Now that I’ve gotten a few long runs under my belt, I thought I’d share my tips on how to make the most of your long run. I still get nervous before most of my long runs but I think that is actually a good thing because nerves leads to preparation.
- BUDDY UP. My number one tip is to enlist a running buddy for your long run. Having a buddy can make a MAJOR difference in terms of actually enjoying your run. Exhibit A: the photo below is from a 12 mile run with one of my run buddies. It was a great run. Not easy…but great. The time passed pretty quickly, I felt good and as you can see, we kept it at a pretty quick pace.
Contrast that with my 13.1 mile run that was done alone. It sucked, to put it mildly. It was hard, I was unmotivated and it took me much longer than my 12 miler (20 minutes longer, to be exact). Mentally, it was just so much harder. Exhibit B
- PLAN AHEAD. Again, I can’t overstate how important this is. The night before my long runs, I put my water in the fridge, set out my clothes, my fuel and make sure my shoes and earbuds are ready to go. This way, when I wake up, I can just throw everything on and GO. Trust me, at zero dark thirty (or whenever you’ve finally managed to convince yourself to tackle 6,8, 10+ miles) you do NOT want to have to search for your headphones, right shoe, etc.
- CHOOSE YOUR ROUTE WITH CAUTION. Do not — I repeat DO NOT just start running thinking you will “figure it out as you run.” What you will figure out is how to run into every hill in the DC metro area, if you are anything like me. This is also important for safety reasons. Figure out where you are going to run and make sure someone knows your route.
- THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’LL DO AFTER THE RUN. This goes along with plan ahead, but think about your day, especially if you are running in the morning. For example, one of my best friends is getting married the day I’m scheduled to run twenty miles. That sounds like a terrible idea – so I will be changing my schedule around and doing this run earlier. I definitely don’t want to be so wiped out that I can’t enjoy my friend’s wedding. So think about what you have planned the rest of the day so that your run doesn’t ruin anything for you! That being said, I’ve run shorter distances (10 – 12 miles) and been fine the rest of the day. Sore, maybe, but definitely able to be a functioning member of society. By the time you are running long[er] distances, you should have a sense of how your body will react and be able to judge accordingly.
So those are some of my tips! What helps you navigate through a season of long training runs?