Destination Long Runs

This is the first weekend in awhile that I won’t be taking a long drive for a long run. I’m happy about that, both because I am tired of devoting my entire day to a run, and because I don’t like the environmental impact of driving so much to runs. (Also I have a lease on my car right now, and while I’m 99.99% certain I’m going to buy it when the lease ends, I’m way over my mileage so if I did need to turn it in, I’d owe a bunch of money if this trend continues!)

I’ve learned some very basic, obvious lessons about how to make these runs work for me.

  1. Keep a bag packed with the basics.
    image1 (4)

    Snacks, water, empty bottle (they don’t sell my favorite Powerade flavor in the smaller bottles, so I just refill this one), bug spray, sunscreen, various lubes, clothes, and my GPS watch/HRM, all in one bag and ready to go. It’s a great use for one of the million gift with purchase bags I have.

    I have a bag packed with pre-run and post-run gear all the time. My hydration pack has more supplies in it (TP, mints, gels, etc.), but the bag of basics I can grab for a long drive or a short one and be ready to go right away. Just like a gym bag. Before, I was keeping some stuff in my car, other stuff in my house, and then trying to remember everything each time. Now my car’s a bit less cluttered and I am not running around confused or forgetting important things when I head out.

  2. Fuel up on the drive.
    So obvious. Eat and drink while driving, rather than eating and drinking before departing. I wouldn’t have to say this if I hadn’t made this mistake before, and ended up hungry/bonking on the run. I drink a vanilla Coke and eat an energy bar on the way up north now.
  3. Keep cold drinks and a snack in the car for afterward.
    I freeze a bottle of water completely solid, and even on warm days when I’m gone for hours, there’s still at least a bit of ice left, and it’s refreshing. Packing a cooler could be a good idea, too, but that’s more work than I’d like. Ideally I’d like a snack afterward that’s different from running food (gels and energy bars), but¬†I’m settling for another energy bar right now. A sandwich would be delicious.
  4. Bring a change of clothes.
    One uncomfortable¬†ride home from Schroeder, MN convinced me of that. I couldn’t even clean my glasses. Now I bring a t-shirt and flip-flops. Bringing a towel to sit on is another option, for people who want to protect their car but don’t care about changing clothes.
  5. Time of run > time of drive
    Sorry, fast people, this puts you at a disadvantage. However, a 3 hour round trip for a 2 hour run is environmentally irresponsible and hardly seems worth the effort, besides.

These are all very simple changes, hardly ground-breaking epiphanies, yet they’ve made long run travels a lot easier.

Hand Held Test Drive

I fulfilled one of the items on my summer gear wish list by purchasing a couple of hand-held water bottles.

I bought two UltrAspire hand-held water bottles from the Trail and Ultra Running store at a nice discount. They are having a blowout sale (I think they are shutting down the store and focusing more on content, but I’m not sure) so I bought two of these 20 oz hand-held water bottles for $7.00 apiece + shipping. I did absolutely zero research. They’re sold out now, probably thanks to their regram of my pic. I’m an influencer!

I took one of the bottles out for a test drive yesterday evening. I was running 6 trail miles, which I have done without a water bottle plenty of times, but I wanted to see how I liked it before hauling it along on some grueling 20 miler. (I don’t have any grueling 20 milers on my training calendar at the moment, but they’ll come.) I also was feeling pretty low on energy as my allergies have been bothering me, and I was so tired on Tuesday that I went home and took a nap after work.

I took a full water bottle (which had been sitting full in the fridge since Sunday, since I thought I’d be running Monday… nope… Tuesday… nope) and decided I wouldn’t drink anything til I was three miles in, just so I wouldn’t get sloshy. I didn’t really feel the extra weight, or at least I don’t think I did. I was running incredibly slowly and not even sweating much or feeling out of breath; I couldn’t find a higher mental gear. After the third mile, I took a couple sips of water and it perked me right up again and I was able to start really running and finish strong, sipping every mile or so.

Next time, I won’t run with a full water bottle if I’m going on a medium-length run. I’m not looking at using it for full-on hydration, just to keep my mouth from getting dry. While it wasn’t super heavy, there’s no reason to carry 20 oz of water when I’m going to drink less than 10 during the run itself. On a hotter day I would of course carry more, so I could use it to keep cool.

So hey, after one use, I’m a believer. I could stuff my car keys in the little front pocket (they are on a carabiner so I clipped that to a little loop on the pocket for extra security), and I could easily stuff a snack in there too. I noticed a few drips leaking during the run, so I tightened the lid again and I think that fixed it. I hope. It wasn’t a bad leak, but I don’t want a leak at all.

On a long run or during a trail race, I could bring both and even fill one with some kind of fancy expensive sports drink and one with water, and maybe I could leave the hydration pack at home. I will have to try a two-fisted run one of these days, just to see what it feels like. Maybe on a hot day when I could try out the water/sports drink combo and hopefully not look too dorky carrying two hand held water bottles.

I wouldn’t bring it on a 5K or a race where I really needed to run fast. I think it would be more of an annoyance there. I might bring it to my 5 mile race, I might not. I think it’ll depend on how hot it is and how confident I am that I can run hard for 5 miles without dying. Right now I’m not sure.