In it For the Long Run: My 10 Long Run Must Haves
It's crazy to think that in a little over two months I'll be running my first marathon. I've always known this was something I would do, but it always seemed somewhat like an elusive goal. A goal I knew I would reach someday, but I never imagined that day would be so SOON.
So far, training has been going extremely smoothly. Today I ran 18 miles and I couldn't feel better!!! Honestly, sometimes I can hardly believe how well it's going! I think back to my first couple long runs of 9 or 10 miles and how nervous I was for them. I would get anxious the entire day before, go to bed nervous as heck and wake up with so much anticipation for the run that it would mess with me mentally. I let my nerves dictate my run (read more about this in my "Run the Mile You're In Post").
But now, it's like long runs have simply become a habit. I know that on Tuesdays I will wake up and I will kick ass and I will run really freaking far and I will love it. And YES, I truly do LOVE it! I'm up to 15 miles now (16 next week!!!) and I feel strong and completely capable. During my last long run I kind of felt like I could just have kept on going. Part of me was like "hm maybe I should just run 20 miles today," and then I realized that was crazy and stupid and didn't do it. BUT it just shows me how in love with this process and running that I am.
(This book, "The Athlete's Fix," has also been a huge help during this process! It talks about the link between digestive issues and intense athletics and finding the best foods that will help you perform your best!)
One of the reasons I think training has been going so well is because I've been placing a huge focus on preparing properly for the long runs and being "smart" during my long runs - fueling with the right kinds of foods (the night before AND morning of), wearing proper gear, bringing along the right kinds of things... you get the idea. I'll be doing a full post on long run fuel tips later on, but for now, here are my top must-have running products that have been the best running buddies EVER during this process!!!
High quality shoes & custom insoles: I HIGHLY suggest going to a running-shoe store that looks at your running style and chooses a shoe for you based on that. The store I've gone to since I began seriously running has me run on the treadmill while they videotape. We then look at the video in slow-motion, allowing us to truly study my gate and how my feet hit the ground. This helps me know if I need more or less supportive shoes. They also create custom insoles for you, which has also been such a life-saver for my feet. These aren't always necessary, but it's a good idea to go someplace that can tell you how much support you may need. The past 4 pairs of running shoes I've had have been Nike Lunarglides and I love them!! It's so important to find a shoe you love and feel good in!
Comfy clothes: I know it's fun to look cute during races (especially for those post-race pics), but time and time again I learn that comfort is key. For the long runs make sure you're wearing clothes you feel comfortable in and know won't chafe or rub uncomfortably.
Athletic (non-cotton) socks: I made the HUGE mistake of wearing cotton socks during my first half marathon and you should've seen my blisters... I had one the size of a baseball on the bottom of one foot... it was absolutely disgusting. Cotton socks rub a lot, causing too much friction on your skin. Getting wick-away socks has helped tremendously and I haven't gotten a single blister!
Hydration running belt: This bad boy is like my BFF. Although a little uncomfortable to get used to, it's extremely helpful to have some liquids on the run. I usually fill one small bottle with water and the other with electrolyte replenisher. It also has a small pocket where I can keep my house key and snacks!
Compression socks: I never wore my compression socks until this go-around with training because I was always too embarrassed. I thought they were dorky. But now I realize WHO CARES?! If something is going to help my body feel stronger and healthier and keep my running mile after mile, then I couldn't care less about what other people think! I can happily say that these have kept me from getting a single shin splint or calf cramp so far.
Ultima and Nuun electrolyte replenisher: Story time - I went to a doctor appointment last month a couple of hours after my long run and she took my blood pressure and it was SO freaking low she was a tad concerned and then we realized it's because I was extremely low in electrolytes. YIKES. I was sweating a ton, but neglecting to replenish any of the electrolytes I was losing. Obviously you won't be catching me chugging a gatorade, so I found these two brands at Whole Foods instead because they have no added sugar!
Pure Planet sports salts: I take one of these sports salts before my long runs because they help your body from losing as many electrolytes and trace minerals when you sweat! Here's a little excerpt from their website: "Did you know that you can lose up to 12 different minerals when you sweat? And that cramping‚ headaches and dehydration can all be caused by a lack of key trace minerals and electrolytes? Sports salts are important because the formula is specially designed to assist rehydration and minimize cramping." HOLLA.
Mini Larabars: I always bring either a mini Larabar or a couple dried dates on my long runs incase I need mid-run fuel. Some days I need them, some days I don't, but it's always a good idea to bring some sort of fuel along! Mini bars are a perfect small-bite to keep your energy up.
Headphones that don't fall out: I've had too much experience with bad headphones that just don't stay in. Maybe I have strangely small ears, but who knows. ;) There's seriously nothing I hate more on a run than having to fidget with my headphones a ton - total buzzkill. My dad gave me a pair of YurBuds and I didn't have high hopes, but I've been using them for probably 8 months now and I love them! They aren't pricey either (like at all). SCORE.
And last but not least... A BOMB AS HECK PLAYLIST: My "long run" playlist on Spotify is pretty great if I do say so myself. It keeps me pumped up and motivates me when it starts getting tough!
These 10 have truly saved me during this training process! Being smart and thorough through every stage of training, although tedious at times, has been so important for my success. I'm so excited to continue on this journey and take you all along with me!