Long Distance Runner
Here are some tips
Long distance runner? Do you enjoy running half-marathons, marathons, or even ultra marathons, here are some tips to make your runs more rewarding.
Tips for Fueling Your Long Runs
Bring a low-calorie snack for DURING the run. For shorter runs this is not necessary, but once you become a long distance runner, it is important to have some kind of food with you to maintain your energy levels throughout the run.
My favorite running snack is the Gu brand energy gel found in your local running store. This is both convenient, it comes in a very small package that you can easily transport with you without weighing you down, and it has just the right amount of calories and nutrients.
They come in many flavors. I like the key-lime, strawberry-banana and vanilla. My running buddy, Michelle likes the chocolate, chocolate-mint and apple pie.
Gu brand or other energy gels are usually about 100 calories and have sodium and potassium, two important nutrients to help fuel your run. A lack of sodium or potassium is what usually causes muscle soreness.
These gels cost about $1.25 per packet or you can get box of 6 for $6. The packet will recommend that you take one 15 minutes before you run and then every 45 minutes. However, if you are running and nursing, you may need to take it even more often. I take it every 30 minutes.
One important thing to note about these gels is that some of them have caffeine. While caffeine may give you a boost of energy it is also dehydrating. And I noticed the one time that I took energy gels with caffeine during my run, my baby was very fussy. So I make sure to get the ones without the caffeine, that way I have the nutrients I need without the dehydration and my baby is calm for the entire the run.
Energy gels are my top recommendation for the long distance runner but there are many other running sports and snacks you can buy at your local running store like special runners jelly beans, block shots and bars. Or you can bring your own snack: a banana for potassium and some pretzels for salt.
A banana and pretzels are a nice break from the running gels since you can actually chew them so you feel like you are really eating something.
It is very important to stay hydrated. This is important for any runner, but especially important for the long distance runner. It is hard to find that balance between drinking too much and needing to stop at bathroom every couple miles and getting dehydrated. My coach always said if you reach the point where your mouth feels dry and thirsty, you have probably waited too long to drink something.
A good way of achieving a balance of hydration without retaining excess liquid, is to drink small amounts often. I make sure to wash down my snack with water and then have a little Gatorade or other high electrolyte drink to sip on between snacks. That comes to about 4 ounces every 15 minutes.
Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Training
Get in plenty of stretching. Right up there with getting a good pair of running shoes, my advice to any runner, but especially to the long distance runner is stretch, stretch stretch. And then stretch some more.
Unless it is your goal to look like the hulk, stretching is very important. No really, I love the hulk, but stretching is also very important for avoiding pain and injury.
It is especially important to stretch before and after your long runs. In addition, if you feel a cramp or running stitch coming on during your run, stop and stretch it out.
Increase your mileage every other weekend rather than every weekend. If you're doing a training for a long distance runner event, you want get in a long run every weekend, but you're only going to want to increase your mileage every other weekend.
Especially when you get in those three long runs in those weeks before the event, you want to do these over a six week period, not a three week period. So if you are training for a half marathon, you might do a 10, then a 12, then a 14 mile run every other weekend. But in between these runs you would stick in a 8-9 mile run.
Or if you are training for a full marathon, you would get in an 18, a 20 and then a 22 mile run, each two weeks a part. And in between these you would do a 13-14 mile run.
Also, you want to be done with your longest run three weeks before the event. So if you are running a marathon, you want to do the 22 mile run three weeks before, then taper down to a 13-14 mile run two weeks before and a 5-6 mile run the week before.
If you are training for a half marathon, this is not as important, but you still want to give yourself at least a week or two of tapering.
I will be adding some training schedules, so stay tuned for updates, or contact me if you have specific questions or suggestions.
Rest Just as important as getting in your runs is making sure to get some rest. This gives your body time to recover. Take one day a week off completely from running or any other kind of work-out. If you really need to do something, make that your day for yoga or stretching.
Rest is especially important for the long distance runner. I have noticed that my performance is at least 200% better on the days that I get a good night's sleep the night before my run and even try to take it easy the day before my long run.
It is hard to get in rest when you are getting up early in the morning to run, and that is usually what you have to do if you are a long distance runner unless you plan on running into the night. But try to get as much rest as possible.
When it comes to traveling and running, I like to travel West. That way my biologic, sleep clock will be programmed to go to sleep earlier and thus it will be easier to get up early and still get in an adequate amount of rest.
In addition to getting in your long runs, you want to do one extra training run per week, such as hill training or speed training. After that you want to get in 1-2 shorter easy runs per week, whatever you are comfortable running: about 3-5 miles depending on where you are in your training. For example start out with two three-mile runs per week early in your training, then build it up to four, then to five miles and then in those last couple weeks taper down to three or four miles.
Also, it is very important to get in an additional one or two alternative workouts per week. I recommend one full body weight-training or at least strength-training workout and then an additional cardiovascular workout like elliptical, swimming or biking: something easy on the joints. Then I recommend taking an additional day to stretch or do yoga or palates.