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Ah, the long run: Hours outside on tired legs while you try to convince yourself that you're not crazy (well, you are, but not in a bad way, right??).

Sometimes you end up with long runs where the weather is perfect, the birds are chirping, the light is golden, the company is great, and you feel like you could go for miles and miles more after you've finished your run. These sort of blissed-out runs are a reminder of why we run in the first place: in pursuit of that quietly joyous mental state. And when you can still achieve this state of bliss even after a stressful start? Amazing.

Recently I've been totally scatterbrained about getting all my long run gear together at 6am before the run. When it's before dawn on a Saturday morning you're not exactly on your mental A-game and it can be easy to forget about the little but important accessories that help on the run. Much like the "phone-wallet-keys" checklist (or the crass guy's checklist) for the mental double-check before heading out the door, I figured after some frustrated scrambling this morning I'd give myself a checklist of the 5 things I really need for every long run.

1) GPS Watch

I used to track my runs using my phone, but on long runs it can be tough carrying a big cell phone - the armband might chafe or you might sweat all over it and mess it up or you might be tempted to look at every distracting notification. While I still usually run with a phone for music/podcast purposes or for in case of emergency, I love the ability to manage my run tracking on the GPS watch*. It's a little more accurate and I have more control over the settings without having to run a sweaty finger all over my nice phone when I need to pause the run or change a setting.

2) Road ID

You can't see the metal plate with family contact info in this picture because, well, you don't need McCrae's number ;)

This is a safety item: if you're out on a run and something happens, who will the emergency responders know who to call?? A Road ID is a simple silicone band with a metal plate with my medical info and contact info for family, just in case.

3) Hat

There's nothing worse than an early morning run during a beautiful sunrise and you can't enjoy it because the sun is painfully bright in your eyes. I've been running in this hat* since fall 2014, which is pretty disgusting if you think about it, but yet it's somehow still white! 

4) Water belt

I generally start carrying a water belt for any run over 6 miles; for shorter runs I'll go with a handheld water bottle or no water. I like my Nathan water belt*, but there are a ton of options out there. It's important to find a belt*, water bottle, or backpack* that fits you and doesn't budge, rub, or slosh.

5) Nutrition

If you're going to be out running for 2 hours then you're going to need some nutrition to keep you going. While nutrition and fueling for long runs is a blog post of its own, I always need a reminder to check my nutrition stash in my water belt, whether it's Gu* or ShotBloks* or Sport Beans* or anything else. 

Armed with all of these above you're not guaranteed a fantastic long run, but they sure help.

What items do you always bring for a long run? Let me know in the comments!

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