As we're finishing up our third mother runner book, we're going green this summer and recycling some of our blog posts. This post originally appeared on our site on August 23, 2010
Just call me the Britney Spears of running as, ooops, I did it again: Ran longer than intended. Got myself all turned around in a hilly, deserted cemetery and ended up running 20.5 miles instead of scheduled 18. Yet I felt great on the run and afterward. It got me thinking about what I’d done so I could repeat it on other go-long forays leading up to the Portland Marathon. Here are my top 10 secrets to successful long runs:
#1: Ate well and didn’t get parched the day before. I always pay close attention to my night-before dinner selection (this time I loaded up on pesto-pasta salad at potluck picnic for twins’ preschool graduation), but this time I also had a protein- and fruit-packed smoothie and several big bottles of nuun-flavored water during the day.
#2 No booze. I think a glass of vino or a beer the night before a long run is fine for some folks. But I rarely drink and it messes with my sleep, so I teetotaled.
#3 Got plenty of shut-eye. I wanted to stay up with Jack, instead I hit the hay at 9:45 p.m.
#4 Wore capris. You know me: I love my skirts dearly. But I find even the best lubing efforts can’t keep chub-rub in check much past 16 miles. Lucky for me, it was somewhat chilly and overcast most of the run, so I didn’t overheat.
#5 Remembered to chomp caffeinated gumfor 10 minutes before hitting the road. Studies have shown caffeine reduces perception of pain in athletes. I don’t normally ingest caffeine, except before a race or long run. I’m a believer.
#6 Stayed well hydrated and fueled during the run. I had two 10-ounce bottles on my Ultimate Direction waistbelt, and I stopped at two water fountains to refill them.
#7 Splashed water on my forearms and face at those blessed fountains. Few things make me feel more refreshed and reinvigorated than getting the sweat off my arms and face. Ahhh!
#8 Started refueling as soon as I walked in the backdoor, including having a new favorite—chocolate milk. Followed that up with toast and jam, then a banana with almond butter.
#9 Wore a pair of 110% Play.Harder Compression socks all day (under jeans) and part of the night. Oh, yeah, I rocked the look, let me tell ya… But I’m a believer in compression socks or thigh-highs for recovery.
#10 Kept a positive attitude. About eight miles into the run—after climbing steady hills for nearly four miles and before getting sorta-lost—a feeling came over me, and I knew I had the run in the bag. I literally said to myself, outloud: “The hard part is over. Just maintain, and you are golden.”
What are your proven tools of success on challenging runs?