1) Rest up
Be prepared to go the distance by giving your body rest the day before. A short walk or even a very slow run is beneficial to help stay loose and flexible. Just don’t overdo it. This is not the time to test out a new squat routine or take the kids to the amusement park.
2) Be weather-prepared
This might seem like a no-brainer, but a long run will require most runners to be outside for a few hours. Thunderstorms, extreme heat or cold, or ice are obvious barriers, but even a pop-up shower can make things very frustrating. Readjust your goal pace if conditions are less than ideal.
3) Be fuel-prepared
Every runner is different in the way they like and can ingest calories over a long run. Sports drinks, sports bars, gels, gummies, dried fruit, nuts, etc. are just a few of the most popular. Experiment with a few different things to find out what works best for you. Here’s what you should be eating before your long runs.
4) Stay hydrated
Plan to carry your hydration or know where you can obtain it as you run. There are countless options to stay hydrated on the go such as waist packs, backpacks, or handhelds. Some runners might luck out with a route that has access to water fountains. Have a plan in place in case you need extra hydration.
5) Avoid chafing
Chafing can occur even on shorter runs, but it often rears its ugly head over longer distances. Vaseline or products such as Body Glide can reduce the friction in troublesome areas. Apply it before running and don’t be shy about using it excessively.
6) Explore new places
Long runs give runners the opportunity to break out of the mid-week routine and check out new scenery. Whether you run solo or in a group, look for new spots to get the long run miles in.
7) Buddy up
Even if it’s just for a few short miles, a running friend can help make the miles fly by. They can join you at any point in the run, but having them help out in the final few miles is usually the best. It will give you something to look forward to and help you finish strong.
8) Cool down
Though you might not feel the urge to walk another step, try to walk for approximately 10 minutes post-run. The goal is to bring your heart rate down as well as begin the recovery process to your body.
9) Refuel quickly
Eat and/or drink a couple hundred calories within 30 minutes of finishing. The preferred ratio is 4:1 carbohydrates to protein. A small meal within a couple of hours with the same ratio will assist with recovery and make it easier next time you lace up.
10) Take notes
Jot down what worked and what didn’t within in a few hours of finishing. It can be easy to forget the highs and lows from week-to-week. Make notes of anything you did differently and review your strengths and weaknesses from the run. Over time, it’s likely patterns will emerge that you can use to help tweak strategies that work best for you.