If you’ve ever embarked on “marathon training” you know that your mileage quickly starts to soar and before you know it your long run is almost as long as the recent American Idol Finale. Preparing to debut in the marathon this fall, I am quickly learning that going out for my long run is much different than my weekly recovery runs. It requires thoughtful planning and preparation. Trial and error is a common approach to long distance training and is essential in determining what works for you. Try out some of the suggestions below and make it your goal to put together a few ‘perfect’ long runs this summer. Getting to know your body through practicing your long run can make all the difference when taking on 26.2 miles.
Map Out Your Route
Map out your route ahead of time (MapMyRun.com) and calculate how long this will take you. Share this information with a friend and ask them to send a search party if you haven’t returned after “X” amount of minutes. If you’re a fan of running long in
the trails you might want to consider purchasing an ID Bracelet. When mapping out your run strategically plan to run past several bathrooms and water fountains if possible.
It is important to know where to go when you “got to go!”. There is nothing worse than being in unfamiliar territory and realizing you are about two minutes from having to stop and do “the walk” to the nearest establishment. If you know you’re going to be running in the boonies be sure to pack some TP. I have a friend who learned the hard way after thinking he was clever wiping with a leaf. Two words: “Poison Ivy”.
Gas stations, coffee shops, running stores, and of course your family and friends places are good places to consider taking a pit stop. Gas stations typically have long hours, and coffee shops are busy places where you likely go unnoticed, and running stores will recognize “the walk” and quickly point you in the right direction. Get to know your area on your recovery runs, and plan your long run so that you pass a few “pit stops” along the way.
Note to Canadians: Petro Canada’s are extremely reliable!
When we run, our glycogen stores are quickly used up and if not replaced you run the risk of “bonking”. If you’ve taken a trip to “Bonkland” you know it isn’t a place you want to visit again. Lightheadedness, extreme muscle fatigue and even fainting can occur when you don’t pack the proper nutrition. I prefer to bring 1 gel for every hour of running but it is up to your personal preference. GI (gastrointestinal) issues are very common among runners and therefore it is important to get to know your body using a trial and error process during training runs. Most runners prefer to slip gels into their pocket if they have one, or safety pin gels to the inside of their shorts. Make sure you are comfortable before you take off! For help on nutrition consult Runners Feed’s dietician Jennifer Broxterman.
If you’re like me and you can’t stand the thought of carrying or strapping on a water bottle, it is super important to scope out your community’s drinking fountains. On your recovery runs try out different fountains. In college I knew all the fountains in town and could probably identify each fountain’s water in a blind taste test. It is a good idea to plan your long run so that it passes a few water fountains in the second half of your run. If you do carry water, you may be in need of a refill late in the game.
If you are a part of a club that meets for your weekly log run you might want to consider having a water table set up along your course. This is a great job for an injured running buddy who still wants to feel a part of the running community. If everyone is healthy find a high schooler in your area that needs to rack up some volunteer hours for his or her college apps.
Remember trial and error is the name of the game! As we like to say at the Runners Feed headquarters…Stay Healthy and Run Far!