Heading Into Week 11: On Gear, Gels, and Running 12 Miles

Happy Easter weekend all yinz readers! I spent Easter Sunday successfully completing my last long run — 12 miles!! After I hit the wall last weekend, yesterday’s success felt all the more exhilarating, and it marked the first time I actually thought to myself, “Hey self, I can physically run the 13.1 miles of the UPMC Health Plan Half Marathon.” And my brain responded, “Good to know.” (My brain is practical like that)

My dad and I after 12 miles! (pretty adorable if I do say so myself.)

My dad and I after 12 miles! (and a touch of Daddy-Daughter cuteness)

With two weeks left to the race and the hardest part of training behind me — we’re tapering the next two weeks — here’s a look back at last week and the week ahead.

Planned Schedule
Monday: Day of Rest
Tuesday: Boot Camp
Wednesday: Boot Camp
Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: 3 miles
Saturday: Day of Rest
Sunday: 12 mile run with my dad

Actual Schedule
Monday: Day of Rest
Tuesday: Boot Camp
Wednesday: Yoga
Thursday: 2 miles
Friday: 4 miles
Saturday: Day of Rest
Sunday: 12 miles

Though I swapped out one boot camp for a yoga (my aching muscles thanked me), I really stuck to my schedule this week. And for me, this was one of those weeks that really epitomized what training is all about: putting in the time even when you don’t want to.

My family traveled to Deep Creek Lake (pictured below) Thursday evening to Saturday afternoon, so I woke up early Thursday morning to run at home and ran in Deep Creek on Friday instead of opting to lounge and read (which we all know was a much more suitable alternative).

Though the views at Deep Creek Lake Maryland are gorgeous (this was not taking whilst running for those of you keeping score at home).

The views at Deep Creek Lake Maryland are gorgeous (this was not taken whilst running for those of you keeping score at home).

Then I arrived home Saturday afternoon, performed in a show Saturday night, and while everyone else drank and hung out, I stuck to water (who’s the fun kid? this water-gulping nerd) and while others went out, I went home to sleep before waking up at 6:45 a.m. on a Sunday (ew. gross. never again. mornings are the worst.) in order to run closer to the 7 a.m. race time.

So to all those out there looking to train, know this: training is a sacrifice and a challenge, but it’s also one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in a long while — I am stronger than I’ve ever been in my life and I’ve run more consecutively than I ever thought possible. How amazing is that? (#worthit)

Next Week’s Schedule

Monday: Day of Rest
Tuesday: Boot Camp
Wednesday: 3 miles
Thursday: Boot Camp
Friday: 2 miles
Saturday: Day of Rest
Sunday: 7 mile run

This is the first week of tapering for me. For those of you who are unfamiliar with running vernacular (as I was until very recently), tapering occurs in the last few weeks before the race when you cut down on your work outs and long runs in order to rest up for race day. Marathoners have been tapering for several weeks, but for half marathoners, like me, you typically hit your peak two weekends before (this weekend for me), then taper down 30% two weeks before, then really slow down the week before the race.

Look how happy I am to complete 12 miles (and taper away this week).

Look how happy I am to complete 12 miles (and taper away this week).

Topic of the Week: Gear


When I was preparing to train for the half, I spent a lot of time hemming and hawing over what gear I did and did not need. Here’s where I netted out from toe to head (it’s seems far more logical than head to toe, doesn’t it?). Also, just for the record, none of these company’s paid me to write about these products, I just love them:

Feet: I sport the Brooks GTS Adrenaline 14 running shoes— they cost a whopping $139 (yikes) — but all those who follow the blog know I really struggled to find the right pair of shoes (these are my third pair), and I am madly in love with these supportive, guide shoes. Amazingly, the people at True Runner in Shadyside let me trade in my shoes (from another store) that weren’t working for me. Customer service wins every time. I also discovered that insoles were not for me, even though I’m a knock-kneed runner.

For long runs, I don quality running socks — I have two pairs of regular Feetures and one pair of wool Feetures socks. I cannot speak highly enough of the wool socks (Wool running socks? Who even knew there was such a thing?). They were a lifesaver on cold long runs. But for those of you looking to invest in socks, for my 12 weeks of training, I only needed 3 pairs.

Me and my shoes (and some weird salt on the ground because it's Pittsburgh)

Me and my shoes (and some weird salt on the ground because it’s Pittsburgh)

Legs: I own one pair of Under Armour running tights … that I have had since high school. That’s right folks, one pair. These bad boys and I rock out on the regular. I also own several pairs of running shorts and running capris (I have no particular brand to recommend). Caution: Running pants are the only place I’ve wasted money. I purchased a $60 pair of fleece-lined running pants. Presumably, I bought these with the assumption that I would don these for cold temperature runs. But, let me tell you, if it was cold enough to pull out the fleece-lined pants, I went running for the treadmill. So unless you live in a tundra, don’t waste your money on fleece-lined, and don’t invest in dozens of pairs of running tights (just wash them regularly — I beg of you).

Tops: I won’t go into undergarments, because, ew, it’s the internet (though I did, in the making of this post, discover the term “runderpants,” which I think is just hilarious). But anyways, I’ll just skip ahead to tops. I wear dry-fit, non-cotton t-shirts and long-sleeve shirts. I have one Columbia omni-heat long-sleeve shirt (you know, the kind with the silver dots that hold in warmth). But the best purchase I’ve ever made on any piece of running clothing is my beloved hooded fleece/sweatshirt/top layer from Saucony. I wear it multiple times a week. You can zip up the hood to warm your head, and BONUS, you can poke your thumbs out of the sleeves and pull part of the sleeve over your hands for built-in mittens (let me repeat that: built. in. mittens.) Worth every cent of the near $70 I shelled out for it. Here I am with my top layer, if you follow the blog, you’ll recognize it from every other blog post on this entire site.

Me and my sweatshirt. And also Deep Creek. But mostly me and the sweatshirt.

Me and my fleece. And also Deep Creek. But mostly me and the fleece.


Top of my head: I just purchased a mesh running hat for $10, and I’m madly in love with it and highly recommend it. My dad can run with shades and a hat (how do the shades stay on when he bounces around, I ask you?), but I am a fan of my new hat (sans shades) and ran with it for my 12 mile run to test it out for race day. Pro tip: You should never wear new clothes on race day, because you never know what will chafe, what will feel weird, and what ensemble is just plain unlucky (not that I believe in that sort of thing, but I mean, look at that fleece!).

Gels: I’m new to the gel world. I tried out liquid gels on my fail of a 9-mile run last week, and they bothered my stomach, so I switched to Honey Stinger chews this week and LOVE them (pink lemonade forever). It’s like I get a gummy reward every mile (you pop one per mile). The chews do the same things as the gels (boost my glucose and carbs to give me energy), but the chews are easier on my stomach and taste a bazillion times better (no exaggeration, it’s really a bazillion).

So what I’m telling you, intrepid readers who have made it this far, is that you don’t need that much gear to run at a high level. Yes, you need to invest in a few quality pieces, but quality is far more important than quantity. And most importantly, you need to find what works for you, and what doesn’t work for your body. A lot of what I’ve learned from training is how to be totally aware of my body — how are my ankles feeling? how is my digestive system? where am I mentally? If some piece of gear, or even some piece of advice, doesn’t work for your training, discard it, and run on. It’s always best to run with a lighter load anyway (see what I did there?).

Veteran runners: What piece of running gear are you absolutely in love with? New runners: what gear do you have questions about?

Thanks for reading the blog, and I’ll check in with you next week (when I will be in pre-race JITTER FREAK OUT mode).

Your partner in running,


3 thoughts on “Heading Into Week 11: On Gear, Gels, and Running 12 Miles

  1. I own a bazillion pairs of running tights but only because I wear them as REGULAR rights under dresses and for performing. I also have approx. 10 thousand pairs of bike shorts, even though I don’t own a bike, for the same reason. I don’t know why we all stop wearing shorts under dresses after elementary school. 😦

    Also, GO YOU!

    • Hahaha thanks Jasmine!!! And wearing running tights under skirts sounds like a marvelous plan. Perhaps, together, we can devise a way to bring back bike shorts/running tights under skirts. We can start a REVOLUTION! The good kind of revolution, that is.

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