4. BREAK IT INTO SECTIONS
A long run can seem scary, but it can help if you break up the distance mentally.
Instead of telling yourself you have to run 15 km (for example), tell yourself it’s 3 slow 5 km runs or 2 x 7 km with 1 km more added on — go with whatever combination works best for you. It’s also ok to take a break during a long run! If you’re doing 15 km and feel the need to walk or take a couple of minutes break between 5 kilometer stretches, then go for it.
However, try to reduce breaks in your long runs as your fitness level increases. It can also help to visualize a post-long run treat to help you get through the distance, whether this is a meal you’re looking forward to, a glass of wine, or simply watching Netflix for the rest of the day on the sofa.
5. CONSIDER REFUELING MID-RUN
If you’re running over an hour, then it may be time to start taking on calories during your run in the form of gels, chews, powders you can add to water, or nuts and dried fruit if you prefer a more “real food’” approach.
Taking on food during a run isn’t easy and everyone’s stomach has different preferences, so you’ll need to experiment with different types of food. What works for one person won’t work for another. Every runner has their “go to” foods and strategy — so start building yours!
Hydration during a long run is also necessary as you start to cover longer distances. You may need to take water with you during a run either in a bottle or in a hydration backpack, or plan your route so you pass water fountains along the way. Hydration and fueling during a long run requires a lot of experimentation, but a rough guide would be to drink roughly every 20 minutes and take on calories every 40 minutes.
Learn how to make your own sport drink alternatives!
6. DON’T SKIP POST-RUN RECOVERY
It’s also important to eat soon after your long run to provide your body with the energy it needs to recover. It’s easy to skip this step and forget about recovery, but you just ran a long way, so be sure to recover and give your body what it needs!
Your post-workout meal should consist of a good mix of proteins, fats, and carbs to ensure good recovery. If it was particularly warm out or if you generally sweat a lot, you may need to consume electrolytes and believe it or not, non-alcoholic beer is a good source!
If beer isn’t your thing, then adding a little salt to your post-run meal will work just as well. Also, dust off your foam roller to give yourself a deep tissue massage with a foam roller, loosen up your legs, and recover quicker. A good recovery strategy helps you recover faster and prepares you for your next run.