On a warm a Friday evening in July, I took on my first run of over half marathon distance. A 16 mile solo long run. Running on your own for the best part of 3 hours helps you learn. You learn things both about yourself as a runner and the kit you use. Here are 5 things I learnt on my first 16 miler:
1. Solo Running
Running on your own isn’t as boring as you might think. As a new runner, I have always thought running on my own was pretty boring. I can manage 5k without too much bother but anything further and I get pretty bored. That wasn’t the case on this long run. I drifted off into a world of my own, exploring what was around me and letting my mind wander. Admittedly, that was mixed with the inevitable thoughts of “Is it nearly over?” And “Surely I must be done!”. For someone who can’t sit on their own for more than about 30 minutes without getting bored (I’m even worse by a pool on holiday), I impressed and surprised myself in equal measure .
2. Death To The Nipples
Plasters are not sufficient to protect your nipples on a 16 mile sweaty long run. Two words to sum this up: Red Raw. Ouch. I need to find a better solution. Plasters used to do the trick but now seem to slip off a few miles in and then lead to almost unbearable pain. I have seen a few others in the insta running community using 2Toms so I might give that a go!
3. Pick Your Nutrition Wisely
Science in Sports gels are great but the Double Espresso Go Energy + Caffine Gel is disgusting! I like coffee as much as the next chap, if not a little more, but this is revolting. Unfortunately, I had it as my last gel of the run, so I had a good 45 minutes left with the taste lingering in my mouth. No amount of water seemed to take away the taste. I would strongly recommend the Apple and Berry flavoured Isotonic Gels though, I love them!
4. Run – Stop – Run – Stop
Stopping and starting isn’t cheating… or at least not in my book. I have always been a firm believer that I can’t stop or I will never get started again. Fridays run proved me wrong. I intentionally stopped at 5k and 10k. This gave me the chance for a proper drink. I then stopped again at half way (and a few KM later when I found a water stop). Thankfully, I managed to get going again and get back to my previous pace. This surprised me. I no longer have to worry that if I stop it will ruin m my run. This knowledge is runchanging (like life changing but less important in the grand scale of things).
5. How Far?
The final thing I learned is that 16 miles is a really long way. Which isn’t hugely surprising given it’s week 11 of my training plan and was a long run. I’m training for the Berlin Marathon and 16 miles felt hard. I trust my plan and am sure I will get there but 16 miles is still a long way. How people run ultramarathons I don’t know. Those people are officially machines. I never like to say never though so maybe that’s one for a couple of years time.
My next long run is another 16 miles and I hope to not make some of the same mistakes I did this time – to learn from each run and take that knowledge into the next is key for me. As a beginner, I’m still learning on every run. I hope that never changes.