The Hilly 20-Miler Survival Tips

Fueling up for 20 miles was no problem! Food is my forte. Now, mapping a route was a different story. We spent the long-weekend with my Family in NM; I dreaded two inevitable things, hills and repeating hills.


After a lot of MapMyRun experimenting, I came up with an 8 mile loop that would be the lesser of a few evils, planning to add on some tangents when D joined me for Round 2 (on the bike, you know this).

I started early to avoid traffic on the roads; distance running isn’t exactly the Norm around these parts, no need to startle the drivers with unusual sightings!

Survival with New Gear: Ryders that I stole from dug out of D’s old running gear & the CamelBak that I finally found and purchased (Sale: only $25!) for all my hydration needs (holds 50 oz).

New Gear

The first was a convenience and a blessing to my corneas, this high-altitude sunshine doesn’t mess around (we were at 5500 ft in NM, higher than Denver!). The latter was a necessity; these arms simply do not agree with any handheld bottles weighing more than 10 oz, and my body simply demands more water than that.

Survival by Fuel: The CamelBak housed Black Cherry Propel mixed with water, which I sipped at least every mile. Electrolytes came by form of gummies & chips! Sodium was definitely not lacking this time. At mile 8 I took half of a Margarita Shot Bloks package; at mile 12 I took the second half; at mile 14.5 I ate ~1.5 servings of Cheddar & Sour Cream Baked Lays*. D brought plain water and Accelerade (aka Go-Fast Juice!), which I sipped alternatively with my Propel mix.

fuel of champions Fuel of Champions!
(Image Sources: chips, drink, bloks)

*Work with what you’ve got; the pantry at home had chips, so I went with it. On another note: go with plain chips, if you choose this fuel! Cheeto-finger effect was not pleasant.

Surviving the Route: The initial 8 miles included 4 definable, challenging Hills, the second 8 included those same hills and ended on an extra tangent that was a slight incline for 2 out of 2.5 miles. This dropped me off at the bottom of The Hill that my parents live on, and I decided why not just run on up (at mile 19.8…). That extra push (and lactic acid release?!) can only make me stronger! And out of breath.

The Survival Victories! I never stopped to walk. I only had to pause once for a stoplight (mile 17). I ran while I ate my snacks, which is new. I took every hill in stride; the key is run with the same Effort, slowing your pace as necessary. I only hit one mental wall; an incline for miles 17-19 isn’t easy, and I may or may not have cursed my choice of detours to tack on distance. I loved my Camelbak, I hydrated well, and I ate/fueled consistently. I didn’t pay much attention the slower-than-normal paces, because I felt Strong.

20 miles, 3:16:12

NM 023


The Post-Run Survival (Recovery) Smoothie-in-a-bowl:

1 banana
6 oz 0% Greek Yogurt
1 tbsp Natural Pb
Ice cubes
Bear Naked FIT Vanilla Almond Crunch Granola

NM 026

Protein: Greek Yogurt, Peanut Butter, Granola
Carbs: Yogurt, Banana
Fat: Peanut Butter, Granola


I even survived to tackle another hilly 8 miler on Monday morning, per the “Easy” day agenda. The glutes housed a few lactic acid visitors, but it was otherwise a fun, relaxing, activity-filled weekend.

How did you survive the long weekend?



Filed under adding the Hills, food, marathon, new things!, Nutrition, running gear, training, weekends, what to eat

26 responses to “The Hilly 20-Miler Survival Tips

  1. playing golf and eating junk food of course 🙂

  2. I can’t believe you managed to eat chips… WHILE running! Awesome!! Congrats on the 20 miler with no walks!!!

  3. jen

    Great work! My long run was 8 miles (love half training) and they were flat glorious miles. 🙂

    Does the camelback bug your back at all? I have never carried water with me on runs – but always plan a route with drinking fountains. However, I know I should have some back up options as the runs get longer.

    • Heather C

      Ha, glad your training is going so well! The CamelBak didn’t bother me at all – it’s a small model, designed for Women and Running 🙂 Definitely recommend it!

  4. Great job on your run! And great tips. I have only one more 20-miler before fall marathon #1. PHEW!

  5. Loved the recap! That’s hilarious that you ate chips as fuel, but hey bring on the salt! Good work for finishing a hilly 20. My half marathon went great…I got a PR!

  6. Nice job on the 20-miler! I love my camelback too.

  7. Fan of the camelback, but I love that you went with the Margarita Shot Bloks–something about it just makes running feel like more of a party.

  8. Dear Super Woman,

    I enjoyed your post today. I am now certain you have super powers.

    I am very, very, very impressed. I am going to have to try to the ShotBloks, are you sure there are no booze in them?

    And lastly, love the shades and the pack.

    Yours truly,
    Super Woman’s Biggest Fan

  9. Nice! How do you like the taste of the margarita shot blocks? I survived a 10 then 20 miler this weekend and they went great! I don’t use a camelback and instead carry a waterbottle. I usually put gels in my shorts or shoe pockets. Which race r u running?

    • Heather C

      I loved the taste! I’m actually not a huge Margarita fan (the drink), but these were just a little different than the Lemon/Lime flavor, in a good way.

      I’m training for the Denver Rock n’ Roll Marathon – 10/17/10 ! What about you??

  10. Awesome run and recap!! I love reading about how other fuel and hydrate. I still can’t imagine running 10 miles so I am so impressed with your 20 miler. We had an awesome weekend in Austin…I’ll be sharing about it all week on the blog. I have a million things to do this week before we leave town again! 🙂

  11. runeatdatesleep

    Awesome job on your 20-miler! I was just thinking of you with the wildfires. Hope you’re okay!

    • Heather C

      So far so good, thank you! The smoky air is getting to be a little bit of a concern, but hopefully things will be under control soon…

  12. Elizabeth

    More and more I’m considering the CamelBak. I finally succumbed to a handheld water bottle, but I have to fill it up at least 10 times during a long run.

    Glad you had a good run – I don’t envy your hills, though.

    • Heather C

      Baby steps…although the CamelBak is Much more convenient than refilling. And we all know those DC water fountains can be questionable… 😉

  13. carpeviam

    Chips. I may have to try that one since I’m anti-gu now. I’m still liking the pb sandwich crackers, though!

    Nice run!

  14. I am running my first ever 20 miler on Saturday! Thanks for the tips and the inspiration!

  15. Ahh you are crazy but so inspiring! 🙂

  16. my first 20 this training cycle was craptastic. here’s to hoping #2 this week is better! great job gf!!! 🙂 your rockin it! how many days?!?

  17. wooohooo. awesome 20 miler. I need to practice some sort of salt intake once I get started on ‘thon training again.

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