For every runner, especially every runner that is training for any kind of race, be it a 5K or a full marathon, they each have their own version of a long run. For the person training for a 5K, their long run is about 3 miles, whereas the marathon runner's long run in 20 or more. Both runners find conquering the long run to be a huge challenge that is difficult to overcome. So how do we do it?
First I'll give you the biggest challenges and then I will give you some solutions! The challenges are; being motivated, time, injuries, and food and hydration. What is important to realize is that there is no way around a long run if you are training for a race, so tie those laces and get out there! Oprah once said after her marathon that "running is the greatest metaphor for life because you get out exactly what you put in it!" How true is that!?
So here are some solutions:
Motivation: If you haven't read my blog post on motivations, I suggest that you do! But one great way to stay motivated is to have a prize or reward for yourself at the end! I had a personal fitness professor who said that she bribed herself with new music for her ipod. She wouldn't add new music until she had completed her workout or fitness goal. I thought that was an awesome idea. Or maybe you give yourself all new music before you start out so that you are focusing on the new tunes rather than the fact that you just ran 12 miles and have another 8-10 to go! Another way to motivate yourself is to change your running route, if you take a different route, your run won't seem as boring because you are passing areas you haven't seen before on your feet!
Time: Time is always a huge problem, and there is no way around it, depending on who you are a long run can take a few hours, depending on your pace and the amount of miles you need to log. But if you are swamped, go for a run earlier in the day! While it might be hard to get up and get going, you will feel like you have accomplished so much by the end! My senior year in college, when I was training for my first marathon, I would wake up at 6:30 or 7:00 am on a saturday and go for my long runs, it wasn't unusal for me to come back and find that my roommates were still sleeping! Naturally I showered did a few things and then took a nap! But I was glad to get my run done before I missed the fun events for the day!
Injuries: Now I can't say that you will never get injured, but if you have already decided to do a race then, injury is probably something you have moved past. But what about if you already have an injury? How do you recover from it? Here is a great way: RICE! R-Rest, I-Ice, C-Compression, E-Elevation. If you feel like you have an injury, give it a minimum of three days before you get back out there pounding the pavement! Then once you start again, do a short run to test out the waters! A few weeks ago when I was training for the STL 1/2 marathon I landed wrong on a training run, it was a week before the race so I decided not to run again till the race. I probably shouldn't have run on it even in the race but it was too late to back out! After the race I certainly Iced it a TON, once I was finally ready to run on it again, I only ran 2 miles. Seems like a regression but it was a Victory in my book!
Food and Hydration: I've noticed that this is something that runner's often get wrong and to be honest I definitely got it wrong for my first marathon. Because I was training down at school, I was on my own and didn't have my wonderful siblings to meet me with water at different points during my run. As a result I never trained with drinking fluids during my runs, except for an occasional water fountain that was pretty few and far between. When I got to the marathon, a day that got to be a whopping 93 degrees! I took everything that was given me, at every Aid Station...BAD CHOICE! While it was an extremely hot day and I needed fluids, to drink both the gatorade and water gave my cramps very quickly. I never trainied with Gu or any gels either but took them during the race and thought I was going to puke! So what do we do? Every serious runner and coach will tell you that it is imperative to do your training runs exactly like you are going to run your race! So here is a good rule of thumb: You MUST hydrate Before, during and after a run or race! If you are going to be running for over an hour you should drink some water and an electolyte or sports drink, to help replenish your electrolytes. If you are running for over 1.5 hours you should add food! As I was told on a run with my Running Club: "One glazed doughnut gets you 2 miles!" :) Do not eat anything for an hour before a run, otherwise you will have some intestinal discomfort. Eat or drink something after a race or long run. Bananas are a great source of potassium and other vitamins that have been depleted. Chocolate Milk and Chocolate Protein Shakes are a great way to replenish your body!
Lesson: Remember every long run hurble and obstacle can be overcome! Get out there and DOMINATE!
Rocking out to: Adicto - Enrique Iglesias