Thinking back on how easy and normal yesterday’s 20 mile run was brought back memories of how long runs used to be. And it made me realize all the little things I do differently now that make such a huge difference.
I remember one long run, probably about 9 miles, where my sneakers were hurting my feet so bad by Mike 5 that I took them off and ran in my socks. Holding my sneakers in my hands. They were awful sneakers for me- obviously, if they caused so much pain. I don’t know why I just didn’t leave them on the side of the road. Lesson learned: wear supportive and well fitting sneakers. And don’t wear brand new sneakers for the first time on a long run. Test them out on regular runs first.
Lesson 2: BODY GLIDE. If you don’t own this, go to Amazon right now and buys some. I used to chafe everywhere. Armpits, boobs, thighs, butt. Everywhere. Instead of realizing this was normal and could be avoided, I thought it was because I wasn’t stick skinny. I thought it was because of my fat, my flesh- one of the negatives of not being a stick skinny runner. So freakin ridiculous. I’m embarrassed by those thoughts. Once I discovered body glide, which a local bike shop sells, I was transformed. I no longer had to run the last five miles of a long run with my arms held away from my body so that my underarms didn’t chafe more. So many awkward running memories of running in pain because I was clueless. I never chafe anymore. Well almost never, sometimes I forget to body glide my butt crack and will get a slight rash. But really, I run pain free now because of body glide.
And another obvious lesson: fueling. As in eating and drinking. I used to run 13 to 18 miles without eating breakfast and without bringing food or drink. I thought it was hard core. Um, yeah, hard core dumb. No wonder I ran so slow and got so tired. Gaterade and cliff bars and GU are awesome and make the run so much more manageable! You don’t crash! You can practice race day fueling! Having steady levels of energy throughout the run make it so much more fun. We recently discovered Run Gum and love that too! Fueling isn’t for the weak, it’s for the smart.
I used to also think I loved running my long runs alone. I loved the time to think. It felt like a freedom. And that’s still true. And I still love running alone. BUT running a long run with someone you like is even better. Running long runs with Katie is awesome because long runs are long. As in hours and hours long. And if you have a running buddy with you then you can talk. We talk about the stupidest stuff. We rehash our week. Tell stories. Talk about celebrity crushes ( hi JJ Watts!). Talk about our running dreams. We sing songs. We pace each other. We guard each other while taking potty breaks. We take turns carrying the Gatorade bottle. It rocks. I feel so lucky and grateful to have a long run buddy.
And my last realization, my last long run lesson is about preventing injury. Every year, for a couple years in a row, I would get bursitis in my knee. Then two years ago, I pulled my butt muscle on a long run and had to run straight legged home. Yeah, not smart. So I started strengthening my core. Stretching my legs. Doing yoga. Doing Nike Training Club App workouts. And holy snot, it helps!! I’m probably jinxing myself, but yoga, foam rolling, and strength workouts have helped me be a better runner. Have helped me stay injury free. Have helped me run long without pain.
The interesting thing is I’ve always loved the long runs. Even when I was in crazy pain. Because it felt so badass. But I have learned so much. And what I have learned makes me able to go faster and longer. So that’s even more badass.