Long runs are great for when you have a race coming up and are essentially smaller versions of this race. Following a preparation list for your long runs help you form a habit so that when it comes to race day, you will be more than prepared. You will need to repeat these steps in this article throughout the weeks leading up to the night before your race. So what are these steps?
We have written this article to tell you all about them and how to prepare yourself for the long run. Let’s jump in!
Preparing For a Long Run
With the steps outlined below, you should be on your way to running your best long run to date. They are easy to follow and if followed correctly, could enhance your training significantly. They include:
Getting Enough Rest
Sleep is vital for performing a successful long run. Inadequate sleep means more stress, drains mental stubbornness, messes up your willpower, and makes quitting seem a whole lot easier than carrying on when your legs get tired.
You not only need to charge yourself up by sleeping but make sure all your tech gear is charged if your runs are longer than 3 hours. You don’t want your GPS watch dying mid-run.
Check the Weather Forecast
You need to dress accordingly and this is why it is important to check the weather. Instead of not training when the weather is bad, just ensure you have the right equipment for it. This will prepare you for races where the weather is unpredictable and you could be running whilst raining whether you like it or not.
Plan Your Route
You need to know which route you will be taking in the long run. A lot of the time, it is a good idea to simply stick to the route you already know and you run often. This means if you lose power on a GPS watch or something else goes wrong, you know where you are.
Prepare Your Running Gear
Getting your running gear prepared the night before is not only great to prepare you for long runs, but also races. It will help you stay organized and you’ll get used to seeing the same running items the night before a race. Make sure you lay them in a place you can see them as soon as you wake up to set the stage for that day’s activities.
You also need to prepare your running fuel. Calculate how much energy you are going to need and set it out alongside your running clothes and shoes.
Avoid Drinking Alcohol Before a Long Run
You should not drink alcohol the night before a long run, and if you can, avoid drinking it at least 2 nights before your long run. If you run after having too many beers, it can linger in your system and this means your body will not respond to exercise as well.
If you decide to drink the night before, your body will not be hydrated and you will not be able to shuffle the energy to the right parts, such as your legs. This is because your body is too busy trying to get rid of the alcohol.
Moreover, your blood pressure might be higher, and your body doesn’t rest properly, as it is attempting to get rid of the toxins instead of making up new blood cells.
Try An Early Morning Run
An early morning run is a great way of getting your long run done. The weather is usually cool and crisp and getting it done in the morning means a 3-hour run is a lot easier to fit into your schedule.
Put On Your Running Clothes ASAP
If you have lined your running clothes out the night before, pop these on as soon as possible when you wake up. This will kickstart your body and let your mind know you’re about to go running. Sometimes, this motivation is all you need.
Eat a Small Meal
Your body needs to be fueled for both long runs and races. You need to be training your body to not only run long distances but to also accept a meal before running.
You might choose to have something small but that will give you plenty of energy such as oatmeal or a bagel or even pancakes with some peanut butter.
Use the Bathroom
This might seem obvious, but please make sure you eat as soon as your wake up or at least one hour before beginning your long run. When you train your body to accept food, you will also train it to use the bathroom and this means you need to be using the bathroom at least one time before setting off.
Use Anti-Chafe Cream
If you have experienced chafing before, you know it’s not fun. The nasty rash can take a few days to subside and can last longer than 10 miles when you’re out on the road. To avoid this, apply lots of anti-chafe creams.
Anit-chafe cream is often put between the legs and on the nipple areas for men and women. Some also chafe underneath their arm but to help with this, try and give your arms and body some distance between them.
Meditation can refocus your mind on running and simply closing your eyes for 5 minutes and concentrating on smashing your long run can really make a difference. At the last minute of your meditation, try and clear your mind completely and if a thought appears, try and attach a balloon to it and watch it drift away.
Your body spends anywhere from 400-800 calories every hour, and can only consume or oxidize around 250-300 calories every hour.
Your body will not be able to catch up with the energy expenditure in the long run and whilst some runners can easily take in at least 60 grams of carbohydrates every hour, others might only be able to absorb 20-30 grams.
This is why it is so important to find out how much fuel your body needs for a race. On average, most people can consume around 40-45 grams of carbohydrates every hour and this equates to about 2 energy gels.
How you warm up differs with each person. You can try just walking for 5 or 10 minutes, or try a 1- minute dynamic stretching routine. As long as your warm your body up, do what feels best for you, and always take that first mile light and easy.
Run Your Long Runs On The Same Day Of The Week Your Race Will Be On
This is not essential but could help your body recognize and get into a pattern that on Saturday for example, is when you should be running your long run, and this should make the race easier if it falls on that same day.
Your body will be used to it already and should be used to the habits you have in place to optimize your run.
Always Have a Post-Run Snack
This is essential to repair the muscles in your legs and refuel your glycogen stores. You need something with protein and carbs such as a protein bar or a banana with peanut butter.
How to Prevent Cramping Whilst Running
One thing long runs often come with is painful cramps. These are usually a result of sodium depletion and to help with leg cramps, you need to be using table salt. Sports drink and gel packs also contain a sodium mix and if you carry a salty snack, like pretzels, this can help prevent cramping too.
Potassium is also key to avoiding cramps as it helps prevent dipping in your body’s salt supply. Potassium-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, dairy, and fish. On top of this, you need to be staying hydrated and for longer runs, you need a sodium, carbohydrate mix found in sports drinks.
You could even get a massage, as massaging those tired muscles can keep them conditioned for long runs and prevent leg cramps.
We hope by reading this article, you have learned more about how to prepare for your long run and how preparing for your long runs can help with your races and enhance your training significantly. We hope by following these steps, you can get those miles up and smash your next big race! Happy running!