Long Run Tips
We talk a lot about what to do DURING our long runs, but what about before? What about after? Here's some tips we've learned over the years that might help you.
WEEK OF THE BIG RUN
Be sure to hydrate well all week long and try to eat as healthy as possible. This will help prevent dehydration and provide your with energy during the long run, especially during July and August!
THE DAY BEFORE
Here’s a few things that you can do to make the weekend a little easier.
Get all of your errands done.
Rent a couple of videos that are easy on the mind.
Lay out your clean clothes for after your post-run shower.
Put bottle of water and/or sports drink in freezer for the post-run cooler (see below).
Pack your Post-Run bag: a towel to dry off with, a big towel to sit on in the car, sandals, clean running shorts (optional), clean tee shirt, clean baseball cap and put it in the car!
Clip your toenails as short as possible. It may prevent you from losing one of them on a long run.
Eat a nice meal. Be sure to get plenty of carbs. Protein helps too. Pasta dishes with chicken and/or veggies is one of my favorites. Eat well, but don’t overdo it. Otherwise, you’ll be heavy and sluggish the next morning.
Try to get a good night’s sleep.
THE MORNING OF THE RUN
The alarm has gone off (what time is it??!!) and you drag out of bed. Many of us just pull on our clothes and hit the door. But, you should consider a light pre-race meal – a bagel with some peanut or almond butter, a sports bar or whatever works for you. Be sure to drink some fluids to help top off the tank.
For those coffee lovers, you should experiment carefully with caffeine. Caffeine is known to have a “cleansing” effect on some. If you haven’t mixed caffeine and running before, it may be worthwhile to experiment on a shorter run to find out how your body might react.
Also, consider applying some body glide for those areas that chafe easily. You will be thankful during that post-race shower!
AFTER THE RUN What Should I Have in the Trunk of My Car? Your Post-Run Cooler with stuff to drink, (we have drinks after each run, but you may want to bring your personal favorites); your Post-Run Bag containing clothes to change into; a laundry bag to stash your dirty gear, and a clean towel to sit on in the car.
Freeze at least a liter bottle of water and/or fluid replacement drink (Powerade, Gatorade, etc.). It will thaw out during the run. Drink it on the way home.
What should you rehydrate with?
Plain water or a sports drink (Power Aid,Gatorade)?
What works for you?
Don't know? Try both.
One of the best things we have found is the Endurox R4 - it does seem to help recovery so much better than just water because it has a card/protein mix. It is almost always available after our long runs.
"Full strength" (non-diluted) sports drinks works well to replenish my fluids AFTER a summer run. It seems to have more "body," the electrolytes help me retain more of the fluid than straight water.
The key is getting a drink that has both carbs and protein to help replenish the body.
The best time to reload your body's fuel is within 30-45 minutes of your workout. Stick a banana or bagel with peanut butter in the ice chest to munch on going home. Post-run snacks will usually be available too.
We can always tell if we have "carbed" (fueled) correctly during and after a long run when we don't have an insatiable hunger for the rest of the day.
Change your Clothes!
Break out your post-run bag and put some dry clothing on! Sandals or flip flops are great on the feet after a long morning with the running shoes. Its amazing what dry clothes and a change of shoes can do for the mind and body!
Chill!! (Your LEGS, that is.) When you run over 15-miles, how are you going to re-establish friendship with your legs? They are going to be sore.
The secret: cool them off immediately with water. They do it to race horses, why not you? A trainer once told me that chilling is effective up to 3 hours after an event.
Cool your legs by doing any or all of the following. (Listed in order of Less Intense to Most Intense.) It’s usually easier to tolerate before taking that hot shower since you know the warm water is just a few minutes away!
Hose them off in the front yard before you go into the house. It is not the pressure of the water, it is the cool temperature that does the work.
Sit in a bathtub half-full of cool/cold water for 10-15 minutes. Your LEGS won't get cold, but your feet will and . . . other parts will. Suck it up. You are doing it for your recovery, it will be worth it! This "tub method" is a good way to hasten recovery after a marathon when you are in a hotel.
Sit in a bathtub half-full of cool/cold water WITH A COUPLE OF BAGS OF ICE THROWN IN for 10-5 minutes. Cool is good, cold is better, so just suck it up! This will knock off a couple of days in your recovery cycle, a good thing. Besides, you can boast your practice to your running pals and proclaim how good your legs felt afterwards.
Fill a garbage can full of ice & water and stand in it as you eat your post-race meal. This is how the pros do it.
Whatever you do, COOL THOSE LEGS OFF!! No kidding, it really will help your recovery.
Indulge Yourself (Just a little)
Comfort food. (WARNING: Just because you are a marathon runner does not mean you can eat anything you want, as much as you want. Well, you can, but you will also gain weight.) A good mix of protein and carbs is a good way to go.
Watch a couple of videos, fishing on OLN, golf, the Cooking Channel, anything to put you to sleep on the couch.
THE DAY AFTER
The easiest thing to do the day after a long run is to sit back and relax. But, your recovery will go much faster if you get up and do a little light exercise OTHER THAN RUNNING. The exercise will help flush out the lactate acid and help get rid of that “dead leg” or heavy feeling. Here are a few ideas:
Take a walk
Swim. Swimming is a great cross train activity, especially for runners since there’s minimal wear and tear on the body and it provides tons of cardio benefits.
Cycling – If you have a bike, hit the road for a light spin. No bike? Consider taking a spin class with a light setting on the spin wheel.
Try to avoid strength training or anything that will place a lot of stress on the legs.