You Don’t Have to Dread the Long Run (At Least Not As Much!)

The weekend is almost here (YES!) and many of us have long runs planned (BOO!). If you are like me, you the long training run of your marathon plan is not your BFF. It is the thing I dislike most about marathon training. It takes up so much time, you have to plan your whole weekend around it, and you absolutely have to do it or good luck trying to run the 26.2 miles come race day!

During training for my first marathon, I made many mistakes during my long training run days. For instance, I didn’t realize my iPhone wouldn’t last the whole time so I would have to run the last few miles just hearing my exhausted breaths and slow feet and try not to focus on all the pain I was feeling. Also, I didn’t really study the route I was running so I would freak out when I had to use the restroom because I had no idea when the next one would be! Additionally, I didn’t really have a great fuel plan set up prior, so I ended up running out of water or not bringing along enough gels.

My long runs have been much better for the WDW Marathon. Speaking of the WDW Marathon, it's in EIGHT WEEKS! AHHH! Let the panic set in!

My long runs have been much better for the WDW Marathon. Speaking of the WDW Marathon, it’s in EIGHT WEEKS! AHHH! Let the panic set in!

So, for my  Walt Disney Marathon training, I knew I had to change some things up. And even though I still don’t like the long runs on the weekend, they have become a little more bearable. Here are some of my suggestions to make your long run suck just a little less:

1. Audiobooks

The Fever by Megan Abbott is the book I will be finishing up this weekend on my long run. Can't wait to hear how it ends!

The Fever by Megan Abbott is the book I will be finishing up this weekend on my long run. Can’t wait to hear how it ends!

-I work at a library, so I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner. My last few long runs I have been listening to different audiobooks and OMG it has made the time go by so quickly! My tip would be to start the book at least a little beforehand so you know whether you are interested in it or not. Last week I had planned to listen to a new book that was out, and I started it in my car the night before. The narrator’s voice was so distracting that I knew there was no way I could listen to it for over 2 hours! Luckily, I had another one and I enjoyed that one a lot :) You can also start it and then just save the last few hours for your run, it might make you even look forward to going on your run so you can finish the book!

You can purchase audiobooks online, or you can go to your local library and see if they offer e-media. My library does and there are thousands of audiobooks I can download and listen to straight from an app on my phone. It is very convenient and saves me a lot of money!

2. Set out clothes/fuel/everything you need the night before

Study the weather the night before so you know what kind of clothes you should wear. I am still trying to get better at this! But I always set out something so I am not wasting my time in the morning trying to figure out what to wear. The less time you waste before the run, the quicker you will be to being done with it! THIS site from Runner’s World is great for giving you suggestions on what to wear based on the weather conditions expected during your run. Also, set your water bottle (or belt depending on what you prefer) out, along with ALL the fuel you plan to take with you. Make sure you figure out where to store your fuel as well (hopefully your shorts or pants have pockets, if not you need to make another plan like wearing a belt!)

3. Eat the night before like you have a race the next day

omaha pasta dinenr

Pasta is the dinner of choice for many runners the night before they tackle a big run!

Before my long training runs, I eat the types of food I would the night before a half or full marathon. So basically my Friday night (or Saturday night depending on when my long run is) dinners have consisted of a lot of spaghetti and bread lately! I remember during my training for my last marathon I decided to eat pizza and drink some beer the night before a 17 mile run. Let’s just say, this was not a great idea and I paid for it the next day during my run! (Severe stomach cramps!)

4. Know your route

I am lucky to get to see beautiful animals like this one on the trail that I do my long runs on!

I am lucky to get to see beautiful animals like this one on the trail that I do my long training runs on!

Figure out what route you are going to take prior to actual getting out there on the day of your long run and just trying to figure it out. My first few long training runs for the Grandma’s Marathon, I thought I would just go to the park and run around until I reached whatever mileage I was going for. I didn’t know the exact number of loops I had to make or which way would be best to go, and this ended up making me feel very anxious for some reason and added anxiety is never good for running! Then, after I realized I should just find a longer trail to go on, I didn’t study the map of the trail before so I didn’t know where any of the bathrooms were, if there were any water fountains, or how hilly it was. So when I had to go to the bathroom I was in a panic because I didn’t know how long it would take before I would actually run into one!

5. Bring along a GPS watch to track your miles

My Nike+ GPS watch

My Nike+ GPS watch

If you are training for a marathon, I would highly suggest purchasing some sort of GPS running watch to track your miles on. When you get past a certain amount of miles, your phone is probably going to die, so you cannot rely on the GPS tracking on your phone. I have a Nike+ watch that allows me to sync easily to my Nike+ account, and I can just use it to track my miles and then listen to my music/audiobook on my iPhone and not even have to think about my phone dying. Plus, just in case something bad happens during your run, it is very important that you have a working phone with you if you need to call for help.

6. Take it Easy!

There is no reason to rush through your long training runs or feel like you have to go the pace that you want to during the actual marathon. My training plan actually suggests that I go 60-90 seconds per mile slower than I intend to during the race. I usually don’t end up going that slow, but I am getting better at pacing myself throughout the run. Back in the Spring when I was training for my first marathon, I was going at a much too fast pace during my long training runs. Looking back, I feel like this may have burnt me out a bit and made me more tired than I needed to be. my legs would be absolutely dead at the end of the run and I was in pain for the rest of the week! Now, for my last several long runs I have gone at a reasonable pace and if I find myself getting out of breath, I made a conscious effort to slow down. Even though I am sore after, I am not in an intense amount of pain and after some protein and water, I feel like I can do more with the rest of my day.



2014 Recap Part 2

Last week, I recapped my first 6 races of 2014, so today I’m going to recap the final 6 races of 2014.


- I always wanted to run the Chicago 10k and this year with a new job, I was able to finally sign up!  The race had a great tech shirt and a huge medal.  I was super excited to meet a fellow Dopey runner at this race and I really enjoyed how I could do packet pickup the day of the race (I paid $10 to do that… well worth the expense!).  *RECAP*


-My next race was first double racing weekend.  On Saturday, I completed a 5k during the weekend of the Healthy Human Race in Rochester, Minnesota.  I took the 5k exactly the same way I want to take the 5k in Florida in January—nice and slow.  I got a fun medal and my first official 5k race.  *RECAP*

-The day after the 5k was the half marathon, the real reason for making the trip to Minnesota.  I enjoyed the speaker series at the expo—Jeff Galloway and Apolo Ohno—and this was the first race where I was able to walk from the hotel to the start line (great Priceline find).  The half marathon went fairly well except for a huge hill which almost lasted a mile in the middle of the race!  The bling was fun and I’m glad I made this my Minnesota half!  *RECAP*


-My Dopey training called for a half marathon to be done in September and I thought what a better excuse than to do another state?!  After a little research, I decided to do the Omaha Half.  While the organization and elements could have been better (also I had a crazy ordeal with my rental car), I almost had a PR—9 seconds short.  *RECAP*


-When I got my new job in July, I was nervous about all the races I had already registered for.  Ultimately, I was/am able to complete all but one of them!  Detroit was one of the ones that I was able to complete.  The experience crossing into Canada over the bridge and then coming back into the USA in a mile long underwater tunnel was incredible.  The expo was huge, the medal was nice but the weather was very cold (30s).  Crossed another state off the list!  *RECAP*


-My final race of the year was the Hot Chocolate 15k in Chicago.  I always wanted to run this race and I’m glad I finally got to.  The swag and the medal were nice, but this is a one and done deal for me.  The race had over 40,000 people and the corrals, while enforced, were filled with people who were not being honest about their times at all. *RECAP*

2014 was a busy racing year for me!  I’m gearing up for an even busier 2015.  I currently have 9 races that I’m already registered for and that only gets me thru the beginning of May!  I’m expecting summer to be a bit slower and then a few busy weekends in the fall :).



Weekly Recap



Monday, November 10th: Rest day

Tuesday, November 11th:  4.22 miles running (10:40 pace on treadmill)

Wednesday, November 12th: Rest Day

Thursday, November 13th 4.24 miles running (10:36 pace on treadmill)

Friday, November 14th: Rest Day

Saturday, November 15th: 8.5 mile walk outside (14:55 pace for 7.75 miles—then phone died)

Sunday, November 16th: 20 mile run (10:33 pace on TREADMILL—AHH!!)

Well, I did it!!  I completed my first 20 miler on route to the Dopey Challenge in January!  To say I’m getting excited now is an understatement.  The final RunDisney race before Marathon Weekend was held this weekend, so now it’s all excitement towards Marathon Weekend.  I just have seven more weeks of training left.  Two big running weekends are left and both of those weekends, I will be in my hometown, so I’ll be able to run on the Constitution Trail (a great running trail that goes all over the town!).  I’m hoping that Lauren will be willing/able to do on these long runs and walks with me too, so it doesn’t make it so lonely!

As you noticed above, I had to do my 20 mile run on the treadmill.  The original plan was to do the run outdoors, but when I went to bed on Saturday night, it was already snowing and I knew there was a good chance I’d have to do the run indoors.  When I woke up on Sunday, the sidewalks were still snow packed and I decided it was not worth an injury running on potentially slick surfaces.  I’ve come too far to slip, fall, and not be able to do the Dopey Challenge.  The 20 miler on the treadmill was not as horrible as I thought it would be.  I basically did it in hour long segments.  The treadmill only lasts an hour, so I’d run an hour, refill my water bottle and then start up again.  I saw two fellow co-workers during my run too, so that was really encouraging as well and helped break up the time.  Unfortunately, my new garmin that I bought only works outdoors so I had to rely on my phone.  Well, at 17 miles it was just about to die, so I had stop and recharge my phone.  My goal was to complete the run in 4 hours, but I successfully completed it in 3:30:59!  I’m really hoping to do the marathon in about 5 hours (the whole goal is just to finish and be under 16 minute pace) and after today, I only had a 10k left to complete the marathon—which I think I could easily complete in 1 hour and 30 minutes!!  Hopefully my training will continue to go well so I can keep going come marathon day.

This week is much easier—only two 45 minute runs and a 7 mile run on the weekend.  Work is also a bit calmer too and I just need to finish up a few projects before Thanksgiving week (2 day work week for me).

Happy running and stay injury free!



Weekly Recap


Monday, November 10th: Rest Day

Tuesday, November 11th: 21 Day Fix DVD

Wednesday, November 12th: 8 mile run

Thursday, November 13th: 3.45 mile run

Friday, November 14th: 21 Day Fix DVD

Saturday, November 15th: Girls on the Run 5K (Walk/Run 3.11 miles)

Sunday, November 16th: 17 mile run

Winter is definitely here, even though it is still supposed to be Fall! The temperatures dropped significantly this week AND we got snow, so my runs were definitely affected! I pretty much got everything done that I was supposed to, but I am not a happy camper about this change in weather this “early” in the season. But I knew I would have to deal with this since I am training for a marathon held in January!

On Thursday, I was supposed to run 4 miles, but my hands were pretty much frozen about 3 miles in, so I raced back to my apartment as soon as I could so that I didn’t get frostbite! It was awful! I even had two pairs of gloves on, so I upgraded this weekend and bought some thermal gloves (hopefully those will keep me warmer!).

In the middle of the week, I was asked by one of my friends if I could fill in for her and be a “running buddy” for a 12 year old girl in the Girls in the Run 5K held on Saturday. I said yes because I have always wanted to help with that great organization, and I knew I would be running anyways, so why not help a child (and my friend) out? So on Saturday, I braved the cold and headed downtown St. Louis at 7:30AM. I was pretty much frozen, but all in all it was a great experience and I’m happy I was able to participate in the race as a running buddy.

Since it snowed a little on Saturday night and then continued this on Sunday morning, I decided to take my long run inside to the indoor track Sunday morning before work. It was brutal, but I got it done. It is definitely not fun to run so many laps on the indoor track (11 laps = 1 mile), but I have a cold so I didn’t want to make it worse and I didn’t want to risk falling on the snowy sidewalks. I probably looked like a crazy person to the staff there, but they might be seeing more of me if the weather does not cooperate!

I hope everyone has a great week! Stay warm!


Hot Chocolate 15K Chicago Recap

Sunday, November 9th marked my final race in 2014.  I’ve always wanted to run the Hot Chocolate race, but due to scheduling conflicts, I was never able too.  When I found out that I was going to be in town, I immediately put the race on my schedule.  The only bad thing since I’m training for Dopey, my mileage that week was supposed to be very high (day of the race, I was supposed to do 11 more miles!).   I ended up just switching my weeks around and made the 15k race the week I was only supposed to do a six mile long run.

I went to the expo on Saturday morning.  Since I don’t live in Chicago and the expo location is not very public transportation friendly, I just drove from my house to the expo.  Since I knew it was going to be crazy, I left early and got there in no time.  Side note, when I was leaving, the parking lot was crazy…so happy, I’m smart and go to these things early!



Packet pickup was pretty easy.  While I was waiting in line for a free giveaway, I ran into my old high school golf coach.  What a small world—this race has 40,000 people and I ran into her at the expo.  She’s wicked fast and about the size of a twig!

This race prides itself in the swag.  The jacket I received is very nice and super warm!  You can see it on their website!

I ended up getting some gloves and a headband for the race (sadly, my dad lost my headband when I was done with the race…maybe Lauren can get me one in STL?? :) ) since the temperatures were going to be super cold.  Other than that, there were a few other vendors, but I really didn’t need anything, so I left.  But of course, I did get a chocolate marshmallow and a square of chocolate before I left!

The race had a two wave start and I was to start in the second wave starting at 7:45 am.  Lesson learned, I need to start lying on these “huge 5k races”—even though I was in the correct corral for my time that I put down, so many people were not!  It makes races very frustrating for “runners” versus “people who are just doing it for fun”.

Benson family ( minus Lauren) selfie!

Benson family ( minus Lauren) selfie!

They encouraged us to get there at 6:45, so my parents and I left my house at 5 am.  This was the first race that both of my parents were at.  My mom watched Lauren and I race our first half marathon in July 2013, but has not seen me run since.  My dad had never seen me run beforehand.   We ended to the train and were downtown in plenty of time.

At the train station on the way to the race!

At the train station on the way to the race!

When I realized that we were there early, I tried to sneak into an earlier corral, but when I saw the volunteers strictly enforcing corral placements, I just had to be content with starting later.

Grabbed a pic with my mom before the race started!

Grabbed a pic with my mom before the race started!

A little before 8 am, I was off!  My goal for this race was to be around 1:35.  Unfortunately, it was freezing cold (my toes felt like they were frozen solid) and it was a little windy too.  Plus there were tons of people on the course.  I knew that it would be a struggle to reach 1:35.  Plus I knew I had an intense week of running the following week, so I didn’t want to push it too much.

Along the route, there were water stops and sweet stops (strawberry marshmallow, tootsie roll and a chocolate marshmallow too).  I stopped at all the water stops and the first two sweet stops but by the third my stomach was a bit confused and I didn’t want to throw up eating the chocolate marshmallow.

The route was pretty good thru the tunnels of Chicago and then along another scenic route I had never been on.   Honestly, I was just trying to warm up most of the race, so speed was not on my top priority list.

Once I finally made it to the finish (I had to stop twice to tie my shoes (always the same shoe!) and text my parents (which they never got…ugh), I made it to the finish and picked up the bling!  My official time was 1:39:53– not 1:35… but oh well!  Then my parents and I trekked thru the park to get my mug filled with hot chocolate, rice krispie, cookies, pretzels, banana and chocolate to dip my goodies in.  The mug was super messy, so I had to throw it away after I had eaten the goodies.  Besides the mug was made of cheap plastic, so it’s not something that you would really save.


Here are my pros and cons of the race


– Cute medal and awesome jacket!



–Super crowded (40,000 runners)—not ideal “racing”

–5k and 15k started at the same time… probably a big factor in the overcrowding

– Weather—but what can you really do about that?!

–Expo location—sucks not having a convenient location for public transportation

–Expensive—Over $70 for a 15k.  That’s crazy.  I usually spend less than that on a half marathon and that’s 4 more miles!

Will I do the race again?  Probably not.  I’m over having to get up early (I got up about 4:15 to get ready) and deal with crazy crowds downtown Chicago.  The only race I have left that I want to do in Chicago is the Chicago Marathon, which won’t be for a few years.  I might do the Chicago Half eventually, but who knows.

Lauren is running this race in St Louis next month, so it will be interesting to read what she thinks about it!


Sweat 4 Pets 10K Recap


Last Sunday, I ran in the Sweat 4 Pets 10K, at the park right across the street from my apartment. I shared 3 goals in my preview: to PR, to Place, and to Have Fun. Guess what?! I reached all three goals in this race!

All of us participating in this race were so fortunate- it was extremely nice day for St. Louis in November. There were sunny skies and around race time the temperature was in the mid 50′s. It was a perfect day to run!

With this race being right across the street, I was lucky enough to not have to worry about parking or getting there late or too early. I walked over at about 8:30 and then got to the start line at about 10 minutes later. The race started by one of the many pavilions in the park, and around the pavilion there were other racers and many volunteers. There were tables set up with various booths and then a table with all the raffle baskets. The raffle baskets were really cute and had many different themes. Some were dog treats, others were full of books, then there were Christmas decorations, and there was a huge jar full of chocolate! I bought 6 raffle tickets for $5. The drawing was held after the race, but I bought my tickets beforehand so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it after.

There was a lot of confusion which direction the race was going at the start. Runners who had ran it before were pointing one way, and then some of the volunteers were pointing the other way. (It was confusing because the sign said “FINISH” on both sides!) Finally the race director came over and pointed to the correct direction where we would be starting (going uphill, BOO!).

This was a small race, VERY small! And the majority of people seemed to be walking or just doing the 5K. The 5K went in a loop all the way around the park, and then the 10K did that same loop, just twice. I was very familiar with this route because it’s the one I basically do every day that I run.

I started a really fast pace- my first mile was around 7 minutes! After I heard that from my Nike + GPS, I decided to slow down a bit or I knew that I would burn out. So for the first loop (5K) I was around 23:35, and it was a pace I could keep up with a lot better. I tried to just keep it up the second time around and I did pretty well with that. The end sucked because it was uphill, but I saw Justin and Lilli waiting for me (and Lilli literally howling!) and it gave me the extra boost to finish so that I would get to hang out with them.

Almost at the finish line, just have to get up the final hill!

Almost at the finish line, just have to get up the final hill!

I crossed the finish line and then a little past the finish there was a large television screen that posted the live results. I spotted my name and saw the time of 48:16 (my previous 10K PR was 49:56!) and next to my name it said I was first place in my age division! Woo-hoo! I should also let you know, though, that there were only 4 people all together in my age group, but hey, I still won! haha. Altogether, I finished 3rd out of 30 for the women, and 8th out of 43 overall.

With my medal!

With my medal!

This race was a lot of fun and I am so happy I participated in in. It was for an awesome price ($20), a great cause, and I always love racing in my home park.



Recap of 2014 Races (Part 1)

Unfortunately, time slipped away from me last night and I still didn’t finish my Hot Chocolate 15k recap.  I promise, I’ll have it up on Friday!

I know it’s not technically the end of 2014, but it’s the end of my 2014 running year.  Sunday marked my final race of 2014.  If I wasn’t going to Disney in January and I didn’t have to work, I would have totally signed up to run the Rt 66 Half Marathon at the end of November.  It’s on my radar for 2015 :)

I wanted to take this time to briefly recap my 2014 races:

–It all started in January with the Mississippi Blues Half Marathon in Jackson, MS.  I had heard so much about this race and it certainly lived up to the hype!  The medal was awesome, swag great (harmonica, reusable bag, pullover) and overall a great race.  The hills sucked, but the weather was great and I did fairly well.


–After Mississippi, I really wanted to run another half before my big “goal” race (Nike Women’s Half).   After looking around, I thought Little Rock sounded like a great idea.  The drive down was pretty uneventful, but during the race, the weather drastically took a turn for the worst and made getting home a nightmare.  Overall, a great race, awesome organization, big medal and a story to remember (*RECAP* Pt. 1Pt. 2)

–In March, I did my first “repeat” race—the Shamrock Shuffle 8k.  Even though I smashed my previous 8k time, I was overall disappointed in the crowds, t-shirt and expo craziness.  I will not be registering for this race again… remind me of this in 2015 if I even think about it!  (*RECAP*)

–When Lauren and I got into the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Washington DC in December, I was so excited!  After reading that this course was flat, I decided that I wanted this race to be my “goal” race for 2014—to go under 2:20.  It was a great race—great time hanging out with my sister, Phu, Kathryn and Brandon, getting a Tiffany necklace, and smashing my goal!  (*RECAP*)

–Looking for great deals, I signed up for my Wisconsin half marathon on New Years Eve—Summeriest Rock N Sole in Milwaukee.  This was a pretty good race—beautiful landscape, Hoan Bridge, and a decent medal.  I learned a valuable lesson during this race though—I must replace my shoes ever 300-500 miles (I had been wearing the same shoes since November 2013-June 2014—YIKES!) when I started experiencing horrible knee pain about 4 miles into the race.  (*RECAP*).

–I didn’t have any races lined up for July and I made a last minute decision to run a local 10k, the Frontier Days Stampede Run  10K, at my park district.  It was my first 10k in almost a year and it was a “fun” run with a PR.   (*RECAP*)

I’ll recap the final 6 next week and then in December, I’ll reveal the 2015 schedule (currently planned out thru May 2015).