Five Things To Make Your Long Run Successful

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It’s marathon season and many of you are prepping for races with weekly long runs. Long runs are the cornerstone for any successful race prep. Having a solid pre-run routine will keep you performing at your best and make your runs as successful as possible.

The following pre-run routines are the ones that I follow that will also keep your long runs dialed in and you performing at your best.

Nutrition

Pre-run nutrition is probably the most debated topic of all pre-run routines. From my experience, there is no one size fits all solution. What follows is my best advice based upon my years of endurance training.

What works for you nutrition-wise will take months of experimentation. So don’t get discouraged if you don’t have your plan dialed in right away. Some important things for you to consider are:

  • How long your run is
  • Your ability to eat and digest food without having stomach problems during your run
  • Whether or not you are fat-adapted

If you are fat-adapted, you may not need to eat any food at all. If you are not sure if you are fat-adapted, then try experimenting without eating before your run. Training in a fat-adapted state may actually allow you to tap into your fat stores come race day if need be, preventing the all infamous bonk.

If you are not fat-adapted, then you will more than likely need some fast digesting, non-fibrous carbs before you walk out the door.

Personally, I prescribe to the “Train Low, Race High” philosophy which focuses on training in a fat-adapted state, but racing with your glycogen tanks topped off. For some, this means a strict Keto Diet. For me, I employ more of a cyclical Keto Diet where I focus on protein throughout the day, fats in the morning, and carbs at night. And then after a night of sleep, my glycogen levels are pretty low again and I am back ready to train in my fat-adapted state.

So the big question, do I eat before my long runs? And the answer is no (most of the time). At a minimum, I like to consume 5–10g of EAA’s (Essential Amino Acids) as they have been proven to help stave off muscle loss as your body goes looking for energy. Other foods that I will consider and sometimes consume are:

  • 1–2 eggs
  • 1/2–1 serving of sardines
  • Coffee with 1 tbsp of MCT oil
  • 1/2–1 banana (if i want carbs)
  • 1 piece of dry toast (if i want carbs)

One more thing. If you are within two months of your race, you should practice your pre-race nutrition as your pre-run training nutrition. Doing so will allow you to practice and make adjustments in case your body cannot tolerate what you plan on doing for race day.

Fluids

If my long run is anytime on or after the lunch hour, then I leisurely drink water, tea, or coffee throughout the morning and day. I will however stop drinking at least 60 minutes prior to leaving for my run.

If I am going to run first thing in the morning, then I will drink 6–12 ounces of fluids upon waking. I like to focus on water, lemon water, or green tea at least 30 minutes prior to my run. If I feel like I need coffee, then I will consume about 4–6 ounces at least 60 minutes prior to my run. Be careful though, as too much caffeine can disrupt your digestive system. Personally, I like to save my coffee for after my run as a nice reward.

Gear

Before every long run, you should evaluate the weather and compare it to the length of time you plan on being outside to see what plans you need to make.

The first thing to consider is temperature. As a rule of thumb, you should dress as if the temperature is going to be 10 degrees warmer than it actually is outside. And if your run is going to be super hot and/or super long, then you should also consider a hydration pack.

The other weather variables besides the temperature to consider are wind and rain. Wind and rain may require additional layers or weather proof clothing such as a solid jacket.

Lastly, I know shoes should go without saying. But what you might not know is that you should consider buying shoes that are half a size larger than what you would normally wear. Doing so, will help keep your feet blister free during your run as feet tend to swell during runs.

Warmup

Before running, you’re going to want to warmup. For me, that is stretching as well as performing activation exercises. And to clarify, I don’t do any static stretching, I only perform dynamic stretches.

My dynamic stretching routine, consists of the following:

  • Leg swings, front to back, keeping my leg as straight as possible
  • Leg swings, side to side, keeping my leg as straight as possible
  • Walking lunges
  • Side to side lunges

For muscle activiation, I will perform the following:

  • Wrap the heavy resistance band around my legs while sitting and perform a clamshell
  • Use Skillz bands for standing half moons, initiating the movement with my glutes
  • Standing glute kickbacks using the Skillz bands
  • Lateral steps using the Skillz bands
  • Body weight squats

Last But Not Least

Last, but surely not least, are two pre-run routines that are 100 percent an absolute must.

First, make sure you use an anti-chafing cream or stick on any places where you might have skin rubbing on other skin or clothing. Common areas include armpits, toes, chest, and buttocks.

And secondly, make a quick stop to the bathroom before leaving the house.

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Steven Bergsman

Steven Bergsman

Steven is a technologist, part-time investor, fitness expert, endurance athlete, biohacker, nutrition nerd, and lover of all things coffee.