Monday, April 19, 2010

7 tips on running 7 miles

Still smiling after my 7-mile run today!

Ah...7 miles! Finally we're getting to distances that surpass a 10K. Today I want to spend some time sharing my tips for how to successfully run what I call "middle distances" - runs between 7 and 13 miles.

Tip #1: plan your route! To plot a good 7-mile route, you can always use the odometer in your car and hit the neighborhood. However, I prefer mapmyrun, and others like Google Earth. There are also fun apps you use if that's your thing.

Tip #2: safety first! Once I planned my route for today, I made sure to tell my husband of my plans and a rough approximate of when he should expect me back. I also ran with my cell phone on. It's a good idea to run with some form of ID too. You might check out Road ID for easy options if you prefer not to carry your license.

Tip #3: water! Contrary to popular belief, I do NOT think it's a good idea to drink a ton of water just prior to running (unless you want a full bladder, that is). Have a glass an hour or so before your run. Then just sip. I also start carrying water with me when I run distances beyond an hour (which for me is anything more than 6 miles). Today I just carried a water bottle, but some like a camelback style. The idea is to find something that's easy for you to take sips from without having to stop.

Tip #4: dress comfortably. Even if it's chilly out there, be smart. You will soon grow warm and you might regret having layered on that fleece jacket. I personally like to wear long sleeves with shorts on a cool day - and maybe layer my running vest. I also wear an ear warmer, but not a hat. Sometimes I'll add some light gloves that I can shove in a pocket if I need. I also recommend against wearing 100% cotton socks. I often notice this causes blisters (for me anyways). I like using cotton/poly blends. Just look for those running/fitness socks at your store. They'll work.

Tip #5: leave the music at home, or turn it DOWN! Studies have shown that running with music can leave you distracted. Bottom line? I think unless you're on a treadmill, it's unsafe. You may not hear that car approaching - or that bicyclist. What's worse - I've even read that some attackers may look for pedestrians and runners wearing headphones since they're less likely to be on their guard. While many runners swear by "needing to have music," please think again. Or turn that volume WAY down and PAY attention to your surroundings. What do I do without music? Think. Today I came up for the idea for this post while running. I also got some ideas for blogging. Other times, I pray. I often find my best ideas come when I run. I couldn't imagine NOT having this quiet thinking time to enjoy!

Tip #6: break the distance into sections. This is one of my best tips when approaching long distances. Instead of just counting off miles, think of your run as sections. Today there was the section from my house to the gym, the section from the gym to the Walgreens, and the section from the Walgreens to the coffee house that looks like a teapot. Focus on moving through each section. If you find yourself really tiring, break each section into smaller subsections. I use this approach on my marathons too, incidentally.

Tip #7: sprint at the end! It can be SO easy to just fizzle and collapse at the end. Don't! Here's what I want you to do. For EVERY long run you do, dig deep that last .1 - .2 mile and go at your best all-out sprint. I truly believe this will do something wonderful for you mentally as well as physically as you train for those longer distances.

I had someone recently tell me that she can't seem to get past 5 miles. So how do you take it from 5 miles and work to 7? To quote Nike, "Just Do It!" At some point, you have to believe you can, lace up the sneakers, and hit the pavement.

Happy running!