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Loving to Tri

5 Things I Learned on my Long Run

Once again it’s time for Friday Five, hosted by the D.C. Trifecta – Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia. This week’s topic is “Free Friday,” so I thought I’d talk about five things I learned on my long run yesterday. David – if you’re reading this, you might want to stop (there’s a picture of my foot).

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Supplies for my long run.


This was my last long run of this training cycle, a 12-miler in preparation for my half marathon at Biltmore Estate on March 15. If you’ve never run a race, you might not realize that these long runs aren’t just for training your body. They’re for training the mind and for testing out race-day nutrition and hydration. If you pay attention to your body and mind, you can learn a lot during these long runs. Here’s some of what I learned:

1. I suck at math, even of the simplest type.

I recently switched my nutrition from GUs to Shot Bloks. I used to have a GU – that’s about 100 calories – every 3 miles. So, yesterday I thought I’d have a Shot Blok every 2 miles. Once I got to mile 7, I started getting pretty tired. It took me a while to figure out that 1) if I’d been using GUs, I would have had 200 calories by mile 6 and 2) with the Shot Bloks, I had only had 100 calories at mile 6. Once I figured this out (at about mile 9), I started eating a few extra Shot Bloks and got through the run. Luckily, I had brought an extra pack of Shot Bloks just in case. Glad I figured this out in a training run and not during a race!

2. Electrolytes are important even in the winter.

You’ll notice in the photo above that I brought along my handheld water bottle. It holds enough fluid to get me through about 6 miles, and I could easily fill it up at Whole Foods at the halfway point of my run. Leg cramps at mile 9 and an intense craving for pretzels clued me in that maybe I needed some electrolytes. Next time, I’ll throw some of my favorite NUUN into my water bottle!

3. Wearing newish shoes on a long run is about as good an idea as wearing them for a race.

Because of the recent snow fall, I wasn’t really sure about what type of surface I’d be running on. So, I wore my new trail shoes that I’d only worn once. Needless to say, my black toenail got a little bit blacker…

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4. There is some sketchy stuff going on at ICAR during the day. We’re talking Mustangs revving their engines and racing around, cars pulled up window to window for what looked like drug deals. All sorts of stuff. I just kept my head down and kept running…

5. An active imagination will help keep you from getting bored during a long run.

I don’t like to run with music for safety reasons and also because you can’t use it during a triathlon. Yesterday, I kept my mind occupied by coming up with phrases to chant in time with my steps: “I am strong” for when I was breathing every three steps and “hills sucks” for when I was breathing every two steps. When I saw the supposed drug deal going down, I imagined running for safety through the woods, thankful that I had my trail shoes on.

Do you have any long runs coming up? What are some of the things you’ve learned from your long runs?


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