Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Running Essentials

It is race week, friends! In just 5 short days, I'll be trucking through my next half marathon- which has been quite the adventure. For some unknown reason after only 3.5 weeks to train, I feel pretty darn confident going into it. Now not confident in a certain pace (especially if we are implying that would be a good pace), but after getting 11.5 miles done pretty easily this weekend I think that it will be an enjoyable race. I'm excited for my mom to finish her first half and I'm hoping that Cal makes an appearance to cheer me on.

When I signed up for my first half marathon 6 years ago, I was a much different runner than I am today. I had no idea what to expect, so I was both fearless and entirely fearful. I was fearless in the way that I didn't know what to expect, so I would speed through the beginning of workouts and then bonk majorly closer to the end. My first race ever remains my PB half marathon and I have no doubt it is because I sped through the first few miles and had NO idea what I was getting into. However, I was fearful too. I followed my training schedule to a T. If it said run 4 miles, I would run up and down my driveway to get that last .07 in. If it said cross train for 55 minutes and there was a limit on the gym machines, I would power walk to the next one open. I was so fearful of not being able to finish that I took the training plan (which I downloaded off the internet) to be 100% fool proof.

Now, I'm generally a lot more relaxed about my training. This weekend I was supposed to run 12 and was feeling pretty good. I felt like I had crossed the city, only got lost once, and thought it might be fun for Cal to run the last little bit with me. I swung by the house and Andrew had him ready to go... but he wouldn't go. Or in reality, all he wanted to do was GO (to the bathroom). After trying to coax him along for a bit, I realized that the last .5 miles wasn't going to make that much of a difference. I gladly walked Cal home and didn't feel (too) guilty for not rounding out the distance.

When I started running, I also had NO idea of the running gear that can make your run that much more enjoyable. And now that I'm not a complete novice runner, I think it makes a ton of difference. Here is my list on what makes those long runs just a bit easier.

1) Water Belt- This isn't the exact one that I carry, but I love that it has bonus water bottles. An absolute help if you have a cheering crew on race day that you can trade out your empties for. Just like with shoes and clothes and fuel, you absolutely need to practice running while hydrating or your stomach will be feel like a roller coaster after a couple of hydration stations. I love having a big pocket to carry my ID, phone, fuel, and key if necessary. Water belts take a little time to get used to, but I rarely go on a long run without one.

2) Shot Bloks- You think I'm kidding, but sometimes I think I may go for long runs just to be able to pop a couple of these. They are tasty, easy on the stomach, and just the energy burst to keep you going. I have had a hard time with certain Gus or other fuels keeping my stomach feeling good (I won't even tell you about the time I ran while eating my weight in gummy bears), but this works great for me.

3) Thorlo's Experia Socks- Running is supposed to be a pretty cheap hobby, right? Well- right and wrong. Yes, you can go put on your 100 year tennies and hit the ground running, but having supportive garments make everything so much better. My parents got me my first pair of Thorlos a few years back and they make the long runs so much better for my feet. They offer support, but also breathe well. I only have a few pairs because I only use them for hard runs, but would recommend snagging a pair or two if you intend to run some serious mileage.

4) Compression Sleeves- I used to be a nonbeliever, but just one time with these sweet, sweet compression sleeves to recover changed my outlook on what sore meant. Compression clothing can help quicken recovery and reduce inflammation after a particularly hard workout. I use calf sleeves to recover in (studies of performance wearing these while racing don't seem to indicate any advantage) and my recommendation is to wait till when a brand goes on sale and then snag them.

5) Running Activity Tracker- Now this model is absolutely not mine. Mine? Well it is actually Andrew's from about 5 years ago that is quite persnickety. Running activity trackers (think garmins... not just a fit bit) are so helpful while running to be able to stay alert (no looking at one's phone and falling flat on your face), monitoring your pace, and tracking your distance. It doesn't make you a faster runner, but it may make you a smarter runner. I know what my normal pace should be, so if I'm running 45 seconds faster than that and am aiming for a steady endurance run, I know that I need to back off. I would like to pick up a new one soon that tracks heart rate as well to be able to work on fitness, but the price tag is a little steep for an everyday purchase. 

Do you have any must have running accessories?


  1. That water belt is so cool! I hate carrying water when I run, but I always get so thirsty. Asics are my favorite running shoe, so that is pretty much the only must have for me.

  2. I had the same evolution with training plans. I used to follow them 100% because I was so afraid what would happen if I didn't. Now that I understand running and myself as a runner a little better, I'm more flexible and willing/able to modify my plan.
    I'm still on the search for the right fuel for me...I used to do Shot Bloks but I went through so many of them I can't even stand to think about eating them anymore!

  3. Socks are totally important - I didn't realize until i was running for longer periods of time!! Living in Boston everyone runs - like even when it's snowing - so I see they have a lot of these things! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  4. What do you suggest for shin splits? I'm slowly getting back into jogging/running and I have been getting some terrible shin splits! ahhh!

  5. A water belt is a great idea. Best of luck! You are gonna do great.

  6. flipbelt - BEST TRAINING BELT EVER. keeps your shit in place and doesn't even feel like you're wearing anything!

  7. Ahhh happy race week! I relate to this so much—once you get to know yourself as a runner it's easier to adjust your race and training plans for yourself and know more intuitively what your body needs to have a successful race.
    I have to TOTALLY agree on compression sleeves. I ended up having to buy a pair at the expo the day before my second half marathon and it made a world of difference in that race and in countless times of recovery since then. Game changer!

  8. Woo hoo to race week! & girl, I learned my lesson on not training with water/drinking water during a race. Won't be doing that again! I've never used compression sleeves but maybe I'll try those out soon...

  9. yay race week! how excitement.
    i don't run with food or water. i know, i'm odd. i've never run further than a half, but i've just never felt the need to. i'll have to check out those socks! i've never tried compression sleeves. i wouldn't even know where to start, lol. love my garmin though!

  10. I LOVE those socks! I have probably 100 pairs because my dad gets them for me for free. My friends always try and steal them!

    Lauren Elizabeth
    Petite in Pearls