Journal

 

Running on the Road COMMENT

running on the road
Well I can safely say this has been way more challenging than I expected.  My Uncle Jack, who is a life long runner, once told me “you own a half-marathon, but a full marathon owns you.”  I have done six half marathons, including training for 4 of them on the road, and I just didn’t believe him. I was so wrong.  Marathon training absolutely owns you.
I am perpetually sore now, and my legs feel like tight little rubber bands.  (Yoga, I miss you!)
But It’s not just the physical challenge that is hard. It’s the planning, the preparation, the hours you spend looking at your tour calendar and trying to mesh that with your training plan, or researching what parts of new cities are safe to run in, or what the weather will be, or where you can buy your next batch of GU and new running shorts.  This has been one of the greatest challenges of my life, but those of you who know me know that I am always up for a new challenge and thrive on the drive it takes to completely it.  That said, I am learning so much about myself and what I can take through this whole process. And I have learned a lot, and maybe some of it can be helpful to you. If you are an obsessed runner as well, or just looking for some road tested tricks for how to stay fit and healthy on the road, here are some things I have learned that I would like to share!
  • Map my run is great – I don’t use this to track my runs but I do look up routes on it anytime I am in a new city and not sure where good places to go are.  By seeing where other people (namely young single females) run, I can tell where is safe to head out.
  • I also follow other runners (like a creep : ) ) to find good places, or just stop and ask for help.  Actually last week while running in Minneapolis I got so lost because of some confusing trail signs, so I flagged down an runner going the other way to ask.  She was so nice that she turned around and ran a mile back with me! The community of runners around the country is just full of the nicest people.
  • What to bring on your long run? Everyone has different preferences, as you will see from reading Runners World but for me what seems to work so far is: Water!!! GU, (I also really like Sport Beans by Jelly Belly), Garmin Watch, Cell phone (for entertainment, and just in case..)
  • I also fully believe that what they say about eating before and after training is so true, and so important!  This is the especially difficult thing to deal with on the road where you eat out all the time and have very little control of what kind of food is available to you.  So, I have started to pay attention days ahead of long runs what I am eating, and being carful to ask in restaurants “can you make this…”  The number of times I have asked, “can I just buy a banana off you” is pretty comical.  I end up relying a lot of protein shakes, and smoothies.  I invested in a small portable smoothy maker so whenever I can buy bananas off restaurants, or scrounge up some fresh fruit I bend it up with some protein for a nice recovery drink.
  • I have also found that hotel receptionists and cooks are generally really helpful and happy to help you out with simple things like toast and coffee in the early morning before breakfast opens. My latest food challenge was trying to cut a banana to put on bread for an early pre-run meal without a knife!  I hilariously found that a straw, flattened and used like a wire between your two hands words pretty well.  Add that to your bag of tricks for travel hacks.
Here are some more questions you asked me to answer:
  • “Being and avid [runner] myself and like to travel around: how do you find neat places to go for runs when it seems you’re at a different city nearly every day?” – Jeff
Well, as I mentioned above there are some great tools like Map My Run. I also spend a lot of time on google maps looking for trails, or even just place where there are sidewalks – In some towns in America it can be unfortunately difficult to find places that are set up for walking/running instead of just driving.  So, I guess the answer is, it is hard. Sometimes, like this morning when I though I had found a trail only to discover that it was an old maintenance path that ends very abruptly at a gravel pit – you just strike out. But most of the time with a little bit of effort and a bit of luck I end up finding nice places to head out with my runners and in my opinion this is the best way to see the country – actually getting outside and exploring.  Perhaps someday I should make a list of all the amazing trails I have found around the country. 
  • “I’m interested in eating healthier. How do you eat healthy when you are on the road?” – JoAnn
This is a difficult questions to answer, and let me first say I am not a nutritionist, just somebody who likes reading and has experimented over the years.  The biggest thing I have learned recently is to be comfortable ordering “off the menu.”  When I say that I mean, ordering something that is not on the prescribed menu the give you, or even just altering dishes that already offer to make them healthier.  Ask what oils they use to cook your food in and opt for olive or coconut instead  of butter or fryer grease. Get all sauces and dressings on the side.  And be creative, if you see some nice ingredients on the menu put together your own meal  “Can I have salmon seared in a pan with whatever fresh vegetables you have today?”  Any decent restaurant should be able to accommodate you, and if they can’t you have learned that they either have no fresh ingredients or nobody who knows how to cook outside of the microwave.  
 
  • “Protein supplements — how do you figure out which one is the right one?”
Again, not a nutritionist, but I think this is simple.  First, look for one that has a high protein content and low carbs and sugars.  The one I use has 24 g protein and 0.7g carbs and 0.4g sugar per serving. A lot of american made proteins are very high in sugar and only have 14-16 g of protein.  After that, it’s just personal preference for taste.  That’s it!
 
Thanks for your love and support as always, I couldn’t do it without all of you who send me good wishes and help me keep going on this crazy quest. Only one month to go!