Let’s be real – long runs are not always awesome. Yes, they’re part of the program but no, they’re not always on the top of my list of “things I really want to do on Sunday morning”. They take a lot of planning, a lot of time, and often a lot of pain. I usually get through the first couple miles and then start counting down because I just want to be DONE. Things went a little differently during my last long run though. It was supposed to happen on Sunday but because of my trail race the day before, I pushed it to Monday morning and LOVED every second of it. My legs were still super sore – turns out they hurt even more TWO days post-race! I just did things the way I thought I should do things and it worked out perfectly. To my surprise, it was one of the best long runs of my current marathon training cycle.
Since it was going so well, I started thinking about what things I did to make the run so flawless and decided I should put them in a blog post. I know everyone has their own way of prepping for and getting through a long run but here are the things that worked for me:
1. EAT. I’ve been trying to beat the heat so my runs are usually super early which often means no food in my stomach. I just can’t eat that early in the morning. I know this is a horrible habit, especially when it comes to long runs, so I’m working on changing it. I woke up on Monday and realized I hadn’t charged my watch so I plugged it in and ate Love Grown Foods Hot Oats (in apple cinnamon – my favourite) while I waited. I also brought a gel with me to eat mid run. I tried a new brand called Huma that my friend Annie picked up for me when she visited the U.S. and I LOOOOVED it. I tried the lemonade flavour and it was delicious. Thanks Annie!
2. DRINK. I hate carrying water, wearing belts or hydra packs, stopping for water, and even drinking on the run. I feel as though water sloshes around in my stomach and it makes it super uncomfortable to run. I might hate it but it’s necessary, especially in this crazy heat wave we’ve been experiencing here in Toronto. I bought myself a tiny FuelBelt handheld bottle a while back and I’ve been using that and definitely prefer it over wearing a belt. It doesn’t hold much but I try to plan my routes so that I either pass a fountain or a Starbucks so I can refill it.
3. DITCH DISTRACTIONS. This one sounds so silly but whenever I bring my phone on my runs, they take longer. I get distracted when I hear notifications and feel like I have to check them right away or I pull my phone out to take photos. I end up taking unintentional breaks and my run just drags on. It’s completely unnecessary and makes me dread the last few miles like no other. So if I do bring my phone and really want to take photos, I save it for the end of my run as a “reward” for finishing.
4. NIX THE NUMBERS. Long runs are not about how fast you can get them done. They are about training your body to run long and to run far. DO NOT worry about how fast you are going, unless your plan or you coach has you doing a specific long run (i.e. fast finish, progressive long run, etc). This has taken me so long to learn and I sometimes still have trouble seeing my pace drop on long runs. We have to accept that some runs will be slow and I think that’s what helped me on Monday. I knew my legs were still trashed from my race so my only goal was to cover my prescribed long run distance (12 miles) and not worry about my pace. I ended up running an 8:51/mile average feeling absolutely incredible the whole time.
5. DON’T STOP (unless you really have to). Obviously traffic lights and emergency situations will require you to stop mid-run but try not to stop for lame reasons. I’m guilty of it. Sometimes I see a hill or I feel tired and want a walk break but I’m learning to run through these situations because guess what? Races make you tired and races have hills. What do you do during races?? RUN. I personally lose momentum when I have to pause too many times and feel like my runs are more solid and successful when they are continuous. Plus it makes me feel a little badass too.
Okay…I think that’s it for now. Once again, these are the things that work for ME and some of them are pretty obvious (eat before you plan on running for almost two hours…duh). I’m still learning every day and I am a work in progress when it comes to running. I hope I am lucky enough to have more long runs that go just as smoothly as my last. It was definitely a good feeling to be done thinking “I NAILED IT!” rather than all the opposite feelings I was experiencing last week. One day at a time, right?
Happy Thursday! Add your tips below if you think I missed any!