Today was my longest training run this time around as I prepare for the Sugarloaf Marathon this coming May. Every run gives me time away from the daily grind and some time to think, especially the long runs. Here are 9 things I learned on my 16 miler.
1. A running buddy (or two in today’s case!) is key for my long runs. There is accountability to show up, be ready to go, and complete the miles knowing that someone else is counting on me. When the run gets tough, either mentally or physically, my partner(s) are there with me and help me to keep moving forward. There were times when I was lagging behind and times when I was pushing ahead, but in the end, we finished together as a team.
2. Layers are a must. I have struggled this winter to find the right combination of clothing for my lower half on these cold, windy days. Up until today, I really had thrown in the towel and accepted that the gear I have for my lower half just isn’t warm enough. I just had come to expect that my legs and butt would be frozen at some point along the way. For some reason when I got ready this morning, I had had enough! I decided to add an extra layer and wore not only one base layer with fleece lining, but another compression base layer, underneath my favorite running tights. Yes, THREE layers! I know it doesn’t sound comfortable or even right, but it was PERFECTION! For once, thanks be to God, my legs and butt did not go numb!
3. I need a water belt that fits. I purchased a new water belt at the expo before the Rock N’ Roll Savannah Marathon this past November. I LOVE my Fitletic Hydration Belt, but it’s way too big. In November, I was 7 months postpartum and the L/XL size was perfect. I wore it for the entire marathon and it did not move from my waist, it was easy to access my water, and it fit all my fuel plus my phone comfortably. After today’s run though, I’ve realized I need to get the size S/M. I’ve finally lost the baby weight with all this training which equated to me constantly pulling, spinning, and tightening my belt for 16 miles today. Not fun!
4. I think about food when I am running long…ALOT! On today’s run, I thought about food a minimum of 10 times. We passed several coffee shops and I dreamed of hot coffee. We passed two cupcake shops and of course, I wanted a cupcake! We ran past Chez Vachon…poutine anyone? I thought about my grocery list, chocolate milk, Nuun in my water, pizza for dinner. At one point, I am pretty sure I said, “I can’t wait to get to my car and crush all the snacks I brought for after this run!” RUNCHIES!
5. I confirmed my belief in “signs” along the way. Part of me was wishing I was running in my own town this morning because I had a route in mind that doesn’t have much traffic, has some good hills but not too many, and is really pretty with a good chance of seeing some wildlife along the way. But during today’s run, I realized I was in the right place. There were literally signs the entire way. We ran past Heather Street, Sweeney Avenue, Walnut Hill Avenue (there is a Walnut Hill in my town), and Amherst Street. I don’t usually even notice street signs, so I thought this was pretty cool.
6. Me and hills = love-hate relationship. Isn’t this true for every runner? Of our 16 miles, we probably ran about 5-6 miles of hills, the last two of which I was cursing the entire way. There were times that I was strong the entire way up, and times where I could feel my legs tiring mid-way. The bottom line though was that at the top of every hill, I recovered quickly and kept moving. Even thought I was tired at some points, I felt stronger having conquered each hill.
7. Never say never…but I’ll never wear any other running shoe but the Asics Gel Kayano. I have been wearing Asics Gel Kayanos for as long as I can remember. I have yet to get a blister, lose a toe nail, or really have any foot issues even when training for and running long distances. There is no “break-in” period with these sneakers for me and every time I get a new pair, I fall in love all over again. Marilyn Monroe once said, “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” I feel like I am conquering the world in my Asics.
8. I do not look cute running. I’d like to think that I am one of those girls that looks put together, athletic, and cute while running. However, after running past a shop window at around mile 15 today, I have confirmed that this is just not the case for me. I was feeling good, nearing the end of the run, and then BAM! Is that me?!?!?! Oh dear God! NOT CUTE. My water belt was around my waist sideways. My jacket was jacked up around my belt. My hair was frozen to the side of my face. It made me think of one of those images where it shows “how you think you look running” versus “how you really look”. Hilarious!
9. Fuel for the long run is a necessity. When I run long, I have to be very careful what I put into my body so that I don’t have stomach issues and so that I have enough fuel to carry me through to the finish. Today I brought my water along, but I also consumed Raspberry GU Chomps Energy Chews which were new for me. I don’t like gels, but I loved these chews. I alternated between those and one of my favorites, the Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews. The combination was perfect and helped me finish strong.
What did you learn on your runs this week?