A long run gives you an exhilarating high. The most inspiring words I have encountered about long-distance marathon running is the author of Mile 9, Eleanor Brown’s, “You’ve climbed too many mountains and crossed too many rivers to stop and turn back now.’’ Beautiful words. Or this absolute gem by Tumpal Sihombing, “When you feel life’s slow, run.”
For most of us lesser mortals, the mere act of participating in a long-distance run is kudos enough. But a little bit of preparation goes a long way in creating that perfect awareness and focus on accomplishing the run on a high. Preparation for a long-distance run starts in your head.
That how to prepare for a long run needs a treatise may appear foolish to a reader. You slip into your joggers, stretch, and hit the road. The rest follows. Trust me; there’s so much more. Prepping is greatly underestimated at the expense of focus. I amplify:
Make a checklist, check them, and lay them ready. Once you are up and raring to go in the morning, these irritants don’t contribute much. They sap focus. A sample checklist, one that you can customize, can be like this:
- Shoes, the most important- in good shape. They were yesterday, sure, but check nonetheless.
- Shorts- fresh, good for tomorrow’s weather forecast.
- Upper wear- plain cotton T, warmer T, hoodie, etc. Conserving body heat is the aim.
- Hat, cap, or other suitable headgear
- Water bottle
- GPS watch charged.
Plan Your Route before a Long Run
A preparatory run is all about planning. You should monitor your route well. The objective is to know precisely the distance you will cover and over what ground. Sit back and play this mind visual in your head. You will visualize yourself running strong and finishing well. A positive mindset is something that goes a long, long way. Break your run mentally into sections. For example, if your intended distance is 15 km, think of it as 5 km slowly, the next 5 km a little pacier, and the last five are finishing.
Though this is a norm for all ages and walks, those in training on how to get ready for a race should know that one night of inadequate sleep is energy-sapping in itself. Take a walk after your supper, or a therapy that works exceptionally well is Yoga. Have a light, high-carb meal.
If you manage to rise early on your own, which is how it is supposed to be, that’s a great start. First, hydrate yourself. Give yourself ample time, an hour, maybe an hour and a half to complete your ablutions and sync with the world. Then, do some meditation that sharpens focus and stretches to limber up.
The meal of choice is again a light hi-carb meal. We are looking at about 500 calories and plenty of fiber. A sample diet would be one or two bananas, a wholemeal toast with peanut butter. Oatmeal is a great choice. Bananas, oats, broccoli, peanut butter, plain yogurt, dark chocolate, whole grain pasta, coffee, potatoes, etc., are all optimal performers in providing nutrition. &-10g carbs per kilo of body weight is a good rule-of-thumb.
The idea is to flush your system. Hydrate copiously and discard. It cleanses the body of toxins.
Practice Fueling For A Long Run
Fueling is referred to as a mid-run booster to top up your energy needs. There are available gels, chews, and powder that are water-miscible, or you can prefer nuts and dried fruits. As you practice for the big day, remember to experiment with various combinations and get it right for yourself. Hydration is a significant factor. Roughly you will need to have some water every 20 minutes and food every 40 minutes.
After A Long Run
Reload. Eat a suitable meal covering proteins, carbs, and fat to recover from the arduous run. In addition, you will have to replenish all those minerals you have sweated out. Non-alcoholic beer is excellent for rehydration.
Take a nap.
When setting up a training program for getting ready for a race, all runners make mistakes. But we learn from our mistakes, putting them behind, correcting posture, step, and stride towards transformation into an efficient running machine.
Shoes That Are Suited For A Long Run
Sticking to old shoes, shoes in disrepair is inviting running injuries.
Go to a professional sports shoe store. The salespeople here are professionals who will assess your running style, whether you are an overpronator or an under pronator, or a neutral runner. Taking these factors into account, they will recommend the right pair for you. Your shoes will need replacement every 300-350 miles, so it’s not a bad idea to have two teams that rotate. This stratagem will give each pair to dry out and last longer.
In the enthusiasm of getting ready for a marathon, aspirants mistake the ‘terrible toos’; too much mileage, too fast, too soon. As a result, you participate in every race that comes along. The belief that ‘the more, the better is false. But, unfortunately, the body does not get enough time to rest and recover. As a result, you are burning yourself out, and it may become so detrimental that you lose interest altogether in the running.
Be conservative at the start. Do not increase your mileage by more than 10% weekly. If you are starting from the cold, start by walking for a few days. Listen to your body for any signs of injury. Then, take a weekly day off.
Overstriding- A Common mistake during A Long Run
Overstriding is an injury-inducing technique of running, landing on the balls of your feet with the foot well ahead of the body’s center of gravity. Contrary to popular belief, it does not improve running efficiency. And you run the risk of shin splints injuries.
Don’t lunge forward especially going downhill—the land around mid-sole with your foot directly under your body. A sort, low arm swing close to the body while keeping your stride short is the cue. Imagine you are running on hot coals. Your stepping should be light and brisk.
Poor Upper Body Form- A setback for a Long Run
Swing the arms from side to side makes the upper body slouch and breathe inefficiently. Some runners, as they tire, hold their arms up by the chest. You will increase the tension in your neck and shoulders by this.
Keep your arms at waist level forming a 90° angle with the elbows. Rotate your arms at the shoulders so that they swing back and forth. Your hands should not cross the imaginary line splitting your torso midway. A straight, upright posture, head up, back unswerving, and shoulders level.
Never underestimate the vital need for hydration. One hour before, have 16-24 ounces of water or other non-caffeinated beverage. Stop drinking anymore so that you don’t have to stop during your run. Have another 4-8 ounces before you start. While running, take 4-6 ounces every 20 minutes and if you are running at a higher pace of 8 mph, increase it to 6-8 ounces every 20 minutes. If your run is 90 minutes or longer, switch to a sports drink like Gatorade to replenish lost minerals and salts. Continue hydrating after your run, especially if your urine is dark yellow or orange.
The usual mistake here is to wear too much or too little clothing. Never wear cotton. Once wet, it’ll stay moist, which is dangerous in cold weather and cotton chafes. Instead, stick to tried and tested technical fabrics such as DryFit, Thinsulate, CoolMax, or propylene. These wick away the sweat, keeping you dry. In cold weather, don’t overdress. Body temperature will increase with exertion around 15 to 20°.
Perils Of Over-Training
Going overboard is the nemesis of beginners. The assumption that running every day will help them shape up faster is a fallacy. Overtraining causes burnout and sports injuries.
- Increase mileage gradually.
- After a hard run, give yourself a day off.
- Every fourth week, cut down mileage to 50%.
- Add cross-training activities to ward off boredom doing only running.
In long-distance running, rookies make the mistake of stepping on the gas too early only to burn out early also. Your speed is something you should have figured out when training. Stick to it and check it at the first milestone. Adjust your pace accordingly. It would be best if you were running comfortably.
It would be best if you breathed through both mouth and nose. Muscles require a large volume of oxygen. Breathing only through the nose or mouth constricts the oxygen requirement. Breath from the diaphragm or belly as chest breathing is shallow. An appropriate pace is being able to do the ‘talk test.’ You should be able to converse while running without panting.
Before and during the run, we have already touched upon food intake. However, do not neglect to refuel. It is an essential aspect as your muscles need the carbs to rebuild glycogen stocks. After an hour of running, Ingest 100 calories and after that every 30-45 minutes.
We have put out concisely on how to prepare for a long run and some explanation on common mistakes made. Running is an exhilarating pastime, adding to your fitness levels, stamina, and health, and is a tremendous stress buster. In addition, the free flow of dopamine and endorphins significantly boost mental well-being. So why wait? Slip into your joggers and take off on a jog now.