14 Miles, 14 Lessons

Saturday, I did my long run as part of my half marathon training program – 14 miles, and a little over 12 of them were with SpeedyJ, which made them that much easier. In honor of those 14 miles, here are 14 lessons I’ve learned for long training runs.

  1. Dress comfortably. For me, that means checking the What to Wear tool on Runner’s World and laying out my outfit in advance. But it also means adjusting the outfit to what the weather is going to be an hour into your run. I had worn leggings and a long-sleeve top, and as the morning grew warmer, I had to push up my sleeves for most of the run. I should have worn a tank top. 
  2. Carry extra fuel. I know I’m supposed to have an energy gel every 45 minutes, along with a swig of water, so I tucked two GU-brand gels into the pouch on my water bottle holder. Then I decided to tuck in a third, just in case. I didn’t need it, but it was nice to know it was there.
  3. Don’t start running on the ice. I knew this one, too. 
  4. Run against traffic. Another thing I already knew – but I see plenty of runners going with the flow of traffic, and I shudder. 
  5. Only use one earbud. The other earbud was tucked into my bra strap. I wanted to be able to hear cars (and people) approaching me.
  6. But if you have Yurbuds, take off the part that screws into your ear if you’re tucking it into your bra strap. I lost my right Yurbud and am really sad.
  7. Bandage your blisters. I had a blister already from previous runs, courtesy of splashing into a puddle. I forgot to bandage that blister, and I now have a blister on top of my blister. Ouch.
  8. Watch out for puddles. Saturday, there were a ton of puddles thanks to the melting snow. I ended up splashing in a couple, getting my feet wet, and getting the aforementioned extra blister.
  9. Fuel up! I got up early for the sole purpose of eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread, because that is going to be my pre-half marathon fuel.
  10. Watch out for slick spots in the shade. Yeah, this was something I learned the hard way two weeks ago. I’m running along happily through a shady patch when I notice some nice, smooth spots on the road. Uh-oh. I slowed my roll and didn’t slip, but I was annoyed.
  11. Charge your watch! Lesson learned from a previous run – I hadn’t charged my Garmin for a week, and it was down to 50 percent power. The entire time I was running, I was worried that I would run out of juice and not be able to track my last few miles. This time, my Garmin was charged and ready to run.
  12. Don’t be afraid to stop. SpeedyJ and I paused for GU breaks and to stretch. And when SpeedyJ finished her portion of the run, I stopped to gulp down some Gatorade.
  13. Enjoy the scenery. We took a really pretty route and saw some gorgeous scenery and houses that we would love to live in if we had the money.
  14. Rest afterward. Stretch, have a snack, take a shower, and rest a little. I had to immediately plunge into housework, but I also took a few minutes to sit on the couch with my iPad and play Candy Crush. Because no matter what shape you’re in, 14 miles is going to take its toll on you.