The weekend is almost here (YES!) and many of us have long runs planned (BOO!). If you are like me, you the long training run of your marathon plan is not your BFF. It is the thing I dislike most about marathon training. It takes up so much time, you have to plan your whole weekend around it, and you absolutely have to do it or good luck trying to run the 26.2 miles come race day!
During training for my first marathon, I made many mistakes during my long training run days. For instance, I didn’t realize my iPhone wouldn’t last the whole time so I would have to run the last few miles just hearing my exhausted breaths and slow feet and try not to focus on all the pain I was feeling. Also, I didn’t really study the route I was running so I would freak out when I had to use the restroom because I had no idea when the next one would be! Additionally, I didn’t really have a great fuel plan set up prior, so I ended up running out of water or not bringing along enough gels.
So, for my Walt Disney Marathon training, I knew I had to change some things up. And even though I still don’t like the long runs on the weekend, they have become a little more bearable. Here are some of my suggestions to make your long run suck just a little less:
-I work at a library, so I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner. My last few long runs I have been listening to different audiobooks and OMG it has made the time go by so quickly! My tip would be to start the book at least a little beforehand so you know whether you are interested in it or not. Last week I had planned to listen to a new book that was out, and I started it in my car the night before. The narrator’s voice was so distracting that I knew there was no way I could listen to it for over 2 hours! Luckily, I had another one and I enjoyed that one a lot :) You can also start it and then just save the last few hours for your run, it might make you even look forward to going on your run so you can finish the book!
You can purchase audiobooks online, or you can go to your local library and see if they offer e-media. My library does and there are thousands of audiobooks I can download and listen to straight from an app on my phone. It is very convenient and saves me a lot of money!
2. Set out clothes/fuel/everything you need the night before
Study the weather the night before so you know what kind of clothes you should wear. I am still trying to get better at this! But I always set out something so I am not wasting my time in the morning trying to figure out what to wear. The less time you waste before the run, the quicker you will be to being done with it! THIS site from Runner’s World is great for giving you suggestions on what to wear based on the weather conditions expected during your run. Also, set your water bottle (or belt depending on what you prefer) out, along with ALL the fuel you plan to take with you. Make sure you figure out where to store your fuel as well (hopefully your shorts or pants have pockets, if not you need to make another plan like wearing a belt!)
3. Eat the night before like you have a race the next day
Before my long training runs, I eat the types of food I would the night before a half or full marathon. So basically my Friday night (or Saturday night depending on when my long run is) dinners have consisted of a lot of spaghetti and bread lately! I remember during my training for my last marathon I decided to eat pizza and drink some beer the night before a 17 mile run. Let’s just say, this was not a great idea and I paid for it the next day during my run! (Severe stomach cramps!)
4. Know your route
Figure out what route you are going to take prior to actual getting out there on the day of your long run and just trying to figure it out. My first few long training runs for the Grandma’s Marathon, I thought I would just go to the park and run around until I reached whatever mileage I was going for. I didn’t know the exact number of loops I had to make or which way would be best to go, and this ended up making me feel very anxious for some reason and added anxiety is never good for running! Then, after I realized I should just find a longer trail to go on, I didn’t study the map of the trail before so I didn’t know where any of the bathrooms were, if there were any water fountains, or how hilly it was. So when I had to go to the bathroom I was in a panic because I didn’t know how long it would take before I would actually run into one!
5. Bring along a GPS watch to track your miles
If you are training for a marathon, I would highly suggest purchasing some sort of GPS running watch to track your miles on. When you get past a certain amount of miles, your phone is probably going to die, so you cannot rely on the GPS tracking on your phone. I have a Nike+ watch that allows me to sync easily to my Nike+ account, and I can just use it to track my miles and then listen to my music/audiobook on my iPhone and not even have to think about my phone dying. Plus, just in case something bad happens during your run, it is very important that you have a working phone with you if you need to call for help.
6. Take it Easy!
There is no reason to rush through your long training runs or feel like you have to go the pace that you want to during the actual marathon. My training plan actually suggests that I go 60-90 seconds per mile slower than I intend to during the race. I usually don’t end up going that slow, but I am getting better at pacing myself throughout the run. Back in the Spring when I was training for my first marathon, I was going at a much too fast pace during my long training runs. Looking back, I feel like this may have burnt me out a bit and made me more tired than I needed to be. my legs would be absolutely dead at the end of the run and I was in pain for the rest of the week! Now, for my last several long runs I have gone at a reasonable pace and if I find myself getting out of breath, I made a conscious effort to slow down. Even though I am sore after, I am not in an intense amount of pain and after some protein and water, I feel like I can do more with the rest of my day.