I’ve spent nearly ever Saturday morning for the last seven years doing a long run. I’ve learned things along the way and have a pretty good routine down now. I hope you enjoy my tips for having a successful long run.
For some reason my face got really red today while I was running. My face always gets red; I think it is my Norwegian blood. But every once in a while, it gets especially flushed and feels very hot. Not sure why this is.
Key – We don’t live in a particularly unsafe of a neighborhood, but we always lock our doors. Growing up in the country we never locked our doors.
Fuel – I will bring one packet of energy gel if I am running 1:45 (one hour and forty-five minutes) or less, two gels if I am running longer than that.
Road ID – Craig got the Road ID a couple years ago for me. It came with a year online subscription that allowed you to enter emergency contact and medical information if someone would find you and you needed medical attention. The EMTs could access the information with a code on the back of the bracelet. I actually never renewed my online subscription—partially because I didn’t want to pay the money and partially because a friend made it sound like the emergency responders wouldn’t “waste” their time accessing my information online.
GPS – I have the Garmin Forerunner 405 and love it! (Read my review.) I don’t leave home without it. I was hesitant to purchase one at first because of the heafty price tag, but I would definitely buy one again. Plus the Garmin Forerunner 10 is only about $130, which isn’t too bad.
The night before my long run, I also lay out the clothes I want to wear. Sometimes when I leave, Craig is still sleeping, so I put my clothes in the laundry room. This way I don’t wake him when I’m trying to get ready. (Although, he is a pretty heavy sleeper, so he may not even notice.)
I do the same thing during the week. I get dressed and undressed in the furnace room—oh the joys of apartment living. I keep a drying rack in there where I hang my sweaty clothes so they can dry out. Bonus: this room is really warm when I come back from my run in the morning because I will turn the heat on right before I leave.
Depending upon how large my dinner was the night before and how far I am running, determines how much I have to eat before heading out.
If I am really hungry, I will have a full breakfast. These are some of my favorite food to eat before a long run:
– bread and peanut butter (Those bread products could be an English muffin, bagel, toast, etc. Peanut butter is my favorite, but other nut butters work well too.)
– cereal with almond milk
– Luna Bar
If I am not too hungry, I will have 1/3 – 1/2 of a package of energy chews. I will only do this when my runs are shorter and usually less than an hour.
These are some of my favorite energy bites. I will buy these over the gel products because per serving they are cheaper than the energy gels.
This morning, I tried this PowerBar energy food. It tasted like pureed blueberries and bananas, which I think is what it was. It was okay, but it kind of tasted like something you would make for your baby. I got it free at the Boston Marathon expo, so I won’t complain too much.
One optional thing you can do before heading out for your run is paint your fingernails. It is still my favorite time to paint my nails because they can air dry while I run, and I don’t have to worry about smudging the paint.
Today’s nail color choice: Essie Muchi Muchi. I am in love with this color and Essie nail products in general. I have been very pleased with how great the polish goes on, and I do think it lasts the longest of any other brand I’ve tried.
(You can still see where I hurt my palm when I fell off my bike two weeks ago.)
After you are dressed, your fuel tank is full (but not too full), you’ve gathered all the necessary items needed for the run, the next part is the hardest—lacing up those shoes and stepping out the front door.
I know long runs can be intimidating (They still are for me after all these years.), but I promise it will be worth it! If you can make it out the front door, you are golden. (Yes, I still have my winter/Christmas-themed rug out. Hey, there’s still some snow lingering around.)
During the Run
During my long runs, I often split them into two or three smaller segments to help my mind ease up a bit about the number of miles I am about to embark on. And do whatever it takes to keep yourself occupied—listen to music, think about your day, write your next blog post, etc. I can’t really empathize with those who complain they get bored while running. That has never happened to me, so I don’t know what to recommend to help with that.
Today’s run was only 10 miles, so I did one loop through South Anchorage—my favorite 10 mile loop. I was so excited to be able to wear capris today! And no gloves or an ear warmer! Yeah for no more winter.
Since I only had a slice of bread with butter on, plus the PowerBar energy packet, I took my energy gel earlier than I normally would. I usually wait until about 75 minutes into my run, but today I took this after 45 minutes.
I have tried to get better about taking my energy gels before I actually need then rather than waiting until I’m feeling sluggish. Today when I took this energy gel, I was still feeling okay. I never really felt a boost of energy like I sometimes do when I take my fuel (especially those with caffeine), but then again, maybe my energy stayed stable instead of rebounding like it does when I’ve waited too long to take in fuel.
Overall, I like this energy gel. It had a good taste and didn’t have any funky after-taste.
As soon as I got home, I immediately drank a bunch of water. Even though it was overcast and 50* F today, I was parched when I got done. I don’t carry water with me, but if I know I will need some, I will leave a water bottle outside and stop back at home when I need a drink.
I love these electrolyte tablets by Nuun. I have tried several other electrolyte tablets and these are by far my favorite. I use the electrolyte tables when I go on longer run or if I sweat a lot. (Although I am not a heavy sweater.) I have tried several flavors and have loved them all.
Next it is time to take care of those tired muscles with some foam rolling and icing.
I try to spend 10-15 minutes foam rolling using the “hunt and hold” method (I’ve also heard it called the “hunt and peck” method.) I run the foam roller along the muscle until I find a spot that is particularly sore and then hold the foam roller over that spot until the tissue relaxes. It is amazing how well this works!
If I have any areas that bothered me during the run, I make sure to ice them.
I like to take Dixie paper cups, fill them with water, and then freeze them. When I am ready to ice, I peel the paper away and rub the large chunk of ice over the area that is bothering me. I much prefer this method rather than using frozen food (peas) or an ice pack.
Today my icing technique was an ice bath because my legs were in need of icing all over. Besides my hamstring bothering me today, nothing else in particular hurt, but I am starting to ramp up the miles again post-Boston, so I want to be sure to recover the correct way after my runs. Plus, I try to do an ice bath every Saturday in the summer. (There is no way I could do these in the winter.)
After that, it was time to refuel with some food. I always make sure to eat protein and carbs in my post-run meal. I don’t count the protein to carbs ratio. I know it should be 4:1, but I mostly just listen to my body.
Craig made this awesome egg bake for breakfast this morning. It was sososo good! I don’t know how he made it for sure, but I know he used several eggs, sourdough bread, cheese, veggies, and bacon. It totally hit the spot!
By this time I was freezing and hot tea was definitely required. I love this caffeine free herbal tea from Aveda. (It is the same kind you get when you go in for an appointment.) It never ceases to amaze me how sweet it tastes, but there is actually absolutely no sugar in it.
Sometimes my appetite kicks in right away, sometimes it doesn’t kick in until the next day. I was still hungry, so I had this protein bar. I really like the Clif Builder’s protein bars, but the regular ones are too large. (I always end up cutting them in half.) But I saw these at Target the other day and picked them up—just the right size for me.
After you’ve taken care of your muscles, filled your belly with good food, it is time to kick your feet up and relax a bit. Just be careful not to relax too long and allow the lactic acid to build up again—a post long-run walk can be an excellent option later in the day. I would also caution you against gorging on too much food. Just because you ran XX miles doesn’t give you the right to eat everything in sight. Yes, have that special treat or two, but I’ve seen and heard way too many examples of people gaining weight while training for a big race because they felt entitled to eat whatever they wanted. When it comes down to it, listen to your body!
So there you have it, my tips for a (hopefully) successful long run. Now it is your turn to share. . . .
What tips do you have that make your long runs successful?