When you first decide to train for a longer race, the prospect of the long run can seem daunting. The idea of running for an hour or more can seem impossible, especially if you don’t know what to expect. To help out all the newbie runners out there starting their long run journey, I wanted to put together some hints that I hope will help ease your nerves and prepare you well for those long runs. These are my top tips for making your long run as easy and enjoyable as possible.
Set Everything Out the Night Before
I’ve been in the middle of many long runs only to discover that I forgot something I needed or forgot to charge my phone or GPS watch. Learning from those mistakes, I created a long run checklist, which helps me to remember everything I need to do and set out the night before so waking up and getting on the road is easier. Be sure to check the weather and plan what you’ll be wearing accordingly.
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Plan Your Nutrition Strategy
If you’ll be running longer than an hour, you may want to bring fuel with you. Everyone’s body is different, so you’ll probably have to play around with things and experiment a bit with different products until you find something that works well for you. Common options include gels, chews, candy, and fruit.
Plan your Hydration Strategy, Too
Staying hydrated during your long run is just as, if not more important as figuring out how you’ll be getting energy during your long runs, especially in the summer. The common suggestion is to drink when your thirsty, but if you’re not constantly running next to a drinking fountain, you’ll want to plan out how you’ll be getting water, whether it’s carrying water with you, placing water along your route, or running by public water fountains.
I can’t emphasize this one enough. Your long runs should be done at a very slow pace, slower than your easy runs. You should be running at conversation pace–a pace where you feel like you could easily have a conversation with a running partner. You should be able to speak in partial to full sentences without huffing and puffing. If you push too hard during the long run, you’ll stress your body too much and run the risk of getting injured, sick, or both.
Fuel Properly After the Run
Be sure you eat or drink something with carbohydrates and protein after your run to help your body start to refuel and recover from your run. Most sources will suggest you consume 200-300 calories within 30 minutes of finishing your workout, ideally with a 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio. I usually have a serving of Endurox R4–I like having a recovery drink because it’s hard for me to eat after my runs and it helps me rehydrate, too.
Veteran runners: what are your top long run tips?
What’s your favorite part of the long run?