I want to talk about something a little more tactical, my four favorite topics: food, fair-weather, fashion, and family.
Until I made the transition to somebody who runs 20-30 miles per week, I didnt really understand the importance of the proper care and feeding of runners. First and foremost is fuel. My best advice is to make sure that you are properly hydrated BEFORE you set out (and bring a bottle of water so that you can rehydrate during your run, particularly if you are training during the summer). You only need to experience running-induced dehydration once to learn your lesson. I like to eat a nice mix of protein and carbs about 1-2 hours before I start running, and bring along some sort of energy snack for the middle of my long runs. The best advice Ive ever received is, “dont ever try something NEW the morning of a race. Stick to what works best for YOU.” Again, its all about finding what works for you and learning to trust your body and your training.
Like most Minnesotans, I love to talk about the weather. Finding a comfortable day to run here is a rare treasure. Fortunately, my long runs have landed on mild days, and on the occasion when I knew the weather would not be my friend, I switched and did my long run on a Friday. Do not underestimate the power of the weather to impact your run. When it is too hot or humid, my body shuts down again, I cannot advise you enough to stay hydrated and dress appropriately.
This brings me to my third topic: fashion. Once your runs become more intense, the importance of apparel changes drastically. The first time I ran in “real” running clothesmoisture-wicking socks, coolmax tank top, and compression shortsI was amazed by how much easier and more comfortable my run was. I didnt feel the need to tug down baggy shorts or wring out my t-shirt.
It took some time for me to get comfortable with the body-skimming styles, but once I did, there was no going back. Because of the high-tech fabric of my clothing, moisture is pulled away from my body, keeping me cooler, drier, and more comfortable.
Finally, ladies, I cannot put enough emphasis on the importance of finding a good, supportive sports bra made of high-tech fabric. This isnt just a matter of cosmeticscomfort and safety are also at play. A properly supportive sports bra can prevent back and skin injury, not to mention make running comfortable enough that you will improve. Obviously, the larger your bust, the more important this isdo some research, taking specific note of bras specifically designed for full-figured and high-impact sports.
Last: the most important kind of support cant be found in any store or on any website. Its the support that waits for you at the finish line, throws arms around your sweat-soaked, exhausted self; it meets you halfway through your long runs with cold water and words of encouragement. It can be found in the form of emails and phone calls, of knowing that people believe in you and are supporting you 1000 percent. If I could find a way to bottle that… Id make a million.