Thursday, September 8, 2011

Long Run Tool Kit

Once upon a time, I used to think that a mile was a long run. It was so bad that I would start sweating at the mere mention of running.

Oh how far I have come since those days – literally and figuratively.

Now a long run means something like double digit miles to me.

And believe it or not, I love the long runs. They’re my favorite part of training. I love the whole eat-lots-of-carbs-before-the-run part, and the-watch-movies-and-go-to-bed-early part, and the run-through-ten-NYC-neighborhoods part, and the run-by-the-rivers-and-bridges part and best of all, the mini I-just-finished-my-long run weekend celebration of brunch.

It’s almost as much fun as go out to dinner and enjoy nice wine and delicious tapas and sleeping in nights. Almost, folks. Almost.

The nice thing about running is that any old fool can do it: no fancy equipment or expensive gym memberships required. Even legs are optional (and I'm not trying to funny on this point, just trying to point out how lame all my old excuses were).

But after some training, it becomes obvious that perhaps a few pieces of special equipment might make the run go just a tad bit smoother. In my world, there are five main things that you need in your long run tool box. Sure you can go without them, but I guarantee that they will make your run easier.

Protection from the elements

Assuming you run long runs outdoors, there are lots of things to deal with like rain and sun and heat and snow and hills and wind and…the list could go on. And running outdoors means that you will commune with nature. Like it or not, there is no glass box to wrap around your body and protect you. If you need that much protection, then get thee butt to the gym.

Sun: Sunblock + sunglasses or a hat. Never forget these!
Rain: Hat, possibly water-proof shell for cooler temps, synthetic socks and gear to prevent chafing
Wind: Windproof shell for cooler temps
Snow: Water and wind proof outer layer, plus cold gear
Cold: Sweat wicking (no cotton!) layers, with a wind proof outer layer if necessary
Heat & humidity: Sweat wicking clothing for close fitting gear


Before-before: The night/day before eat easily digestible carbs – this doesn’t mean only grains - fruits and vegetables count too. I like to cap off my nights with some sorbet or a yummy cupcake. (I stay away from really heavy or dairy dishes like ice cream and cheese cake.)

Before: A meal of simple carbohydrates. I like a banana and/or one of the Thrive gels.

During: Water, water, water! Plus either Gatorade or some simple sugars – try the energy gels, energy blocks, honey packets, jelly beans, gummy bears, dates. I go for honey (Whole Foods cafes have them!) and energy gels.

Within 30 minutes after: A meal of mostly carbs, plus minimal fat and protein.

Within 1.5 hours after: A hearty meal filled with protein, fat and carbs. A bloody mary is optional.

Running Outfit

The basic outfit is: running shorts, shirt, running socks and for ladies, a sports bra. Anything that is fitted should be made of a synthetic sweat wicking fabric.

You can get creative with the tops, that shirt that says ‘Seniors 2001’ is perfect, but I really suggest that you wear specialty shorts. Running shorts are super light even when drenched in sweat and they allow the greatest amount of unrestricted movement.

Since I wear running shorts with the underwear built in, I don’t wear underwear. Oh, you didn’t want to know that?

Protection against Friction

In running, there will be friction. Body parts might rub against other body parts or against clothing. Sounds a little dirty, right? Actually, try more like painful. Chafing sucks, and most any long distance runner will experience it at some point. My sports bras cause chafing under my arms. It’s not pleasant.

To prevent chafing, wear synthetic sweat wicking clothing. However, this is not a guarantee. If you find that you are chafing, apply body glide or Vaseline to the affected areas prior to your run.

To prevent blisters, make sure you have the right sized shoes. They should be ½ to 1 ½ sizes bigger than what you normally wear. Feet swell when running. Also, invest in sport socks. I’m sure you will be surprised to know that the socks should be made out of synthetic sweat wicking materials. Cotton is the enemy when running.

Safety first

I know you don’t want to think about it, but during a run it’s possible that you might get injured or sick and be unable to help your self – carry identification with you and emergency contact information.

I also always run with either my credit card or $20.00 and sometimes a Metro card. You never know when it might start hailing and you need to head home early.

I don’t run with my cell phone, but that’s an option. Particularily if you don’t live in a city and can’t hail a cab to take you home in the rare instance that you might need to abort your run.

Bonus Item!

It’s totally not mandatory, but definitely very fun. Music! My runs just don’t exist without music. As evidenced from my weekly Music Monday posts. If music isn’t your cup of tea, maybe a pod cast, the good old radio, an audio book or even a running buddy.

NOTE: All pictures are from Wikipedia's picture database.


  1. I'm a total novice with running so these tips are great! I'm not sure if I'll ever be a long distance runner, but I'd like to try!

    Gotta aim high, right??

  2. Heck yeah! I used to not be a runner too and now here I am writing a blog about it. haha