Photo: Team Nuun

There’s running, and then there are races.

There are relays, and then there’s Hood to Coast.

Earlier this week I ran in a relay that starts on Mt. Hood and travels 199 miles to Seaside, Oregon. Our team of 12 bloggers split into two vans, each of us running three legs to cover the distance. I came home with sore legs and tons of new friends — things I expected and hoped for. But what I wasn’t prepared for was how Hood to Coast changed me as a runner. Here are the things I learned, running shoes, van-mates, and all:

Photo by Sarah Boone

Running is mostly mental. No matter how hard you train, so much of running comes down to the mental stuff. Running through peroneal tendonitis, I knew I wasn’t in the best physical shape, plus I had never run 17 miles in 24 hours before! (Mind you, this was on no sleep and only one cup of coffee, too.) Thinking positive really made a difference on the road; believing in myself is what pushed me through each leg.

  • Hydrating is so important. I was so lucky to be running with Nuun, Hood to Coast’s hydration sponsor. I’m definitely guilty of not drinking enough fluids while training, so hitting the road with a company that cares about the importance of proper hydration — without the extra sugar — was key during each of my legs. (For those keeping track at home, this included four speedy, downhill miles, a seven-mile stretch at 1 am, and a final six, hilly miles with the sun on my back.) Refueling with electrolytes helped prevent muscle fatigue and cramping, and geared me up for each runInfluence of Hydration and Electrolyte Supplementation on Incidence and Time to Onset of Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramps. Jung. A.P., Bishop, P.A., Al-Nawwas, A., et al. Journal of Athletic Training, 2005 Apr-Jun; 40(2): 71–75..
  • Being on a team is key. With sore legs and little sleep, it was definitely a challenge to run each leg. But having your whole team cheering you on at the baton exchange, and hearing them scream your name from the van (the second home for everyone else waiting to run) was what pushed me through each mile. By my first few steps down the mountain, I stopped running for myself and started running for my teammates, which made the whole experience even more special.
  • New challenges are humbling. Training for a marathon isn’t easy. Intervals and fartleks are challenging. Even simply getting in a morning run before work is a major commitment. But running seven miles in the middle of the night? Pushing through a final six, hilly miles after not sleeping for 24 hours? Hood to Coast reminded me that running any stretch of road can be incredibly tough, but you can always be pushed harder.

Thanks again to Nuun and everyone on the team for their friendship and support! To see this year’s results and find out how to register for next year, visit

Have you ever run a relay before? Were you at Hood to Coast? Tell us your stories below!

Disclosure: Accommodations and all other arrangements to attend Hood to Coast were paid in full by Nuun. As with all Greatist stories, any content we publish is independently written and never in exchange for goods or services.