Building mileage is essential for creating and maintaining a base that allows you to improve your time, keep fit and train for races. The downside I have found to all of this however, is sometimes the longer I run the less prepared I can feel.
What you take with you (or don’t) is entirely personal and dependent on your individual preference that takes trial and error. In order to help you cut down on some frustrating experiences, I have collected some tips from fellow runners and included a few of my own that others might find helpful. Here they are, in no particular order:
Dress for the weather. 20° warmer than what it is outside. Run Oregon blogger Geli Heidelberger follows this rule. After the first mile you will feel 20° warmer than when you started. She says “if you are running in weather that is 40°, dress as if you were in a 60° day and not exercising. So, starting at 50° I wouldn’t wear long pants since I would be comfortable with bare legs at 70°”. For more tips on dressing for running in the winter, Runner’s World has some great advice.
Sometimes I feel like Randy from A Christmas Story.
Plan your route ahead of time. This way, you can decide what to wear and what gear to bring with you, depending on how far you will be going. Figure out ahead of time where you will park if you will be driving to your location. Map out how far you’ll run. Make sure that someone knows where you are going if you plan on running solo.
Plan your route around restrooms and water. If you will be running longer than 6 miles, or running in extreme heat, you will want to plan a route where you know there will be a water fountain to refill your water bottle. If you don’t plan on carrying water with you, this is especially important. Nothing sucks more than having to cut your run short because you are dehydrated. Same goes for not being able to find a restroom when nature calls. If you have ever run with a full bladder before, you know what an incentive it can be to finish your workout fast! But, having to think about not peeing your shorts while running won’t allow you to focus on your run and giving it your best.
Fuel appropriately. For shorter runs, it really isn’t necessary to eat more than a 100-200 calorie snack. I consider as “shorter” run to be 6 miles or less. If you are running longer than 30 minutes or 6 miles, you should consider taking in fuel. This could be in the form of Gatorade, gels, or chews. Personally, I love a small handful of gummi bears or fruit snacks. Jelly Belly makes a new product called Sport Beans that was handed out in the swag bags at the Rock n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon this past November. For more information on how to calculate the fuel you need for your body, check this out.
Don’t be afraid to do a “loop”. I’ve been teased for this in the past. Sometimes I just don’t know how many layers will keep my comfy or if I really want my water belt. If I’m in a new area, I’ll plan my first mile to swing back by my car so that I can leave anything I don’t want to continue on with me.
Bring what you need-not what everyone else tells you that you’ll need. I know, I’m contradicting what I told you earlier on, but listen: take advice from people who have been running longer than you because they have been where you are before. Their advice could save you time and the frustration of ‘crap’ runs. Keep it simple. You don’t have to run with a GPS watch. You don’t have to run with headphones. You don’t need compression socks, sleeves, or a CamelBak. IF you want to bring all those things, great! Running is simple–one of the most simple activities humans enjoy…and there is nothing wrong about running your way.