Sunday, October 9, 2016

Post-Hurricane Training and “Long Run” Tips and Tricks

This morning I braved post-hurricane Matthew debris and wind gusts of up to 20 mph in order to run a 15-mile training run on my favorite paved trail in preparation for my first full marathon in Disney World (January 8, 2017)!  If you’re training for a marathon (or half marathon, 10-miler, 10k or almost any race distance really), then you know what the term “long run” means:

Long Run (noun): the term for a long period of time during which a person whose sanity may be in question runs or run/walks non-stop for a LONG time, usually in preparation for a long distance race.  
Synonyms: torture device, boredom inducer, excuse to EAT ALL THE THINGS!!

Ok that may not be the technical term, but it pretty well defines some long runs for me.  And I put “long run” in quotation marks because what I’ve learned along the way is that one person’s long run can be a completely different distance from another’s.  Depending on your fitness level, experience, upcoming race distance, and/or motivation, your 2-miler may be the equivalent of my 20-miler.  So what follows is a list of proven tips and tricks that I’ve compiled based on my experience for any “long run” distance.

-Set up a good playlist and change it often.  I love using Spotify for my playlists.  For about a $10 per month subscription, I can create as many playlists as I want and download them so I don’t have to use cellular data to play them from my phone.  I have a playlist on Spotify that I call “marathon training”.  It currently holds 6 and a half hours of music and when started from a different song and played on shuffle, I get a new playlist every time I run.  I am constantly adding and removing songs as well to keep things fresh.

-Visualize the race you’re training for.  I know it sounds corny, but it really works for me!  When you’re struggling through the final miles of a long run, try imagining what that part of your race will be like and how exciting it will be to cross the finish line at the end.  For example, the last two miles of my training run today got a bit difficult so I imagined what it will be like to run the end of the Disney World Marathon in January, especially running those last couple of miles through Hollywood Studios and Epcot and high-fiving Mickey as I cross the finish line!  That little bit of imagination can easily put some extra pep in your step.

-Break your run into smaller pieces.  Another mind trick that really works is to break your run into smaller, more manageable pieces.  For example, when I’m running a half marathon distance (13.1 miles), I only think about finishing the first 3 miles when I start (5K).  Then I aim for miles 4-6 (10K), then 6-8, 8-10, and finally, 10-13 (final 5K). You could also divide a distance up based on loops or landmarks.  This strategy helps me from becoming overwhelmed by the total distance ahead of me.

-Take it easy!  It’s incredibly easy to hit the beginning of your long run hard and fast when you’re feeling refreshed and prepped to go.  But trust me, you’ll regret it later in your run if you take off to quickly in the beginning.  Unless you’re doing a Tempo run, make a point of consciously taking it slow and easy.  Your lungs, legs, and the rest of you will thank you for it later.  If you’ve got one, wear your GPS watch or GPS fitness tracker or use an app on your phone so you can track your pace and make sure you are keeping a relatively slow and steady pace.

-Fuel up and hydrate before, during, and after your run.  Effective fueling and hydration actually starts in the day or two leading up to your long run!  Make sure you’re drinking lots of water and watching what you eat in the days before your run and your body will thank you later.  I usually get up about an hour before I plan to start my long run to use the bathroom, eat a small breakfast (more about that in another post), and drink some water.  Then I sip water and nuun Active (I SWEAR by this stuff!!) every few miles of my run.  Side note: I also drink nuun Everyday for my vitamins every morning.  I also eat 2-3 ShotBlox about once every hour.  After my run I drink more nuun Active and water and eat a banana and/or drink some chocolate almond milk.  Later in the morning after I’ve stretched, cooled down and showered, I eat a meal with plenty of protein and continue drinking water.  

Well, I hope you have found some of these tips helpful for your long runs.  Be smart, stay safe and happy running!!

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