Friday, April 5, 2013

Lessons from Long Runs

Lesson #1. Although I have no problem handing over my credit card for hundreds of dollars per year of race fees without a second thought, for some reason I am a total cheapskate when it comes to buying gels. "$1.25 each?!?"

"What am I, *made* of money over here??
Whatever, glycogen is overrated."

As a result, I tend to buy only the exact amount that I need for my next long run, as if there's going to be some kind of mad gel fire sale or something if I hold out long enough. You can imagine how this backfires when I'm all set to head out the door & realize I have no gels. (Or, like, only one gross one I got randomly as a free sample.) Let me tell you, more than one long run route has been plotted such that it takes me by the Sports Basement or Sports Authority.

In a moment of clarity, I stopped on the way home Thursday & purchased like $30 worth (which, for some reason, felt kind of indecent, like buying porn or something. I kind of didn't want to look the dude at the register in the eye).

Move along, nothing to see here...

Also, apparently if you live in the neighborhood you get a 10% discount at Sports Basement. How have I never known this?????

My gels of choice these days are either Clif Shots or PowerBar gels, because the consistency in both is a little thinner & a little less paste-like than some of the others. Accel gels aren't too bad either. In particular, I can heartily recommend the PowerBar green apple one.

Lesson #2. Long runs are soooo much better with company. Even running with a friend for part of the way makes such a huge difference in how easy it is mentally to tackle big miles.

No, this wasn't a long run, but it illustrates the point nicely. :)

Thanks for all your advice re: getting my long run in before going out of town for a no-miles weekend. Ultimately I decided that the smartest thing to do was just get the long run done, however I had to. I ended up running 5 miles to & into Golden Gate Park & meeting A at her usual entry point. When I left the house, I felt just terrible--tired legs, whiney calf, & working WAY too hard for a pace considerably slower than my usual "easy" pace. Not the feeling you're excited to have when you're staring down the barrel of an 18 miler at the end of a work day.

But I soldiered on into the park, & the two of us made one big seven-mile loop together. There is nothing like a running buddy to distract you from how crappy you feel, & before I knew it we were all the way back around (even made it all the way up the MLK hill without stopping!) & I was feeling much, MUCH better.

Lesson #3. No matter how bad you feel when you start, there (usually) comes a point in a long run when you "break through" from feeling tired & crappy to feeling warmed up & strangely comfortable. When I left A & started back towards home, I was glad to find that I actually still felt pretty good--no worrisome aches & pains, no joints threatening to implode, etc. (Consistent strength work, anyone? I'm going with yes.) When my watch hit 14 miles, my reaction was, "Only four miles left? That's actually not all that far..." Before I knew it I was flying through the Panhandle at a sub-8 pace without feeling like I was expending much effort at all. (Downhill, okay, but still.) I reached home still going strong & feeling as if I could've gone a few more miles if I'd had to without any problem. This is the way I prefer to finish a long run.


Lesson #4. Screw complex carbs. You can *totally* marathon train on pancakes & donuts. And recover with BBQ ribs.

That's just how we roll around here.

Have a great weekend everyone!!! :D


  1. Impressive! And also, I am so glad to hear that green apple gels are not just tasty but also available here. I saw them for the first time at the Berlin expo but didn't buy them because I wasn't sure that would be a US-friendly flavor.

  2. I am also intrigued by the green apple gel. I will only take gels on race days now -- I try to stick to clif bloks on long runs. I bought a whole case from Running Warehouse so it was super reasonable (free shipping, and I have a 15% discount code on top of their already low prices).

  3. Do you have a AAA card? That also works for 10% off at sports basement

  4. I'm also excited about the apple gel...what a fantastic idea. Going to hunt some of that out!!
    I bought a big box of gels at my local shop a few months ago. I only take them during races so that'll last me for ages, and stops me feeling quite so sick of them. I also got a discount - so it sounds like bulk is the way to go.
    Have a great weekend after this fantastic I said before...drink as much wine as you fancy. You need to hydrate now :)