Long Run Preparation

by Patti Finke, MS ,Coach Portland Marathon Training Clinic, Team Oregon

Preparing for that long weekend run starts with the whole week's training.  Weekend warriors don't do well as the runs progress in distance.  If life gets the way of your training, try to complete, at least, the longer midweek runs.  Remember, if you miss a day, it's gone and forgotten.  Do NOT add the mileage to another run.  Don't try to do longer or harder days the day before your long run.  You need an easy day before the run.  That means either a day off or a shorter day.  If you don't feel like doing the runs during the week, that could indicate you worked too hard (went too fast or too far) the weekend before.

Food and hydration are important aspects of the long run.  Eat a high carbohydrate meal for dinner about 12 hours before the start of the run.  Watch the consumption of alcoholic beverages, they tend to dehydrate.  If you have that glass of beer or wine, drink at least one glass of water, better yet, 2 glasses for each beer or wine consumed.

Plan to awaken 2 hours before the start time and experiment with eating breakfast.  Some simple suggestions are: toast, bagel, cereal, yogurt, bananas, juice and water.  If you normally drink coffee, continue to do so.  The coffee or food stimulates the guts and helps rid the body of the previous day's food.   Drink at least one glass of water at home and bring a full water bottle with you.  Drink half of that water before and half after the run.  Have some clothing options along as well if you are driving a ways from home.  The weather may be changeable and being either over or under dressed makes the run miserable.   Bring some dry clothes for afterwards.

If you are going to be running longer than an hour and aid stations are not on your route, bring a water bottle along on the run or plan your run where you have access to water on the route. You need 6 -8 oz. of water for every 15 - 20 minutes of exercise.  Dehydration leads to poor performance, discomfort, and soreness that may persist for days.  As the long runs progress to over 2 hours in duration, it is important to consume carbohydrates to keep the liver glycogen stores replenished.    Take in 100 -200 calories of carbohydrate per hour.  You can use sports drinks, sports bars or gels or some simple sugars such as jellybeans and gummi bears.  The caveat with bars, gels and candy is that they require water to get them into the proper concentration in the gut to be absorbed.  Half a bar or half a gel pack requires 8 - 12 ounces of water to be absorbable.  Sports drinks were developed to be at the proper concentration.  The sports drinks encourage fluid consumption from the addition of flavor and some salts.

Studies show that pre exercise stretching does not prevent injury and may, in fact, cause some, due to improper techniques.  The best time to stretch is after a run when the muscles are warm and loose.  You can also go home, take a warm shower and then do a complete stretching program.

When you are finished with the long run you should feel pleasantly tired and like you could do it again tomorrow if you had to.   If you are exhausted and are not hungry for several hours, that should tell you that you were working too hard.

Your muscles are most receptive to refilling their glycogen stores in the first 2 hours after the run.  This is the time you need to eat.  Have some sports drink and sports bars in your car so you can start refueling immediately.  The glycogen goes into the muscles better if it's consumed with some protein.  Stop for the bagel with peanut butter or the non-fat latte rather than the scone at the coffeehouse.  Have the turkey sandwich with the lettuce and tomatoes or the pancakes with scrambled eggs.  All those thoughts and all that talk about food during the run indicate that your body needs refueling.  Don't forget the water.

Checklist (never leave valuables or money in your car, take it with you)

  • Running clothes & shoes (take more clothes than you think you need in case the weather changes).
  • Dry shirt, shoes and socks for afterward
  • Water
  • Sports Drink
  • Snacks
  • Money

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