If Life is our Greatest Teacher... then Running in the Summer is the nasty teacher that no one EVER likes even though there is a lot of learning going on...
We ran our first 20 of the training cycle this weekend. There were some lessons learned.
Be Impulsive & Listen to your Gut. If you check the weather the night before and see it's going to be hotter than it's been for a few weeks, call everyone and move the run 30 minutes earlier. I didn't do that, even though it crossed my mind the night before the run. What a huge game changer 30 minutes would have been. It was 74 degrees with 93% humidity at the start, and 86 degrees with 61% humidity when we finished... that's "Feels Like 90" when we finished. No wonder I felt so craptastic.
Respect the Distance. 20 miles is a long way, even if you break it into 2 x 10 mile loops. Even if you break them down into 2 x 5. While breaking down the run into smaller bites is a good idea, it's important to remember that 20 miles is still 20 miles.
Stage Right. If you're running "unsupported" staging Gatorade/Powerade/Perform/NUUN will seem like a GENIUS idea. My take home from this run was don't forget that GU (that's G.U.) will taste better and sit better with water, and water in the middle of the country-side can be a bit hard to find. By the end of the run my stomach was rolling. Next 20 there will be at least 8 oz of water at every stop.
Routing is crucial. I wasn't terribly displeased with my routes, but I would have run the two loops in reverse order if I had thought about the position of the sun when we hit mile 15. Hot and Shady is not the same experience as Hot and NO SHADE TO BE FOUND FOR MILES. See above note about a 30 minute earlier start time.
Routing is crucial part deux. I routed us past a Fire Station. That was not an accident. I will always do that in the future. Thankful for Henrico's finest who kindly gave us some ice water when we were nothing but hot sweaty dehydrated messes at mile 17.
Bring your Exit Buddy. The biggest thing I can say about running 20 miles is to rally as many runners as you possibly can to form a posse. Even if some of the runners can only join for part of the joy and some of the misery. We started as 5 this morning, and that shared energy carried us through the run even when it was hot and we wanted to quit. If one is having an off day, in our group there will always be someone who hangs back and nurses the person along, or loops back to pick her up, or who runs the last mile + much faster than she thought she could because she was encouraged by her peers.
Every run is a lesson, and this week I brought home a lot of 'Needs Improvement'. That's OK. There's always next time.
~savor the run~