That that don't kill me, can only make me stronger. I need you to hurry up now, cause I can't wait much longer. Kanye West, Stronger

Monday, April 7, 2008

How to prepare for long runs

This post is inspired by my poorly planned long run on Saturday. It was the second in my half marathon training schedule, and boy was I a mess.

So before I tell you the story, here are tips for a stellar long run!

Plan ahead, like 3 days ahead.

For the first two months of my marathon training, I would get so nervous before practices that I would actually feel nauseous. So a few days I ahead, I would psych myself up, envision a great run and try to get excited.

Drink extra water days ahead of time, once you are out there it is too late!

Check the weather and plan your outfit accordingly.
The night before find out what kind of weather you are in for, and select the proper outfit.
-If it is going to be windy, have a wind resistant jacket or top.
-If it is going to be hot, make sure you have fabrics that don't trap sweat in, and hopefully keep you as cool and dry as possible.
-If it is going to be chilly, dress in layers. Good options include a short sleeve top under a long sleeve top with a shell, jacket or vest on top. These won't be so bulky that it will be annoying to run with them around your waist. Dri-fit is a fabric that is designed to keep moisture away from the body. I shop mainly at the Nike clearance website, Jack Rabbit Sports, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Road Runner Sports.

Have all of this ready to go for the morning clothes, hairband, sunglasses/sunscreen, ipod, keys, fuelbelt, lip balm, money, socks, shoes, etc. Figure out how you are going to carry everything, in your fuelbelt, raceready shorts, jacket, or pinned to your clothes in a little pouch.

Plan your fuel.

Depending on how much you will be running, you may want to consider shifting a larger percentage of your total calories to carbohydrates, but not necessarily eating more food. My coach always said, if you usually have chicken with rice, have rice with chicken.

Have your breakfast planned, and ready to go if possible.

Pack all your gus, shot blocks, powergels or anything you use for workout fuel in your fuel belt or race ready shorts or pinned to your pants or where ever you carry them.

If you are using a fuel belt, fill it the night before with water or a sports drink, or half and half.

Look at your route in advance-become very familiar with your route so you know where there are water fountains, bathrooms, and places to stop if you need to. If you have never run the route, really take it in so you don't get lost or confused.

Long runs are always best with friends, but if you are flying solo make sure your playlist is hot!

The preparation is a little bit of effort, but you will be rewarded by a far more enjoyable run.

Case in point.

Saturday I knew I had to do a long run. I knew I couldn't run 7-8 miles on the treadmill, and going to Central Park seemed like a lot of effort, so outside in Queens it was. My normal route in Astoria is about 6 miles, and as I creature of habit, I couldn't figure out how to extend it. So I logged onto and used the find a run feature to view other runs around 8 miles in distance in my area.

It was pretty funny to see the route people had created. There was actually a "Pinkberry" route, which I assumed involved running into Manhattan, getting Pinkberry, and running back. For some reason, tackling the 59th Street bridge by myself just didn't seem groovy. However, I saw a Roosevelt Island loop that looked pretty good. Roosevelt Island is kind of the weirdest place on earth, it is technically part of Manhattan County, but it is secluded between Manhattan and Queens accessible only by tram or the F train.

Anyways, I liked the idea of running by the water, so I kind of just headed out the door. Bad idea. Instead of putting on real running clothes that would have aided in temperature control, I went out in sweatpant, a long sleeve shirt and a sweatshirt, and decided to just carry my keys (a set with just two keys to keep it light) and ipod in my hand. I didn't bring any water, money or my metrocard in case of emergency.

It was a very windy but very sunny day, so it was very hot at some points, and freezing cold in the wind at other points. Sweatshirt material doesn't really adapt to this, so I was fairly uncomfortable through most of the run. I finally got annoyed with taking my sweatshirt on and off, and decided to just be cold.

It was actually so windy that for the first few blocks, I wasn't sure if I was actually moving forward, I almost went home!

Besides being hot or cold and thirsty. I only spent a few seconds looking at the route. So once I got onto Roosevelt Island, I was incredibly confused. I thought I would just follow the path around the island, but it stopped abruptly a few times leaving my fairly confused. I actually did a decent amount of walking to find my way back to the path.

On the bright side, the scenery was fresh and it was and probably will be the only nice day for a while. However, I didn't even think to wear sunscreen, so I got a little bit of a burn. ooops.

The run itself started out quite painful, but I let myself run very slow and listen to slow, relaxing music, like the fray, the plain white-t's, common, and dave matthews, so it was a mentally quieting journey in a way.

The suggested route was 6.75 miles, but from my house I figured it was a little longer. When I logged my route in when I was done, it came to 7.98 miles. Right on target!


Betsy said...

looks like we both f-ed up on this saturday's long run. the weather (with all that wind)was weird! and threw me off too.

at what distance did you start experimenting with GUs/gels etc.??

Melissa said...

The general rule is after an hour, take one and then every 45 minutes thereafter.

That said, this run was about 45 minutes after I ate lunch, so I was totally fine running for an hour and half without refilling.

But next weekend I plan to run 9-10, so I will definitely bring one with me just in case.

Wind sucks, but at least I ran Saturday, Sunday was freezing!!

Amy said...

Melissa......I have the most totally random request. My friend just went on a first date and said she experienced the most awful awkward silence with the guy. Since your a new yorker (like most new yorkers) you seem savvy. Do you think you could do post on how to handle awkward first date silences, etc. I know so very very random!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa said...

Hey Amy,

Your comment made me smile. I am hoping my friend Jessica will do a post about this because she is the perfect savvy, snarky new yorker to address this, but generally...depending on how long you have known the person, a first date is like meeting amyone for the first time, there is a lot to learn.

So whatever you common ground is, is a good place to start. Like if you meet through school, talk about school, why you chose it, your classes, etc.

It's a good opportunity to find out what the person is passionate about and learn more about something new. Like if they are really into golf, you can say, I know nothing about golf, what do you enjoy about it? Where's your favorite place to play, or whatever. If you are really into golf talk about your favorite players.

I mean obviously things in the news or pop culture stuff like tv, movies, etc are always an easy subject to start with.

If it seems weird to bring up, just say like, you know I just started watching this show....

But I have to say my first thought about this comment was, silence isn't always a bad thing. It means you are comfortable enough to enjoy each others company without feeling a need to fill the silence with ANYTHING. I am totally guilty of saying stupid things to avoid akward silences, but sometimes it's just better to take a breath, wink, smile or take a long sip of your drink.

Obviously on the first date, you shouldn't be comfortable enough to sit in silence for minutes on end, but you know what i mean.

While dating should be organic and flowing to a certain extent it wouldn't hurt for your friend to think of a few things she might want to talk about beforehand.

Amy said...

Thanks so much for your post. I know saying my friend sounds like it was really me, but honestly it was a friend, it just panicked me because I realize so far I have been lucky and dated relatively talkative guys, but I am sure a quite one will come along!

It's so much easier to talk to guys when you don't have a crush on them!

Jill said...

Hi Melissa,

When ever I use the equipment at the gym, my hands get all blistery and really hurt. I got a few free trainer sessions upon joining and the trainer is like in a "macho" voice- oh it will be good for you. (this trainer and I did not click!). Anyway, since I am a girl, blistery and sore red hands are not the look I am going after. Any ideas? I've seen people wear gloves but they look so (not fashionable), plus I have no idea what brand to buy. Thanks and I love love your site :)

Jill said...

Sorry, I have one more question. I love videos too (usually I don't have time for the gym, which I joined recently), do your roommates get annoyed that you do exercise videos or are you embarrassed. I have both issues (I look like a complete dork while exercising, which is fine, but still embarrassing).

Melissa said...

Hi Jill,

As for the blisters...ouch!

I do get blisters if I use the rower too long.

I would assume your blisteresare caused by one of the following:

-gripping too hard
-really heavy weights
-tons of reps
-machines built for men with the rough textures, I always look for the soft, smooth handweights, not the metal ones.
-very delicate skin

I am not sure if altering any of the above would help, but you can ask your trainer to suggest exercises that use your body weight for resistance. My trainer says that weight machines are for beginners, whereas using your body and hand weights will really allow you to challenge yourself.

I agree the gloves are pretty tacky, if you don't aspire to be a body builder.

In any case, L'Occitane after couldn't hurt:)

I am lucky to have a big bedroom, so my roommates probably don't even know I do workout videos. Although, I worry about the people on the floor below me! When I was in college, I was too embarassed to do them in our common room unless no one was home!

Anonymous said...

I am not a runner, but I love reading your running posts for inspiration to exercise in general!

Do you ever go to exercise classes or do you prefer working out in the main part of the gym. For example, you mentioned that you did a workout from a magazine. I find it can be hard to look at the magazine as I am working out and easy to get off track. How do you read the move and exercise without stopping too long in between?

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't let me leave a comment with my name (but I'm Kat)

Laura said...

Hi Melissa,

I noticed that you do not typically go to gym classes, is that just preference to work out alone or gym times are bad or do you feel they are not good?

Melissa said...

Hi Kat!

I like classes more, however, my gym's classes aren't free, so I am pretty much stuck with the main part of the gym. My dvds add variety. Also I try to workout with coworkers a couple times a week to keep it interesting.

Magazine workouts are hard at the gym. I tend to only do the strength ones because I find strength kind of boring without a plan. The first time you have to pause to read the directions, but once I find one I like, I eventually don't need to refer to the article. However, I find magazine workouts are best in a pinch at home, provided they don't require too much equipment! ALso most magazines have videos online, so you can actually see the moves. Sometimes they are totally different than what I would do on my own if I didn't see the instructions.

Hi Laura,

Sometimes classes are better than workouting out on your own, other times they are too easy. It really depends on the class and the instructor. I think most spinning, step, and hip hop classes are great workouts!

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