Going out on a short run is easy. Throw on your running clothes and shoes, slap on the Road ID, the heart rate monitor and decide whether it will be a quiet or rock ‘n roll run. The long run…that takes a little more planning. As I start picking up my mileage (last weekend we did 12 miles), I decided to great a checklist of my long run items.
Here are my 12 long run essentials, plus a few honorable mentions:
1. A good sports bra: The longer I run, the more certain elements of some of my sports bras start bothering me. One of them gets too soggy, the other cuts into my shoulders and yet another interferes with my heart rate strap. None of those bras will be sharing the road with me on my future long runs. A good long run sports bra is comfy, sweat absorbing and functional! While the one in the picture (Colosseum Sweet Pocket Bra) isn’t the best at sweat absorbing, I like it, because has a pocket for my ID/credit cards and/or iPhone! What’s your favorite long run bra?
2. Comfy Running Pants: I’m gonna be honest, I cannot run in shorts because my thunder thighs will chafe, so the solution for me is tights and these Sugoi Compression pants are by far my favorite. They’re not cheap, but they are so worth it! They also come in an ankle length, which is perfect for the winter!
3. Running Shoes: Kind of an obvious one, but the point is, you can’t just run in any old running shoe. Well, you could, but I don’t recommend it, because that’s the easiest way to get injured. The most important thing is to make sure you are in the right fit. While you can train yourself to run in lower support shoes, I wouldn’t start that on your long runs. Your best bet is to get fitted at a running store, meaning they’ll measure you and typically also watch you run on a treadmill with various pairs of shoes and you can run with them to see what it feels like.
4. Socks: The further you’re going, the more important it gets to have good socks. My favorites are the Feetures! socks. I ran 11 miles in some other socks recently and they just did not cut it. I’ve also heard great things about Swiftwick. If any of you have recommendations, send them my way!
5. Anti-chafe: In 2011 I ran the More Magazine | Fitness Magazine Half Marathon in New York’s Central Park. It was an amazing run, but the shower after was horrible. I had chafed in places I did not think you could chafe. Ever since I am avid user of BodyGlide or RunGuard. I use that stuff anywhere I think I might chafe or have chafed in the past. Wondering where to use it and don’t want to have to go through the same pain I have? Sports bra straps on my shoulder, sports bra strap around my chest, my arms right below armpits when I run with a tank top, elastic waistband (think hip bones, lower back), and if I do wear shorts, definitely on the inner thighs too.
6. Hydration: I think the way you choose to carry your hydration is personal. I’ve seen loads of great options and used to run with a fuel belt, but I was never happy with how much it bounced around on my hips. I love my Hydrapak Avila! It’s light, so that the only added weight is the water and while you do hear the water sloshing around, it’s a great way to carry your hydration on a long run!
7. Nutrition: Whether it’s energy gels, blocks, beans, and chews, you need to bring nutrition with you. Most of these products are high in carbohydrates and electrolytes, which you need, so you can fuel your muscles, keep your blood sugar levels steady, avoid dehydration and cramping. Water alone is not enough to avoid dehydration, you also need to replenish your electrolytes and salt levels (drinking only water, can actually be dangerous because it can cause hyponatremia).
8. Fuelbelt: How do you carry all of the nutrition? The fuel belt in the picture holds a bunch of energy gels and has a pocket for salt tablets and more. I highly recommend if you’re training over an hour, you start practicing your race day nutrition strategy. Don’t just plan on eating what’s on the course, because GI distress on race day is a real thing and you don’t want to deal with it! Practice your strategy early to make sure your body is used to it and can handle it. Another good piece of advice I was recently given is to consider, especially for marathon, half and full ironman races, that once you start with caffeine based products, you should stick to them so you don’t crash.
9. Watch (and heart rate monitor): When I purchased my new bike, I decided to also splurge and get a Garmin. If you’re a triathlete, I highly recommend the Garmin 910XT. DC Rainmaker is a great place to read up on tech. Here’s his 910XT review. I’ve also used the Nike, Strava and Pearsports apps for timing, pacing and HR monitoring.
10. Road ID: If you don’t have a Road ID yet, consider getting one. I think there are a few brands out there, but I use the Original Road ID. I like that they have a few options including a wristband, shoe ID and shoe pouch. If you’ve never heard of a Road ID, it’s a quick way for someone to access your information in case of an emergency, i.e. you pass out or get hit by a car. Hopefully it’ll never happen to you, but if it does, a Road ID might help save your life. I hear they have a cool phone app too.
11. Sunglasses: Not much to say here except that happy, protected eyes equals happier me on long runs. Sometimes I’ll also wear a hat or visor, but definitely always the sunglasses.
12. Sunblock: I used to skip putting on sunblock, but skin cancer is a very real concern for endurance athletes, so now I spray on SPF 30 or 50 whenever I head out on long runs or rides.
I’ll also give an honorable mention to insect repellent, which I am not a fan off, but tend to use in the Summer when the mosquitoes are out in full force. During short runs when I am always running, they don’t bother me, but for ironman training our long runs are on a run/walk schedule and those mosquitoes know how to find me when I’m walking!!
This list of essentials is also my Running Race Day Checklist, minus the Hydrapack, although that depends on the race. If I know the race is notorious for bad aid stations, I will definitely wear my Hydrapak.
If you’re running at night, you can swap the sunglasses and sunblock for the foot light and armband light, which will help make you visible to drivers.
And in the cold, you can swap out the insect repellent for these fantastic Halo headband earphones. Earphones and headphones in one? Yes, please!
I know this list is by no means exhaustive, so please some of your favorites!