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Six Things I Learned on a 14 Mile Run This Morning

I ran 14 miles this morning. That’s not a particularly unusual amount for a distance runner, but it was the longest I’ve run since last summer, and today is the warmest day of the year so far in New Hampshire. As always, the first long run in heat each year is cause for some gentle reminders that things need to be approached differently than in winter. Here are a few lessons I took from this morning’s run:

1. The return of warm weather means the return of road work, and road crews seem to love to play with runners. It seems that every time I come upon a lane closure such that only a single lane is open, the person holding the STOP/SLOW sign loves to turn the SLOW side to face me as I approach. Then they give a little chuckle. Is this a universal thing, or is it just me?

2. My mailman is awesome. Just after passing the road crew I was running up a hill about 3 miles from my house with no tree cover in sight. The sun was blazing overhead. I saw a mail truck approaching up ahead, and it slowed as it came alongside me. A bottle of water emerged from the window, and I saw that it was my mailman Paul. I had a hydration pack on, so I opted not to grab it, but the gesture was much appreciated. There are good people in this world!

3. I should have taken the water from my mailman. I finished the run, and when I got home my rectus abdominis went into a massive cramp. Incredibly painful. I then cramped in the back of my neck, and felt one on the verge of starting in my back as well. This type of generalized cramping in non-running muscles seems to happen to me only on really hot days when I dehydrate (and yes, I know there is a lot of debate about whether dehydration is related to cramping, but this is the pattern I have observed in myself on multiple occasions). I went to the bathroom and saw brown urine (sorry, TMI). I weighed myself and it was clear I had lost a lot of water on the run even though I drained my hydration bladder. This run was a good reminder that I need to approach hydration more wisely now that it’s getting warmer out.

4. Chafing sucks, but lubrication works. This will be cause for a post of its own at some point, but I’ve been dealing with some nasty chafing the past few weeks due to the warmer weather. I remembered to lube my problem spots today and all was well. Must remember to do this on all long runs!

5. You can walk up big hills but still keep your average pace on target. I came down with a stomach bug last Friday, and though I’m pretty much recovered I was still feeling a bit sour when I left the house. I decided to sprinkle in some walk breaks on the bigger uphills, but managed to pick up the pace enough on the flats and downs to keep my average pace for the full 14 right around my target of 8:30/mile. Pretty happy with how it went, and the walk breaks probably also helped with managing the heat.

6. The Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit may be the best Nike Free shoe yet. That’s all for now, stay tuned for more soon!

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. why do you have to tease us with the last line!

  2. Totally with you on the dehydration – I have done enough self-experimentation (i.e. been stupid) to know it is all directly related for me.

    And I have people down the street who always offer me water – and I thank them every time, but it is really either too early or too late at that point :)

  3. I went on a 13.69 run yesterday at an 8:08 pace, and I seemed to have a easier time of it. It was hot and sunny here too. My longest run since a half marathon 3 months ago. No water, one Gu, no cramping. My fitness must be improving, but I’m sure I still can’t match your 5K time, which is annoying :-)

  4. Fred Baldwin says:

    So, what constitutes “hot” in your neck of the woods at this time of year?

    I know it’s relative, but I’m curious nonetheless.

  5. I gave #5 a good test a week ago with a trail 50K I ran at the beginning of the month. I was totally unprepared as I had done only 1 run over 12 miles in the previous 6 months. My usual strategy (ahem) is to run too fast for about 20 miles, and then completely cramp up and limp home. This time however, I did a run-walk strategy (10 minutes running, 1 walking) averaging 9:30 miles on the flat, walking the uphills, and speeding up on the downhills.

    In the end, I crossed the finish line run/walking at the same pace as I started with, and averaged 9:33/mile for the whole race, matching my pace for the flat segments. The seconds I spent slowing down on the hills payed me back in 10s of minutes of saved time over the whole race.

  6. The heat makes a big difference. This week I’ve so far done two very constasting runs heat wise.

    I did a 13 miler first thing in the morning on Sunday in cool conditions. Then yesterday did a 15 hilly miler at the middle of day in sunny/warm conditions.

    My heart rate was average around 10 bpm higher in the second run for a similar pace. I didn’t get dehydrated on either run, as I can’t really claim it’s actually hot here in Scotland yet (I’d guess it peaked around 17 degrees C yesterday.)

    One other change I noticed felt a bit hypoglycaemic on the second run, so I’m pretty sure I was using glucose and glycogen a faster rate when it was warmer.

    Given a few more runs in warmer conditions I’m sure my body will provide the required heat adaptations so I’ll be less effected by the heat. First few runs in warmer weather always seems to knock me back a little, then I come good again.

    • I did another 14 miler this week and it was a bit cooler, and no hydration or cramping issues. Small difference in temperature makes a big difference in how I feel! My approach is always to face heat head on by running mid-day and adapt as quick as possible.

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