Long runs can be tough, no matter what kind of runner you are. Whether you're just starting in the running world or you've been at it for years now, I think we can all agree that long runs are one of the hardest parts of training. A "long-run" is different for everyone, but it's usually one or two times longer than your average weekly run. For instance, if you run 6 miles a day, your long run would be somewhere around 10-13 miles. These runs are an important part of training for any runner looking to build stamina and increase their endurance. So if you're looking to change up the game and challenge yourself to a long run, here are the 3 tips to mastering the long run that will help you conquer those miles and unlock all the running endorphins.
1. Mentality Makes the Game
A major key to enjoying running, no matter the distance, is mastering the mental game. As much as running takes a toll on you physically, it also does mentally. It's important to not psyche yourself out before a long run, and instead to prepare your mind for the miles ahead. Trust in yourself and your physical state to get you through the tough thoughts that lay ahead. Visualize your route and prepare yourself for the struggles you'll take on. There's no doubt you will have tough moments along the road but if your mental game is strong then you'll run on like the champion that you are.
2. Pace Yourself
Learning to pace yourself is a matter of listening to your body. Some days, you feel great and can plow through a fast-paced mile. Other days it feels like that distance was nowhere in sight. When it comes to long runs, it's essential to slow your cadence down and take each breath with a solid stride. During a long run you put your body through a longer period of stress, so you'll want to make sure it can withhold all that pressure for a longer duration. Shoot for 1-2 minutes slower than your average daily pace. Keep in mind too, that going too slow can cause shin splits which is pretty much a runner's nightmare. Enjoy each step and let the road take you down the running rabbit hole.
3. Nutrition is Necessary
For any athlete, for any activity, nutrition is always 90% of the game. So, of course, it's most essential when a long run is ahead. You'll need to eat plenty of carbs before your long run. Healthy carbs such as oatmeal, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, etc. provide your body with stored energy that will fuel you during your extended period of exercise. Remember the pasta parties you may have had back in high school before a big game or race?? Yeah well, while they were awesome times to spend with your teammates, they were also fueling you for the next day. Of course, balancing with the other macronutrients, proteins and fat will also fuel your body properly for the long run. But most importantly, as any runner should already know, hydration before, hydration during, and hydration after.