Long-distance runs are a great option for all training plans for runners, whether we’re a 5K, 10K or longer distance runner. Long-distance runs improve our stamina and aerobic endurance, which are also the building blocks for a runner who wants to learn to run faster over longer distances.
A long-distance run has different versions according to our regular running sessions. What one person may consider a long run may be an easy run for another. It’s usually one and a half to two times longer than our average weekly run. Once we start running longer distances, our body and brain will start feeling more comfortable, motivated and activated for long runs. We just have to focus on proper training plans.
7 LONG-DISTANCE RUNNING TIPS
1. PREPARE FOR A LONG-DISTANCE RUNNING MINDSET
Preparation for a long-distance run starts in our head. It’s ok to be anxious when we try a distance we’ve never run before. We can make it easier by preparing mentally for the long distance we’re going to perform.
To visualize the route we will run and picture ourself running well and finishing strong will motivate us more. We should trust our training, we can take it slow and tell ourself we can do it. A positive mindset will go a long way when the going gets tough. If we tell ourself it’s hard and you can’t do it, then we will only make it harder for ourself and we will find it much more challenging.
And this works the other way around as well, the mental toughness we get from running can help us fight stress in our daily life. If we keep focusing on the whole route, different sections, the finishing area, and to keep smiling, our brain will be much more motivated and happy to run that long distance.
2. FOCUS ON FUELING YOUR LONG-DISTANCE RUN
We need to carb-load for our long run, as carbs provide our body with energy, so to make sure we get enough carbs before our long run is crucial.
Healthy fresh carbs can be very efficient. Oatmeal, fresh bread, bananas, dates, fruits, dried fruits, natural energy bars is a great choice of carbs, as it’s easy on the stomach.
The carb requirements of someone running for 30 minutes will vary greatly from someone running for 2-5 hours or even more when running Ultras.
As long as our stomach feels ok during the run and we can finish it, we’re on the right track. If we feel like we can’t finish our run feeling strong, then we should start increasing how much we eat. During a long run we have to make sure we can consume 30-60g of carbs/hour, and follow our body type for proper fueling. Some people will need more gels than real food and other runners the opposite. If we’re training for a race, then the nutrition and hydration on our long run should reflect what we plan to do on race day.
3. LONG-DISTANCE RUNS ARE ALL ABOUT PACING
Our long run pace should be a slow pace we can hold for the duration of the run. We should run at a pace that would allow us to hold a conversation.
Long runs are more about the effort and simply covering the distance. If we have a specific race and goal in mind for a half-marathon, marathon, or Ultra-marathon, then this is when we can begin to think about hitting certain paces.
We should aim for 1 minute to 90 seconds slower than our planned race pace. It’s easy to overdo it in training and run too hard when we’re feeling good. It’s better to arrive at the start slightly undertrained than even as little as 1% overtrained.
4. CONSIDER REFUELING MID-RUN
If we’re running over an hour, then it may be time to start taking on calories during our run in the form of gels, chews, energy and electrolytes powders we can add to water, or nuts and dried fruits, energy bars, or even real foods for Ultra runs will provide great fueling during long runs.
Taking on food during a run isn’t easy and everyone’s stomach has different preferences, so we will need to test and experiment with different types of food. What works for one person won’t work for another. Every runner has their own type of foods and nutrition strategy according to their body type. So we should start building our running nutrition according to our body and running distances to make sure our body gets proper fueling to keep up our energy level.
Hydration during a long run is also necessary once we start to run longer distances. We will need to take water and electrolytes, and sports drinks with us during a long run either in a bottle or in a hydration backpack, or plan our route so we have access to water fountains along the way to refuel our body. Hydration and fueling during a long run requires a lot of experimentation, but a good recommendation would be to drink every 10-20 minutes and take on calories every 30-40 minutes according to our type of run and the weather, especially high heat and humidity. But even if the weather is not hot and we don’t really sweat, we should realize that our body is still getting highly depleted of electrolytes, water and carbs.
5. RECOVERY POST LONG-DISTANCE RUN IS CRUCIAL
It’s also important to eat soon after our long run to provide our body with the energy it needs to recover. It’s easy to skip this step and forget about recovery, but if we just ran a long distance, to be sure to recover and give our body what it needs is very important. Especially if we run Ultra distances, we will burn so many thousand calories, we will be so depleted of nutrients that we will feel hungry for a couple of days.
Our post-workout meal should consist of a good mix of proteins, healthy fats, and carbs to ensure good recovery. Also, after long-distance runs we should consume some electrolytes.
And to use a foam roller to give ourself a deep tissue massage, a foam roller will loosen up our legs, and good stretching will make us recover quicker. A good recovery strategy helps us recover faster and prepares us for our next run.
6. LONG-DISTANCE RUN ROUTE SELECTION
There are two ways to approach long-distance running routes. One way is to use the opportunity to run further from where our normal routes take us. This can be great if we have an adventurous mindset and are confident we can achieve the distance, or overcome challenges when they arise.
If we are nervous about long-distance running, running multiple loops of a route we already know is a good way to give ourself a mental edge. It could be enough to get us through the long run and start building our confidence. The longer distances we will run, it will start feeling easier, more comfortable, stronger and motivated.
Another option to motivate us to run longer distances is to run with some friends or other motivated runners. This will help us to keep going.
TIPS TO BE ABLE TO RUN LONGER DISTANCES OR EVEN ULTRA DISTANCE
We need to add extra kilometres on our regular running plans.
Motivate ourselves and activate a happy brain.
Focus on a comfortable pace and listen to our body so we don’t crash.
Plan some good running nutrition- Pre-run fueling, run fueling, and post-run fueling for maintaining good energy levels and recovery.
Running with friends or motivated strong and positive runners.
Post-run recovery with good stretching, foam rolling, massage and good sleep.
Enjoy Nice Long-Distance Runs, Feel Stronger With More Endurance, And Add Some Years To Your Life!