Last Sunday, I completed another solo long(ass) run. Now that these long runs are regularly taking around three hours, I’m still kind of blown away that I have been managing to get them done at all. Last year was a great running year for me. I thought maybe this year, running would take a backseat in favour of all the travelling that we planned to do. As it turns out, we’ve managed to fit in both without it feeling like a chore and I’ve been loving it.
If you ever find yourself in the German side of Switzerland with a long run to do, this is the route we did. Mike spent quite a bit of time planning out the route and we both agreed that it is a good one. It starts at a small train station called Gelterkinden, and it takes you along a mix of pretty mountainous scenery (obviously!), cute towns, neighbourhoods, some industrial areas, Roman ruins, rivers, Germany, and ends in Basel, Switzerland. I was nervous about crossing the border into Germany. We brought our passports along with us just in case, but it wasn’t a problem when we entered Germany or when we went back into Switzerland.
In terms of fueling, I’ve been experimenting a little more to see what I can and can’t handle. I’ve had a lot of trouble with this over the last few years. After a few really bad experiences with taking too many gels in the middle of the summer, I got used to doing all of my long runs without taking anything. During the summer, I would take in some water on really hot days, but stayed away from any kind of gel, chew, or jelly bean – but I also never ran more than 25km (~15.5mi). Basically, any type of solid food. I knew I was going to have to start training my stomach to digest gels again, so I’ve been switching back and forth between PowerBar Cola Chews (this was the only brand we could find in Switzerland…). I prefer Honey Stingers and Gu Chomps, but I haven’t been able to find either brand in Switzerland. Sometimes I take GU gels (Salted Caramel is my absolute favourite), but I haven’t been able to find that brand in Switzerland, either, so I’ll be running out of those soon. We arrived in Munich, Germany today, so I’m hoping we can find some GU gels since I know they already work for me.
My coach recommended taking 1 gel every 7km or so on long runs. Personally, that seems like way too much for my stomach to handle, especially for an easier-paced long run. Maybe it would be necessary to keep my energy level up during a race? Instead, I’ve been taking 2 PowerBar cola chews at 7km, 21km, and 28km. I’ve been taking a gel at 14km, roughly halfway through. In terms of calories, that works out to be about 2.5 gels. It still kind of feels like too much for me, but it’s working for me right now considering it’s 100% more than I used to take for long runs.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been slowly increasing my long run distances. I’m trying to revisit some of those scary distances that I haven’t dared touch since 2011. Clearly, I’ve got some major mental barrier issues because I see other people nailing these distances like it’s no big deal on a weekly basis. Me? I’m half convinced my body will fall apart if I try to run anything beyond 25km – even if that includes lots of walking breaks and a relaxed pace. At least, I used to be convinced… but lately, I’ve been realizing that my body is capable of more than I thought. I still don’t know how people run/race marathons, though. Seriously – do people run the whole thing without taking any breaks whatsoever??? I’m hoping to find out, soon. First, I have to get comfortable with some longer distances. I’m working on it..