Thursday, April 19, 2012

Anne's Tips and Tricks for the Long-Distance Runner...

Sure, sure--you could get tips from the literally thousands of sites focused on running. If you'd prefer something to prop on the treadmill at the gym, there are dozens of magazines running--ha!--the gamut from my personal fave Runner's World to Competitor to the somewhat disturbing UltraRunning Magazine (covered in the most recent issue: the Umstead 100, a race in which human beings run continuously for, yes, 100 miles). But here I am, and here you are, so here we go: 10 tips, tricks and observations I used/made/formulated during my last long-distance race.

1. Shoes are important. Like, really important: think, this is THE piece of equipment for your sport. You don't have to blow hundreds of dollars on them, but don't skimp on the features you need (adequate cushioning, a sole that suits your running style, good support) just to save a few bucks. Your thrift will be rewarded with injury, and that sucks.
2. Don't break the shoes out of the box the day of the race. Wear those puppies in for a while (though not TOO much--you don't want the cushioning to be shot), lest blisters be your reward.
3. So, blisters. In a long race (half-marathon or more) they're probably going to happen. Wear good shoes and good socks and you can minimize them. Strategically placed bandages can help too. What doesn't help: running in stilettos. But you probably knew that already.
4. Remember what I said about shoes being THE equipment for your sport? If you're a person of the female persuasion, add a good sports bra to the list. There are roughly as many kinds as there are currently calculated decimal points of pi. Some lift and separate while others still have the distressing 'uniboob' effect; some are best for members of the IBTC while others have the engineering and material to harness twin zeppelins. Pick one suited for you and your girls--it's hard enough to run 26.2 miles without portions of your own anatomy trying to punch you in the face the whole time.
5. And while we're talking about breasts--gentlemen (and women who are, for whatever reason, running without bras): if you're running more than a 15-K or so, you're going to want to preemptively Band-Aid your nipples. I'm not kidding (sweet suffering Jesus, I wish I were). Because otherwise you're going to look down at your shirt around mile 10, and a phrase will register in your mind that you will never be able to un-think, try as you might: chafed, bleeding nipples. You're welcome.
6.Hydrate--but don't overdo it. If you're running in average (ie not hellishly hot or humid) weather and you're well conditioned, making sure you're drinking the equivalent of what you're sweating out actually isn't that hard. Feel thirsty? Have a drink. Or tell yourself you'll have a drink every x miles (or every x minutes). It's important to avoid dehydration, but 'water intoxication' is a real thing, too--not to mention that too much water sloshing around in your stomach can make you feel nauseated.
7. Put your name on your placard. It's much more motivating to hear people shouting "Go Anne!" than to hear "Yay, go number 347!"
8. Eat something before the race. No, not a huge breakfast--that way lies madness (and vomiting). Have toast with a banana and peanut butter, or a smoothie made with low-fat yogurt. You'll have more energy and be less likely to get the heaves than people running on completely empty stomachs. That said, sometimes puke happens--to us and to others. Just try to avoid hitting other runners or spectators.
 9. Wear sunscreen. It's easy to get carried away with all the other preparations and totally forget the fact that, unless you're expecting to turn in a 2-hour marathon, you're going to be outside for a while. You should be wearing sunscreen anyway, of course, but...yeah. It's disconcerting when you start to salivate, thinking someone near the race course must be having a barbeque--then realize it's the back of your own neck.
10. This is the part where I say--'and last of all, Have Fun!' But yeah, it's true, and it's important. After all, you probably signed up for this race because you enjoy running (that or you're just a masochist, in which case--hey, I don't judge). Get out there and have a good time.

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