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Essential kit for long-distance running

14:24 13th May 2013 by John Stevenson
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Image by Gore-Tex

Image by Gore-Tex

What gear to you need to take with you so you can cope if anything goes wrong on a long-distance run? Just what is long-distance anyway? Ultra-runner Helen Bennett has some answers.

If I’m heading out for a long run, there’s a small but vital collection of kit I make sure I have with me. A long run isn’t necessarily a matter of distance. For some people five miles might as well be a marathon, while others think nothing of heading out to the trails and running for four or five hours or more.

For me, a long run is any distance where walking back to the car or house would be a major slog if anything went wrong. You therefore need a certain amount of safety or insurance equipment.

1) Water

Image by Flickr user E>mar

Image by Flickr user E>mar

Dehydration is the first thing that will cause tiredness, making your gait lazy and creating the potential for injury. Drink when you’re thirsty (preferably before) and if you can’t carry enough, factor in shops or stops.

2) Energy

Image by Flickr user su-lin

Image by Flickr user su-lin

In whatever form you can stomach. The most important thing is to be able to take it on board. It’s no good buying the latest scientifically-proven gels if you don’t like them or can’t digest them. I like jam sandwiches. Simples.

3) Navigation

Image by Flickr user PaRaP

Image by Flickr user PaRaP

Either map and compass, GPS or previous knowledge. Getting lost two thirds into a long run will destroy you mentally and can also be dangerous if you are in a remote location out on the hills or trails.

4) Phone

Image by Flickr user mbsurf

Image by Flickr user mbsurf

Terribly 21 century and old timers may scoff but a fully charged phone with credit will get you out of almost any situation, as long as you have signal up that mountain.

5) Cash

Image by Flickr user Rogue Soul

Image by Flickr user Rogue Soul

A note and a coin, £1 and £10 or £20. For emergencies only. Taxis, pay phone, water, pub lunch… just don’t get too much change!

6) Vaseline

Image by Flickr user Leo Reynolds

Image by Flickr user Leo Reynolds

Chaffing can be utter misery, especially if you know you’ve got hours to go and no amount of adjusting will help.

7) Compeed

Image by Flickr user Tartanna

Image by Flickr user Tartanna

For blisters. See above.

8) Painkillers

Image by Flickr user comedy_nose

Image by Flickr user comedy_nose

This is a hard one to recommend. I believe you should always listen to your body. If it hurts, it hurts for a reason and you should stop. However if it’s all gone wrong and you need to spend two hours getting back to base a little paracetamol can go a long way.

9) Clothes

Armwarmers create happiness. Image by Flickr user JustTooLazy

Armwarmers create happiness. Image by Flickr user JustTooLazy

Spare clothing appropriate for the forecast and terrain. It might be warm at 10am, but what will it be doing at 2pm? It might be dry in the valley, but what is it doing in the next valley? Your clothes stash can include layers, gloves, a Buff, arm warmers, wind proof or waterproof. Personally I find gloves and arm warmers the best choice. They are small and lightweight but really make a difference to the extremities.

10) Music

Image by Flickr user Douglas Heriot

Image by Flickr user Douglas Heriot

An MP3 player with some well chosen songs (or podcast) can really make the hours fly by. I started to learn French in preparation for a holiday over a spring running season. The sheep looked at me strangely though.

11) Bag

 

Image: by A. Galassi via Flickr

Image: by A. Galassi via Flickr

Sounds obvious but you’ll need a comfortable, well tested bag to carry it all in. If the weather is stable you could get away with a bumbag.

12) Baggie

Image by Flickr user rexhammock

Image by Flickr user rexhammock

A small waterproof sandwich/freezer bag to protect the electronics and essentials.

13) ICE

Image by Flickr user Sarita Dawn

Image by Flickr user Sarita Dawn

Make sure your ‘In Case of emergency’ or next of kin contact details are on a piece of paper or card somewhere about you. When the next runner or walker comes across you in a dribbling incoherent mess they’ll know who to call to come and collect your remains.

This sounds like a lot of kit, but actually can all fit into a small bag or bumbag. This might be a numbered list, but in reality it’s all important, and when you need it, it’s essential. You’ll be glad you had these items and carried them all those times even if you only use one item once every 100 runs.

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