Bananas good, cereal bad – or how I learned I’m completely crazy

I had a bad start to parkrun this morning. Following an article I read on fuelling before a run, I’ve tried eating a banana beforehand – that went fairly well – so this morning I tried with a very small bowl of cereal.

Big mistake.

I’d forgotten how my body occasionally plays nasty tricks on me if I take in too much fluid in the mornings (and I don’t mean excessive amounts either!). Despite visiting the conveniences right before we went down to the start, as we set off I realised I needed them again in a hurry. Luckily the route we were taking meant that I didn’t actually need to run back to them – it was just a large sidestep, with a steep slope up off the course and then another steep slope down again afterwards.

By the time I was heading back down the slope, the pack was disappearing in the distance. I briefly considered giving up, but then I decided that I could manage part of the run, anyway. The route is 2k along the seafront, round a big 1k loop that’s very muddy for part of it and concrete path but likely to be slightly under water for the rest, and then back along the seafront again. I figured that I could probably get to the loop by the time everyone was finishing it, and could run back with them – I’d do 4k instead of 5, but at least I’ll have got some exercise.

By the time I reached the start of the loop I’d had lots of encouragement from the front runners who were already on their way back, and I could see the last few not too far ahead of me – a couple of minutes, maybe, but still definitely in sight.

I found I hated the idea of missing out the muddy/wet part of the course, where I can usually gain time because some others gingerly pick their way through the easiest bits while I just plough through, so I gamely entered the loop. At this point I decided I was thoroughly crazy when the thought crossed my mind about how fun it would be to slip in the mud and return completely caked!

Loop completed, there was just the run back to do. I could see the next few runners not too far ahead, and over the next section I did actually manage to gain on them, finishing at the back but by no more than a minute or so of others – and I’d run up that steep slope twice, not once!

So although my time was a horrendous 40 mins 29 seconds, that did include a detour, and even though I fully expected to finish well behind I kept going. I’m very concerned at the fact that I was disappointed to finish only slightly damp and muddy, and not to have been thoroughly soaked and caked in mud. I do think I’m completely crazy.

And just for the record, that first k with the detour was only half a minute slower than the k round the loop with all the mud and water – although it is usually around two mins faster, being right at the start.

So I’ve learned not to have cereal or any other extra fluids before a run, and I’ve learned that starting late is not necessarily a disaster. And I’ve learned that I apparently have some secret wish to complete an assault course where I get soaked and muddy.



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  1. I’m gradually learning, through trail and error, what my body can tolerate before running. If running less than one hour I run on empty for a morning run. No tea, only two glasses of water. If going for just over an hour, I have a glass of smoothie.

    When I’ve done 10K and longer races, which have started mid- to late-morning and/or involved an early start to drive to an venue (and therefore at least a couple of hours before running) I chance a small breakfast of banana and toast, or one weetabix with minimum soya milk. I’m restricting my intake of dairy products to help prevent the runner’s trots!

    • Sounds very sensible. My greatest fear with longer runs is getting caught short! I usually start the morning with a coffee, then nothing else until after the run, but I read an article saying better to eat something. Think I’ll stick to bananas or nothing!


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