How Drinking Water Almost Killed Me – Part 2 of 5 – Preparing for the Marathon

This is the second part of the series. The previous one described my running background up to the 30K run to Montserrat in November 2011.

After completing that 30K uphill run, completing the famous marathon run certainly seemed feasible. It required careful training. I also preferred doing it in one of my home towns such as Barcelona or Tel Aviv, rather than doing it on unfamiliar ground.

I had a break from running during the beginning of January 2012 due to a visit in Israel, and I began considering the Barcelona marathon upon returning towards the end of January.

The race was planned for March 25th. At first I didn’t register, as I wanted to be certain I’m up for it. This cost me more money when I eventually registered, but I could afford it. So, I began training in the city and around.

Besos River - Barcelona
Besos River – Barcelona city limits


A friend helped me find a good plan, and I began running at least 3 times per week. This included several short and fast training sessions, medium length and medium speed runs and most importantly lengthy runs on weekends.

The long runs consisted of doing a half marathon, followed by a 32 kilometer (20 mile) training session on a gravel road in “Carretera de les Aigues” above the city. This run left my knees aching and a bit worried I’m not up for the big run.

During these long runs, I became aware of the power of Powerade (or Gatorade if you wish). The isotinc drinks presumably has the right balance of water, sugar and salt, and I felt that they gave me a big boost along the runs.

A week later saw another half marathon race in which I didn’t encounter any pain and in which I set a personal best of 1:44:42. It certainly motivated me.

The longest run of a bit more than 32K was a bit hard, but I completed it successfully. This was 3 weeks before the big run, and I felt comfortable enough to register for the marathon.

The plan was to run 24K a week later, but it turned into 30K, which was already in warmer weather and more tiring, but after having all this capacity behind me, adding a bit more seemed within reach. It was.

According to the plan, the last weekend before the big day was an easy 15K run in order to “taper down”. That’s exactly what happened.

Montjuic as seen from the outskirts of Barceloneta
Montjuic as seen from the outskirts of Barceloneta

I had my last short training session 5 days before the race. Then I started a coffee and alcohol diet: abstaining from coffee was done in order to clean my body towards the race and then have a nice cup of coffee on the morning of the big race. This way, the fat burning that caffeine offers would be more effective.

Abstaining from alcohol just helps clean up from a tiring factor before a significant physical effort. I also woke up early and got up early, getting myself ready for waking up early for the race, especially as it was planned for the day that DST came into effect.

The next chapter will be published tomorrow and includes the race itself and the aftermath (what I remember).

All the chapters:

  1. Running Background
  2. Preparing for the Marathon
  3. Race Day – From Euphoria to ER
  4. Losing it and Getting Back
  5. Thanks and Conclusions

How Drinking Water Almost Killed Me – Part 1 of 5 – Running Background

Everything in life should be done within normal ranges. Apparently also the consumption of water has its limits. I lost my conscience many hours after my first marathon run because of over-hydration and I live to tell the story.

Here is the full story divided into 5 chapters that will be published on a daily basis. They include my background in running, preparations for the marathon, race day, the collapse, a day and half that I don’t remember, the long hospitalization, the ongoing recovery and a few conclusions.

Small note: I’ve neglected this personal blog in the past year or more. This story certainly brings pumps life into the blog. Hopefully I’ll write more. Life in Barcelona supplies quite a few stories (though much less dramatic). I also plan on writing a full Hebrew version, and perhaps a short Spanish one.

Running Background

My love for running began way back in the 90s, when I was in high school. I used to go to the gym and/or run throughout my adult life. About 5 years ago, I participated for the first time in an official race, a 5K night run in Tel Aviv.

The excitement of racing got me to take things a bit more seriously and I began running more often, quickly moving to 10K runs. At some point I picked up a serious training program on the web, that involved running 6 times a week. The local gym in Tel Aviv was too close, and most of the runs were performed there – apart from the longest ~17K runs.


When I moved to Barcelona in March 2011, running on the promenade was a great way to discover the city and see the wide variety of people roaming the streets, but I stuck with short and sporadic runs.

The big change was in August, when I accidentally discovered Meetup, and the Barcelona and the Barcelona Casual Road Runners group. This great collection of people runs 10K twice a week, in a very casual and pleasant atmosphere. Everybody from the organizer to the latest newcomer are great and positive people.

Cursa de la Merce 2011 - Image Credit: Alex

My first official 10K run in the city was a popular race named Cursa de la Mercé. Given the race is so crowded, we took it with a very casual atmosphere indeed: with costumes of sheep. Great fun!

Montserrat on Foot

A bigger challenge came in the middle of November: a run called Pujada a Montserrat: a 30K run from the suburban town of Terrassa to the historical and touristic site of Montserrat. It consisted of around 21 kilometers of a flat and downhill stride, and then around 9 kilometers of a running along the twisted road leading to the site.

This was the longest distance I ever ran until that point, and the last part was a tough uphill struggle. I combined running and walking in the final part, but I was very excited to reach the finish line.

I ate a few energy bars I brought from home and some water along the way. At the end, there was a nice table full of snacks and drinks. I remember the organizer of the running group encouraging me to grab some peanuts, mentioning it’s important for my electrolytes. I ate the peanuts as well as anything I could put my hands on, as I was very hungry and thirsty.

I’m mentioned this seemingly subtle note just to show I had awareness to the importance of salt and electrolytes, though neglecting it at the critical moment.

I felt tired after the run, like every long run. Also my muscles ached, but that’s normal. All in all, I was feeling good, not suffering any knee or back pain and very happy to have competed this hard run along the beautiful landscape.

Pujada a Montserrat
Pujada a Montserrat - Photo credit: Ingmar

The next chapter will be published tomorrow and details the preparations for the race.

All the chapters:

  1. Running Background
  2. Preparing for the Marathon
  3. Race Day – From Euphoria to ER
  4. Losing it and Getting Back
  5. Thanks and Conclusions


One of the reasons that I’m not updating this blog frequently is that I’m busy running. Where? Nowhere. Just shaping up. I now run 6 times a week!

Running has been a hobby of mine for quite some time. I used to run during high school which was quite some time ago, and been on and off the wagon for quite some time. In the past few years I’ve also participated in a few 5K and 10K races, training for each one with an arbitrary set of runs.

Well, I began taking it seriously. I just googled “10K run training” (or something similar, and started using the program. While this doesn’t sound like a serious method of finding a program, the program is very serious.

It consists of long runs, that enabled me to discover new areas in my city’s parks, and short paced runs, to improve my speed.

The results are great: I sleep better, I have a healthier appetite, and I’m improving my results. There’s a marathon in Tel Aviv at the end of March. I’m not aiming for that… Just the 10K race. My personal best at such races was 51:05. I’m confident that I’ll cross the finish line in less than 50 minutes.

I’d like to thank Gavin Doyle for his excellent program and his very useful site Time To Run.

Uphill Struggle

I attend lots of demonstrations in various issues, about two three every month. Although it’s fun meeting the (same) friends at these protests, I feel that we aren’t changing almost anything.

My friends say that going to demonstrations has become a hobby of mine. It’s my preferred pass time Cheap Airblown Inflatable Adult Castle on Saturday evenings, when most of these protests take place.

During this summer, I’ve been to a nice bunch of demonstrations: against the biometric law, against hatred of homosexuals, and the recurring theme was a struggle against the deportation of foreign workers and their children from Israel.

Most of these protests draw a crowd of no more than 300 people. When I show up and draw a few friends to these events, I feel that I make a difference in the number of attendants.

But do I really make a difference? Probably not. A small group of people who care can do little to change. Most Israelis are tired of hard struggles, and prefer news as entertainment.

TV “reality” stars mean more than having the fifth of the population under the poverty line. “Sensational” stories like the Dudu Topaz story, or the Swedish scandal take over the media for many days. These stories have nothing do with our lives, nothing relevant to other people living here, which have real problems.

I guess I should do the same – concentrate solely on my personal life, which is not that shabby. As a Jew of European descent, a man, and a heterosexual, I belong to Israel’s elite. My life is easier “by design”.

Turning a blind eye to what’s going looks like the right choice.