Hello everyone! I hope you all had great weekends! I embarked on my ten mile long run on Saturday and realized that I had forgotten A LOT of my long run strategies from previous marathon training cycles. I realized I haven’t trained for a marathon in two years. Yikes! It’s time to get serious and put all of those tips and tricks back into effect or I’ll be up PC (poopy cramps) creek without a paddle!
I’ve decided to write down my list of tips and tricks that help me get through long runs. These are things that have worked for me and of course, a lot of them, I learned the hard way.* Heh. Feel free to add yours in the comments.
The Night Before
1. Get your gear ready. Have your Garmin charged, socks washed, and good D.O. to go! I have found that Degree works best for me and I always put some on the night before the run as well as the morning of. It helps keep the stank out. Promise! Also, I love nothing more than putting on my squishy flip flops after a run. I want those shoes off as fast as possible, especially is there’s post long run breakfast in store. Pack your post run bag with dry clothes so you can be comfortable while you relish in your post long run glow.
2. Eat a smart dinner. Oy, have I effed this one up before. Stay away from veggies. Yes, they are good for you but they will make you have PC’s like nobody’s business. Eat foods that are easy on the tummy and don’t say “High in Fiber!” anywhere on the label. Trust. Me. Nothing high fat, nothing fried, and for the love of God, NO MILK.
3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! And no, I don’t mean with beer, Ken.

4. Go to bed early. The later I stay up, the harder my run is. I know I can get by on a little sleep sometimes, but week after week has caught up and I’ve felt terrible! You are training for a marathon so act like it. Go to bed!
The Morning Of
1. Evacuation…complete. For the record, I forgot about this trick last weekend and had to keep my run close to the nearest bathroom. TMI? The trick that works best for me, to, you know, “go,” before a long run is to set an alarm an hour before my intended actual wake up time and take a caffeinated gel. I open my eyes, eat the gel half-asleep, and then return to slumber. Upon waking, things get moving. I’m sorry, I know this is gross but I swear by it. I’ve heard coffee works just as well.

No, it’s really not.

2. Eat a little something. This breakfast varies from runner to runner. I can’t eat too much cause my stomach is pretty sensitive but I do try to get in at least a piece of toast or half a bagel with peanut butter. I usually don’t eat anything for runs under ten miles. Anything over that and I know I need the fuel.

3. Start early. This is true for those of us training during the summer. In Florida, starting when it’s dark out is optimal. Sure, you have to go to bed at 7 PM 8 PM but it’s worth it to be done as the sun gets angry.
4. Plan your nutrition stops. If you don’t run with water (I don’t) then you need to plan your route with water and potty stops. If necessary plant some water along the route. You’ll be thankful for that extra five minutes it took to stash some water bottles. In addition to the water, it’s nice to have a stopping point to look forward to. Just don’t lollygag for too long.

The Run
1. Run your pace. This goes without saying. If you have a goal time in mind, try to run with someone who has that same or very similar goal. There’s no sense in you killing yourself to run too fast OR hurting yourself by going too slow. I’ve had many friends along my running journey who have gotten faster and I just couldn’t run with them anymore and that’s ok. It happens. I’ve also gotten faster than a few and that’s fine too. As long as you talk about it and understand that it’s not intentional on either end you should be good to go.

2. Hydrate and fuel. Drink your water and take your gels. The trick here is to stay ahead of dehydration and bonking. You can’t catch up after you’re in a well. Drink early and often. Eat those gels on time even if you feel like a million bucks. The, “If you feel good during a marathon, just wait. It’ll pass,” can also be said of long runs.

3. Work on your mental game. Long runs are just as important to your mind as they are to your body. Focus on your breathing, listen to your thoughts, and remember what your goal is. It helps keep you on track.

Post Run
1. Re-fuel. The rule I have read is to eat within 30 minutes after a run. I know a lot of runners who pack a recovery drink of some sort so they have it in hand and ready to go. I usually only do this for runs over 16 miles, but I do try to eat as quickly as possible for anything under that. I like Muscle Milk Lite personally.

2. Light stretching. I’m pretty terrible at stretching post run but I know it’s so, so, so important.

3. Legs up the wall. This is my absolute favorite post long run stretch. This one I actually do. In fact, I did this before I even knew it was a yoga pose. All you have to do is sit parallel to a wall with your side touching the wall. Then, you swing/climb your legs up the wall until they are straight up. (Doing it this way helps you get your booty as close to the wall as possible without all of the scooting.) I sit like this for 15 minutes. My toes get tingly and it starts to feel uncomfortable toward the end but the payoff is worth it. I swear it helps ease the post run soreness!

Red and I, circa 2009.

That’s all I have for now. If you have any tips, I’d love to read them! Comment away friends.

*I’m not a doctor or a certified running coach.