Taking to the road or trail for a long run is exhilarating. Preparing for a long run can be challenging and rewarding, whether training for your first marathon or improving your endurance.
This article will provide a comprehensive guide to help you prepare for your next long run. We cover everything from choosing the right running shoes and clothes to fueling your body and dealing with common problems.
What Is Counted as a Long Run?
A long run is generally any run longer than your usual training run. The distance of a long run depends on your experience and goals. For beginners, a long run might be 3-5 miles (5-8 kilometers), while more experienced runners might run 9-12 miles (15-20 kilometers).
For experienced runners, preparation comes naturally. Beginners, however, might find it helpful to have the proper preparation laid out in a simple form.
With the right preparation and mindset, you’ll be well on your way to conquering your next long run with confidence. So, let’s get started!
10 Simple Steps to Prepare for a Long Run
Since you will be running for a longer stretch of time, there will be many steps of preparation you will need to take if you want your run to go smoothly.
1. Choose the Right Running Shoes
A good pair of running shoes can make a big difference in how you perform and how comfortable you feel on longer runs. Choose shoes that suit your running style, foot type, and distance.
Here are a few key factors to consider when selecting the best running shoes for your long run.
Cushioning: A lightweight, responsive shoe may be the best for shorter distances. For longer distances, however, you’ll likely want a shoe with more cushioning and support to help absorb the impact of running for extended periods.
Here are examples of cushioned shoes – Hoka Clifton and Hoka Bondi.
Neutral vs. Stability: Different runners have different foot types, which can affect their need for stability, cushioning, and support. It’s important to choose a shoe specifically designed for your foot type to ensure proper support and comfort.
You can read more about neutral vs. stability running shoes here.
Running style: How you run can also impact the type of shoe you need. For example, if you’re a heel-striker, you’ll likely need more cushioning in the heel to absorb the impact of your footstrike. On the other hand, if you’re a forefoot or midfoot striker, you may need more cushioning in the front of the shoe.
Fit and comfort: Make sure your shoe fits snugly but not too tightly, with enough room in the toe box for your toes to spread out. Look for a comfortable, stable shoe with good arch support and a responsive feel.
2. Prevent Chafing With Proper Clothing
Long runs can be fun – unless you wear the wrong clothing, which can cause chafing. It is underwear that usually causes chafing. Regular underwear might not have the same support or comfort as specific running underwear.
You can also get a pair of running shorts with a built-in liner to prevent chafing and stay cool on long runs.
In case of chafing, treat it as soon as possible. Untreated broken skin could become infected. An aloe vera cream or moisturizer can soothe inflamed skin. Although it won’t cure the condition, it will make the skin less sensitive.
Apply petroleum jelly on top of the moisturizer after it has absorbed into the skin. The jelly will prevent further chafing and give you time to heal.
What Is the Purpose of a Long Run?
The purpose of a long run is to build endurance and stamina. It’s an essential part of running training. It improves cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and endurance and boosts your running performance.
Long runs can also challenge your mental and physical limits since they require discipline and determination.
3. Get Your Gear Ready The Night Before
One of the best things you can do to ensure you get an easy start in the morning is to ensure that everything you will need for your run will be ready the night before.
It is incredibly easy in the rush of a morning, especially if you have a time you want to be out by, to forget something and to not remember until it is too late to go back.
If you are racing, you will want to know what you are planning to wear for the race, and then before this, test out everything you are planning to use o a run of a similar length.
The only exclusion to this may be your racing flats, but make sure that you trust the ones you want to use.
There are some specific types of gear which you will want to take into account if you are running.
For example, you will want to have a running hat as these help stop sweat from getting out of control and staying out of your hair and eyes.
You should also consider investing in running shades, especially if you know you will be running in intense sunlight. These will help you stay clam and controlled while you are running.
Here you can read more about what to wear when running and gear to get you started.
4. Have a Phone and Some Cash On You Just In Case
When you are leaving your home for an extended period of time, you will want to have your phone, cash, or a credit card, as well as some ID on you.
While it is unlikely that you will be planning to use these, there are sometimes emergencies where they will come in handy and you will want them.
There are plenty of simple solutions to carry your phone and other valuables on your long runs.
5. Make Sure Someone You Trust Knows What You Are Doing
This may seem like overkill to some people, but if you are planning to spend a lot of time out on a run, it is a good idea to tell a few people you trust what you are planning on the day of the run.
Sometimes you can find yourself in a precarious situation, and you will want people to know where you are when things like this are happening.
6. Consider A Companion
If you are worried about running in a more dangerous area, or can not help this depending on where you live, we strongly recommend looking into getting a friend to run with you, or joining a running group.
While some people enjoy running by themselves as a therapeutic activity, it can often be a lot safer to have someone join you on the run so you can look out for each other.
Also, running with a friend can also be plenty of fun, so do not knock this option unless you have tried it!
7. Know What To Eat Before a Long Run
You will want to plan what you are going to eat at least a few days before you are running.
This will direct effect how you are performing while you are running.
There is no quick solution or magic food which will make your run better, you will want a good balanced diet to ensure that you are getting the right nutrition to fuel your body.
Why Are Long Training Runs Beneficial?
Long and easy training runs are essential to preparation if you’re training for a long-distance event. They help build the endurance and stamina necessary to complete the event and provide an opportunity to practice your fueling and hydration strategies.
Running long distances develops cardiovascular fitness, increases muscle strength and endurance, and improves running performance. Over time, you can run longer distances with less fatigue by gradually increasing the length of your long runs.
8. Make Sure To Check The Weather
This is another deceptively simple piece of advice, but you will definitely want to know what the weather conditions will be like the night before you are running.
Some types of weather will obviously postpone the run, but others will just mean you will have to make adjustments. So, knowing what to expect the night before makes this all easier.
9. Make Sure You Know What You Will Want To Eat Mid-Run
As well as prepping what you are eating the few days before you are running, there is a high chance that you will need nutrition while you are running.
This could come in the form of energy gel, in the form of salt tablets, perhaps an energy drink, or sometimes just water. Testing out these products is a great way to know what works for you!
10. Ensure That The Route Is Fully Planned
There is nothing which will break your momentum quicker than getting lost on your run, so of course you will want to know your route in and out before running.
Sometimes this will not be necessary if you know the area well, but if you do not, this step should not be skipped.
One more tip: This may seem obvious, but it is amazing how many people overlook it.
Get Enough Sleep
You will want to not only ensure that you are getting a good amount of sleep the night before your long run, but also the night before that as well.
This will ensure that you are properly rested, and your body will have sufficient energy for the upcoming run.
While many people do not consider this, if you make your sleep schedule better, you will very quickly notice the change in your energy while running!
Running longer requires some preparation if you want your run to go smoothly.
All of these steps should at least be considered before you do a long run so you can ensure that you will avoid any potential issues while you are running!
But what to eat after a long run? Here are tips for snacks that can help with recovery after a run.