Checklists are a big help in life. I would be a gigantic failure at suburban motherhood without checklists. My family-related checklists are comprised of limitless branches of related lists, without which I would be a giant ball of stress. Some people have obviously figured out how to reign all of that in – mentally and invisibly, but for the rest of us, it can be helpful to write things down (or type them). I like knowing that I don’t have to think about it once it’s been written down. It just takes away a layer of unnecessary stress.
Once I get into the last month or so of marathon training, the long run distances called for on the training plan start to get mentally intimidating, and I find myself anticipating everything that might go wrong for at least a day or two before the planned run. I used to let my anxiety take over, but it turns out that isn’t helpful. Imagine that.
Instead, I have a Long Run Checklist. Since I created the checklist with a clear and calm mind, I know that I just have to follow it and everything will be fine. I have found this to be a big help in dealing with the anxiety that crops up in the face of going out for what feels borderline impossible at the beginning.
What’s to worry about? With a four-hour run ahead of me, there are quite a few things: phone battery, warmth, nutrition, hydration, etc. I’m sure every runner has specific things that can make or break their run. Here’s my list:
- Charge batteries: phone, gps watch, wireless headphones, iPad (if the long run is on the treadmill)
- Clothes: make sure all the critical layers and pieces have been located and are clean and dry. For a run under 25 degrees, add layers, gloves, and toe warmers.
- Fuel and Hydration: once you’ve figured out what works for you, make sure you have it ready for your run. I plan on a water bottle with Nuun and about a gu per hour. I carry them in a Nathan fuel belt.
- Protection: this can vary, but generally includes weather-appropriate hat, sunglasses, Body Glide, a $5 bill, identification bracelet.
- Entertainment: Even running outside can leave a girl craving something more for entertainment over the course of 20 miles. I made the mistake – ONCE – of skipping the entertainment prep. 6 miles into a half-marathon and the babbling chatterbox inside my head wouldn’t shut up about the lame music and how b-o-r-i-n-g it is to run forever in silence. I was so distracted the whole time that it ruined a good part of the race. Now, I make sure I have podcasts and audiobooks and music lined up in advance, so I can quickly switch if I need to.
- Plan: the final item on my long run checklist is to map out roughly where I’ll be and tell someone (usually my husband).
So, that’s basically it. Having a plan makes it a teensy bit easier to finish those long runs every week. Now I’m off to cover my 21 miles.
Keep on moving!