Staff Blog: Lessons Learned From A Long Run

At least the view was nice during our writer's demanding run that was cut short. Photo: Competitor.com

The moral of this story is to always fuel before a run … and carry some cash.

This past weekend, I learned a huge lesson about running and it ended with me stealing from Starbucks and eating a Sugar in the Raw packet — emphasis on the raw.

We’ve all heard to respect the distance and fuel properly to prepare for long runs, and until Saturday morning, err afternoon, I thought I knew these simple rules of running like the back of my hand.

My plan was to run 14 miles, and I was particularly excited because it would be the longest I’d be on my feet at once in almost two years. Injuries are a pain. I woke up around 8:30 a.m. and then had my coffee and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich like I always do when getting ready for a long run. Around 10 a.m., after I’d had time to digest my breakfast, I started getting ready and realized my Garmin was dead, so I plugged it in and moseyed around the house for an hour or so waiting for it to charge up. Knowing my peanut butter and jelly might not make me through all 14 miles after waiting so long, I grabbed some Chex cereal and munched on that until I left the house.

Out-and-back along the beach for six miles went great. I stopped at my car, ate a gel, drank some water and headed out in the other direction for the remaining eight miles. After a mile or so I started to wonder when my gel would kick in and I’d feel the energy surge I usually get from it. At 8.5 miles it still wasn’t there. At nine miles it was clear there would be no energy surge. I was three long miles from my car and my body was completely out of gas. Not wanting to admit that I waited too long after eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich to run, I slowed from a run, to a jog to a walk — still away from my car, determined to get in the 14 miles I had set out for.

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Finally after a brutally slow one-mile walk, where I was sure everyone was judging me for being the girl who has to walk during her run, I turned around to head back to my car and realized I was a complete dingbat for not turning around at nine miles. I might not even have enough energy to walk the four miles back to my car, I thought.

Without money or a phone, I had few options. Slowly walk the rest of the way? That would take forever and it’s pretty cold out here when I’m not running. Beg one of the restaurants to give me a couple sips of Coke and promise to write a positive Yelp and UrbanSpoon review? I just don’t have the guts to do it. Then it dawned on me — Starbucks was only a few blocks away, and Starbucks has sugar packets out in the open just waiting for fuel-desperate runners.

Walking in, I felt like a desperate thief. My starved mind was going crazy with ridiculous thoughts. “It’s OK. It’s like when Aladdin stole bread because he was starving … I’m not a street rat … stealing is against the law and it’s wrong! It’s just a sugar packet … I buy coffee here all the time. I deserve this sugar packet …”

Grabbing the packet, I kept my eye on the prize and ran out like I had taken the Hope Diamond.

Pouring the sugar into my mouth was utterly disturbing and downright satisfying at the same time. Chewing it definitely sided on the gross side of the yummy to disgusting scale, but desperate times calls for desperate measures.

Thankful for the little brown crystals I shuffled the rest of the way back to my car, sat down in the driver’s seat warmed by the sun and though about how I have never been so happy in my life to keep an “emergency” Clif bar in my glove box, and how I would never do anything like that ever again.

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