stop. Take a breath. Take in the view. Watch the other runners, plodding passed, lost in their own personal fuelling dilemmas. The crowd with their stereotypical Gaelic shrugs, wondering when the Tour de France is due to come through. Then you bite into the sharp, crisp, chocolate. The image dissolves, with the chocolate in your mouth, to an image of snow covered Alpine peaks. A gender non specific Swiss person, dressed in Lederhosen comes running towards you in slow motion, through an Alpine meadow. And a distant cow is heard yodelling across the valley.

You can see the advert.

But would 1 square every 3 miles actually give you enough fuel?

OK 2 squares every 3 miles.

Maybe 3 squares.

How many bars of Lindt do you think you will be able to smuggle into post Brexit Europe?

Hang on, don’t they actually make Lindt Swiss Chocolate in France?

In that case, maybe 5 squares of Lindt for every 3 miles.

Don’t you just love this running lark.

*A Nickname for Paris. Literally, ‘The Town of Lights.’ A reference to the fact that Paris was the first city to have electric street lighting and not to the idea that Paris is a place to gain enlightenment. Although if you know the right bars, restaurants or back streets of ill repute, Paris might turn out to be that too.

^ Mushrooms are something of a mystery. They are clearly not animals. But neither are they plants. They spend most of their life cycle under grounds consisting of micro thin fibres that you generally can’t see, producing fruiting bodies once a year, that are strong enough to go through concrete but dissolve into mush in days. They are usually inedible, though not harmful, occasionally delicious fried with butter, some are a sure fire way to a good time and every now and then, they are deadly.

One of the mysteries that have been solved around the humble mushroom, is how you grow them.

You keep them in the dark and feed them bullshit. This is what is meant by 'being treated like a mushroom.'

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Oh My Nottz is a HotHouse Theatre production. Co. No. 6505843 Charity No. 1154523. Tel 07963020259 email guy@hothousetheatre.com website www.hothousetheatre.com
The views expressed in Oh My Nottz are not necessarily those held by HotHouse Theatre.