Finding out what twenty miles can do to a person with Laura Romeo

Poppy Sports Blogger Laura Romeo takes on 20 miles and gains many more miles of confidence

Training the mind as well as the legs

Arguably, the most important training run for a marathoner comes in the form of 20 miles. While the shorter runs are equally important to work on speed or to improve your strength on hills, a 20 mile run covers most of the distance of a marathon and its value is hard to substitute. Not only does running 20 miles prepare you physically, it prepares you mentally.

I had my first 20 mile run of the season on August 27th. I was nervous because it had been close to two years since I ran that far. My day started early at 4:20 a.m., well before sunrise. I met up with a few other runners who were equally driven to start early, and my 20 miler began promptly at 5:00 a.m. with a flashlight for the dark and sunglasses on my head for when the sun rose. I carried 20 ounces of water on my waist and a pack of Clif Shots for fuel. I ate one shot before the run for some simple carbs.

The first eight miles flew by. I ate another Clif shot after that eight and stopped to walk and chew on them periodically if my stomach panged with hunger. What a difference that made in my energy! I felt great all the way through mile 16. After that, I started to feel tired, but not so fatigued that I couldn’t finish strong. I finished this monumental run in 3:40:03. (To put this time in perspective, my 20 mile run two years ago for my first marathon was just over 4 hours.) I was euphoric and it was a real confidence boost. I believe now that I will finish this second marathon in about 5 hours, if I’m careful. This will shave 45 minutes from my first marathon finishing time, which is an enormous accomplishment. This isn’t a fast pace, but that’s not what I’m after. I’m looking for improvement from my first race and I know now I’ll be able to do it. The race isn’t until the end of October, so I still have plenty of time for at least two more 20 mile runs – or more. (I’m thinking 22…)

Marathon training with clif bloks

Not only yummy, they do exactly as it says on the packet. Thanks Clif Bloks

I attribute my success to several factors. First, I didn’t usually eat anything for long runs the first time I did this whole marathon thing. Consequently, I felt tired early into a run, likely depleting any stores of glycogen my body might have had left. The long runs felt especially long. So, eating those little shots while on the move helped tremendously. Second, I ran with two other ladies and conversation makes the miles seem a little less strenuous. Third, my personal trainer has helped improve my strength, and stronger muscles means a stronger runner.

While I have completed a marathon before, I never felt like I earned the title “marathoner” because it took me so long to finish. I learned my lessons the hard way with a particularly difficult first marathon. I worked through some staggering motivational issues. With all the running I did (I did nothing else at the time; not even cross-training), I didn’t want to run at all. I was tired of it. I felt like I wasn’t worthy to train for a marathon, let alone finish one. A 14 mile run back then was agonizing and I hated every mile. You could say I ran into a month-long “wall.” So, I took some time off after my first marathon. I didn’t run for a while, and when I could no longer ignore the calling, I took it easy. Running and I had to re-build our relationship, and that break was well worth it.

Now? I’m registered to run one of the most popular marathons in the country, at sea level no less, and I can’t wait.

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LEG LUBE

Another product we love at Poppy Sports

Review by Laura Romeo—reluctant shaver and fast runner

Shaving for Cyclists

A bead is all you need!

Let me preface this review of Leg Lube by saying that I hate shaving. I always have and probably always will. I stopped using shaving cream several years ago because it was too messy, even though the result was smoother legs. I shaved in the shower using only water, and while my legs weren’t as smooth, it got the job done. I even tried those no-shave creams, and I hated those just as much because they had an awful scent. So, when I say that Leg Lube has helped me not dread shaving, that’s a good thing.

Owner Austin Baskett created Leg Lube as a triathlete who wanted a better product but didn’t see one on the market. Leg Lube is better than your average shave gel, and the fresh scent of mint and aloe is aromatherapy in the shower. It’s slick, easy, and you don’t need to use very much.

Leg Lube for fast legs

A quicker shave means more time to run!

The directions say you only need one “bead,” and admittedly I was dubious it wouldn’t be enough. I expected this gel to be like the rest; foamy and messy. I was pleasantly surprised. One bead was enough, and it wasn’t foamy at all. (Of course, you can use more if you need to, but I doubt you will.) It’s a clear gel that provides just enough lubrication on your skin that your razor glides along without leaving behind any nicks or cuts. I’m infamous for cutting myself right above my Achilles tendon, but not so when I used Leg Lube.

I first tried the gel in the shower. When compared to my normal shaving habit of only using water, Leg Lube made the process go much faster and with a much better result. The next time I hopped in the shower, I found that I wanted to shave – which is something I have never said. This gel leaves my legs feeling smooth and soft, and I’m unabashed to show them off in short running shorts.

One thing I rarely did was use traditional shave cream outside of the shower, because I hated the time it took to rinse that foamy stuff off the razor before the next stroke. While using Leg Lube still took more time outside the shower than in, the result was the same. I only needed gel the size of a pea, and I had no pesky cuts anywhere.

My only caveat with this product is that I had no accompanying Leg Lube lotion or cream for after shaving. I would love lotion with the same eucalyptus and aloe, since living in Colorado’s semi-arid climate can easily dry out one’s skin. And if it were made by Leg Lube, I know I’d be getting the same quality product.

While I can’t really say that shaving with Leg Lube made me run any faster, it made for softer skin and fewer cuts. I’d recommend to any athlete, or to just about anyone looking for a better way to shave.

Editor’s note: We hope the brains at Leg Lube will think about an accompanying lotion or cream for after the shave.  Great suggestion Laura!

by Laura Romeo, our marathon-bound blogger

While I’m no official marathon training coach, I like to think I know a thing or two about training for races, especially the longer ones. I can safely say that I’m doing much better this time than the last time I trained for a marathon. So, if you’re preparing to run that daunting 26.2-mile race, here are my personal marathon training tips:

  1. Get a good pair of shoes. Ok, so this is kind of a no-brainer, but I can’t stress it enough. Good shoes are important for comfort, but the wrong shoes increase your chances of injury. Your feet will be happier in quality shoes.
  2. Start off easy. Don’t get overzealous in the beginning. Give yourself time; the mileage will come. Be kind to your running self.
  3. Hydrate. You’re not invincible. Chances are you’re already a little dehydrated if you’re thirsty during your run. Drink water for the first hour of running, then supplement after that with a sports drink; something with electrolytes and sodium.
  4. Fuel up. I know it’s hard sometimes to eat before a run, but if it’s going to be a long one, eat something anyway. Your body will thank you for it. Bring something with you to munch on just in case. Hard candy can be good for the simple carbs, or go for a gel if you can stomach it (I can’t). I find that a granola bar does the trick.
  5. Find new and different places to run. Avoid running in the same park where you go in circles for 20 miles (like I did for my first marathon), even if it’s your favorite park. It’s boring and uninspiring. Explore some new paths; you never know where you’ll find yourself.
  6. Surround yourself with support. Whether it comes from family, friends, a spouse or all of the above, make sure you know people who are ready to accept your strange tan lines, collection of water bottles, and your million pairs of running socks. They will say you can keep going when you think you can’t.
  7. Have fun! If you hate running, then you probably shouldn’t be preparing for a marathon. It will be 26.2 miles of misery. But if you’re obsessed with racing like I am (even a little bit), run while you can and enjoy the gift of two legs that can carry you over great distances.

Running a marathon takes some serious guts, determination, and dedication. When you reach that finish line and everything hurts, you can say, “I finished a marathon,” something no one can take away from you. So get out there and run!