The biggest and best of all the long distance running tips that I can give you is to prepare for it!
You know that failing to prepare is preparing to fail!
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!
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 what form (solid or liquid) you are eating 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 an hour.
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 MARATHONER.)
5. Think about what you want to carry with you.
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.
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.*)
Click on the link above for a free 24 hour long run recovery timeline.
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.
Remember, the best of the long distance running tips is to be prepared!
9. Pick a mantra or a quote to dwell upon for each long run that you have scheduled.
The Develop Your Marathon Mindset: 20 Week Mental Training Workbook for Marathoners will help you come up with a mantra! Plus it has you work through mental blocks and gives you techniques to use during training and into race day!
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.
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.
Have something cooking in your crockpot, set the start time on your oven or instant pot and have it warm and waiting for you when you get back!
This will also mentally help you during your run to stay on pace knowing that you have good food waiting for you upon your return!
Takeout works just as well though!
12. Get yourself something exciting to do for after your long run.
A favorite of mine is to put fresh clean sheets on my bed before a run and then after your long run, take a warm shower and then a long nap!
Here are some long distance running tips that you can use to help you while you are out completing your long run!
1. 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. Create an “End of Long Run” music playlist. Include only your absolute favorite songs on this list. Play it during the final miles of your long run. For sure mine includes Celine Dion’s “I believe in you”. :)
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!
This will help to keep you feeling flexible, can reduce the amount of muscle soreness you experience after your run and will give you a mental as well as physical break from all of the running.
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:
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.
I usually refuel through my energy drink during long runs but I also love bringing treats with me. The gummy Lifesaver candy is my favorite...and quite appropriate for the task at hand. ;)
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 Develop Your Marathon Mindset: 20 Week Mental Training Plan Workbook!
8. Pick something you are grateful for each mile of your long run.
Someone you want to offer it up for, or a reason you are running this mile. It’s a good way to stay mindful and give your long run even more purpose.
9. Listen to an audiobook!
I just finished listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers. It was fascinating! Here are some of my other favorite running books and audiobooks!
10. Stay aware of how you are talking to yourself!
Self-talk is a very powerful determinant in how you feel and whether you actually will complete the run or not.
Nip negative thoughts in the bud and only focus on the positive.
Half the battle is staying aware of the dialogue and the story you are creating in your mind!
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!
For me, the most difficult part of the long run is the half way point. It feels like I have accomplished a lot but at the same time my mind steps in and tells me that now I have to do it all over again! Depending on how I feel in that moment it can feel doable or overwhelming!
What’s the most difficult aspect of the long run for you? What are your best long distance running tips?