Long Run Sundays: Lessons Learned

Hey, Everyone! This beautiful weekend has finally come to an end; at least it’s a 4 day week for me :) It was about 58* today, so I got to do my long run in shorts and a t-shirt, in mid-December, in Colorado. Win for the weather, and fail for my run.

I finally got my lazy butt into my running shoes and geared up for my 10 mile long run. I don’t run well on a completely empty stomach, so I fixed myself a bagel thin with ChiaCharger and an orange soda flavored Zipfizz.

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My roomie realized she still had some leftover red velvet pancake batter, so we cooked those up, too. I only had one, but I could have devoured the entire plate because they were that good.

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I let all this settle for about 45 minutes before heading out the door, but no amount of time would have made this run feel good. All of that uber spicy Thai food that I ate (for lunch, mind you) yesterday seriously messed up my stomach. I thought it had settled enough for me to run, but that was a major miscalculation on my end.

For most of my run, I had major cramps and/or the urge to vomit. This was definitely not the amazing 10 mile run I had last week. I also started out too fast. That combined with the intense cramps and nausea added up to some major positive splits for the last 6 miles, and finished 6 minutes slower than last week. In the end, I got it done and felt pretty amazing afterwards. Like they say, you never regret a workout.

In addition to my run, I was able to finish up my Christmas shopping after I had recovered. I made it to the REI flagship store for the first time today at just the right time. Being the very non-sports-oriented girl that I am, I didn’t realize that the big Broncos-Patriots game was nearly over when I got there. REI is really close to the stadium, but I was able to get in and out before traffic went supah crayzay and snag up some Zensah running sleeves and about 3 months worth of GU. It was my first time in the flagship store, and it’s HUGE! I mean, it literally feels like a grown-up sized tree house. Some of the narrow, high-up walkways gave me major vertigo, but I put on my big girl pants and survived.

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I also got lost about a bazillion times because you have to go up several stairs, across walkways, and down various ramps to access different areas. I felt like a contestant on the old Nickelodeon show, Legends of the Hidden Temple. If you don’t know what that is, you missed out on childhood. I’m sure REI is much easier to navigate than I make it seem, but it was my first time there, so give me a break ;)

Lessons Learned as a New Runner

While I was getting lost in REI, I had some time to think about my running experiences over the past two and a half months, and some of the things I’ve learned along the way. Most of them are probably *duh* moments, but listed nonetheless. [Note: most of these tips are more geared toward long runs because that is when I feel the effects most, but can be applied to shorter runs as well. Also, I am obviously not a medical professional, so seek out expert advice from one.]

  1. Don’t eat super spicy or stomach-irritating foods the night before a long run. My stomach is usually very ‘strong’ and tolerates exercising after whatever I feed it, but stuff that is way beyond the norm is no bueno. I learned this first-hand today.
  2. Start off uncomfortably slow. Then, if you have extra energy, use it up on the back-end of your run. This ensures you pace yourself correctly so that you don’t completely wear yourself out before you’re even halfway done.
  3. Drink water like it’s going out of style. I’ve been bad about hydrating this week, and I felt it.
  4. If you don’t usually train with caffeine/energy supplements, ease into it if you feel like starting. I took more than usual, and my heart felt like it was racing for most of my run.
  5. Try not to focus on time. It’s really hard not to, especially with a super cool Garmin, but it’s better to just enjoy yourself at this stage. I will never be Kara Goucher, but I’ll let myself fuss over times a bit more after I’ve at least finished my first half marathon in February. I want to relish every moment of my first race.
  6. Be flexible. Being extremely busy and living in a colder location, I don’t always get to run when and where I want. I’ve had to learn to make peace with the dreaded treadmill and push runs ahead or behind schedule to accommodate for schedule changes or weather.
  7. Find a buddy if you’re first starting. I don’t think I would have ever made it through my first ‘long runs’ if it weren’t for my friends. 4 miles 2 months ago felt like a marathon distance. Having a cheerleader and pacer made it all so do-able. Now, I prefer long runs by myself, but run with a buddy when the opportunity comes.
  8. Get fitted for shoes. After reading Born to Run, this seems less relevant, but I’m sticking with this advice for now. Before I picked up running for the first time in October, I hadn’t bought new sneakers in over 4 years.
  9. Mix things up. If you do well with the same thing all the time, good for you. I get bored even if I run the exact same route more than once in a month, so I’ll pick one new street to turn on to, a new park, or a trail. This keeps things interesting, and you get to experience your town/city/state in a whole new perspective.
  10. Start slow in speed and short in distance. If you’ve never been a runner, like me, it’s not worth getting injured before you’ve really started.
  11. Have fun! When I start to feel too serious about the details or am not feeling the run, I remember that most of running is all mental, and I can choose to change my perspective.

Question of the Day: If you’re a runner, what are some tips you have for newbies like me? If you’re not, what is your preferred form of exercise?

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17 thoughts on “Long Run Sundays: Lessons Learned

  1. hi! I discovered your blog recently. love the tips because i can relate to almost all of them – starting uncomfortably slow is really good advice (esp. for peeps like me just getting back into the swing of things). good luck!

  2. Oh mannn I watched WAYYY too much Nickelodeon when I first came to the US!!! I’m Nicked out, haha. Ahh I hope your tummy feels 100% better now!! I looooove spicy food and all.i.ever.ate.was.spicy.food!!! Up until about 3 years ago. I do eat it, but the doc suggested I stop eating it too much b/c of stomach problems. So you too, beware of spice levels at Thai and Indian restaurants! It’s a “blessing” in disguise for us Koreans b/c 95% of our foods are spicy :P wait, you’re korean right?!

  3. Pingback: Holiday Food is Trying to Kill Me « Fit on the Rocks

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