The biggest and best of all the long distance running tips that I can give you is to prepare for it! It is all in the prep work. It's hard to simply wake up on a scheduled long run day go out get it done, stay mentally and physically strong and then recover properly if you do not give any forethought to the entire process. So these long distance running tips are going to focus on how to prepare for your long distance run ahead of time so that you can pull it off seamlessly and strongly!
1. Have your media picked out. Make a new playlist, find a new audio book, etc. Make sure your battery is charged. Layout your headphones. Sync, download, choose, charge, do whatever you need to do before your long run day so that you can have everything ready to go with what you want to listen to with a full battery ready to go! Two recommendations: running with Bluetooth headphones is the only way to go and get yourself a flip belt to carry your phone or media player. It's worth it.
2. Consider your hydration needs. Remember a long run of over an hour requires a high carbohydrate energy drink. Take a look at this page to find the best energy drink as a runner (you don't want to fuel up with something that is actually going to be detrimental to your endurance performance). Then think about whether you have that energy drink available and ready to go (e.g. pre-mix your Gatorade mix the night before.)
3. Think how you will carry or get your water. Do you need to carry your water bottle? Maybe you can have someone meet you in a car at a certain point on your long run so that you don't have to have the extra weight. Or maybe you can run along a route that has access to water fountains.
4. Do you need something to eat. As far as eating goes during your long run it really is a matter of preference. From a performance standpoint you are able to absorb your energy faster when it is in liquid form. However some runners actually want and look forward to having a snack at a certain point on there long run. Some things to consider: again you do not need to eat during runs of less than a mile. Choose something that is high in carbohydrates but that contains some protein. (We talk a lot about how to fuel and what exactly you should be eating in EAT LIKE A RUNNER.)
6. Check the weather a day or two before. Nothing is worse than being forced to put off a long run due to ice, cold, excessive wind, heat, etc. Checking the weather will allow you to plan and make changes to your schedule if you need to.
7. Put a recovery plan into place. Know what you need to do to jump start the recovery process before you actually are in recovery mode. This will help you rebound quicker, less painfully, and help in reducing injury from over-training.*)
8. Decide on your route ahead of time. Make sure you know the distance of where you plan on running. If you under or overestimate the mileage of a certain route you do not want to realize that during a long run. This could lead to you cutting yourself short or becoming extremely discouraged.
9. Pick a mantra or a quote to dwell upon for each long run that you have scheduled. The ChampTalk Mental Training Workbook will help you come up with a mantra!
10. Look for running groups in your area that have scheduled long runs. Some marathons especially in the city where the marathon is to be run has marathon training groups. These are great to join since they will hold you accountable to your long run, finagle many of your training distances, plan routes, provide water, and are a source of support.
11. Prep all of the food that you will need to eat before your long run, during your run, and after your long run ahead of time! Refer to each of the linked pages for recommendations and food lists. Prepping foods ahead of time especially for during and after a long run, will give you that insurance that you will fuel up with foods that are healthy and effective for you and your long run that day instead of just grabbing something that might slow you down or slow down the recovery process.
Give yourself things to look forward to. Run your favorite part of a route towards the end. Hold off on your favorite songs until you need them most. Bribe a friend to meet you at a certain point to give you encouragement. Find a friend to run even just part (3-4 miles) of your long run with you.
2. Every 2-5 miles, or as needed, stop and stretch! Your legs, arms, and core are doing the same cyclic movements over and over and over again for miles at a time. They are constantly contracting and relaxing only to contract again. Not only does it feel wonderful but it will help to ease out stiffness that might be building. A couple areas to focus on stretching: calves, hips (focus on opening them up), release the shoulders and arms, lower back, quads, and hamstrings.
3. Plant or carry a favorite snack. Sometimes, especially for first time marathoners, you need to think outside of performance and consider how you will persevere best. So if what you need are oreos to get you through then eat the oreos. Run by your favorite donut shop along your route. Stop for a coffee.
4. Definitely choose a reward for yourself for finishing your long run. Maybe you didn't finish it in the time you wanted (although you should be running slower than you probably are!) But if you put in the effort then celebrate finishing and completing the next step on your path to the finish line!
5. If you are taking the time to prepare and go out on a long run then don't do it half-heartedly! It's not worth it. If you are putting in the time you might as well give it your best. Put in your best effort. In the scheme of things a long run is just a blip in time. Make it count. It is so temporary!
6. Play mind games. List 20 things you are grateful for. Think of one new thing you want to try in the coming week. Think of something you want to challenge yourself with during the week (as if challenging yourself to run a marathon isn't enough. *wink) Have an insightful meeting with yourself and bring Siri along to help you schedule reminders and take notes for you!
7. Break the run down into segments. Looking at the overall picture of running 20 miles can seem very daunting. Breaking it down into smaller distances (Four 5 mile runs for example) will help it seem much more manageable! It can also help to break it down according to your route. So part 1 might be running to the park, part two could be entering and running on the trail, part 3 might be leaving the park and heading downtown and part 4 could be heading back home or to your car. Create your own mental strategy for your marathon race and during long runs by using the Champ Talk Workbook!
Above all remember:
Running is about experiences, enjoyment, becoming the best version of you. So enjoy the journey and do what's best and what WORKS for you!
I'd love to send you my FREE 26-page Step by Step Guide on How to Train for a Marathon!