Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tips for awesome long runs

Long runs can be tough. And yet, if you looking to run a half-marathon, full marathon, or just want to improve your endurance, they are a necessary part of training.

Ideally, as you'd go through a training cycle all of your long runs would be nothing but awesome. You'd cover all your miles, hit your paces, and enjoy the many hours spent running.

This doesn't always happen, does it? No. In order for all of that long run awesomeness to fall into place, you have to prepare and set yourself up for long-run success.

Recently, I took stock about what has worked for me on my long runs and I thought I'd share my tips in case they might help you as well. So, here you go!

Happy Runner Tips For Awesome Long Runs!

1. Grab your pals!

The first time I trained for a marathon, I ran alone. Every. Single. Run. Alone. It was fine and I don't mind running alone. But, man. Running 18 miles with a friend -- or many friends -- is WAY better. Way. Running pals make the miles fly by and help you through the tough spots. They can give you a boost when your energy starts to dip. Running with friends is probably the single most important ingredient for my long run success this time around. 

I love my running buddies!


2. Compression rules!

I can't say enough about my CEP compression socks. They are The Best. I love them. I've been wearing them for my long runs for about a year and I truly believe they have helped my legs feel better during the runs and afterward. I usually only wear them for runs and races of 15K or more.

Here I am sporting the green CEPs in my half-marathon last April:

I don't stop once my run is over, though. After all of my long runs (and after I clean up from them), I pull on a lighter pair of compression socks and wear them for the rest of the day to enhance my recovery. I highly recommend wearing compression socks for your long runs and races! (HERE is some information on the benefits of compression socks -- increased blood flow, etc.)

3. Drink up!

I looooooove my smoothies! I pack mine with yogurt, berries, chlorella, flax, chia seeds -- and credit them for giving me extra energy throughout the day.

4. Speed up!

Don't curse me, please.

I just simply believe that running too slow causes your running form to suffer. So, I tend to go out on my long runs at the faster end of my recommended pace range and I believe my runs are better because of that. I also try to pick up the pace at the end, or add on a few strides. This helps my legs run the way they are supposed to run. It probably doesn't work for everyone, but it works for me. 

(Now, I'm not speeding through my 18-milers, believe me. I'm just running a 9:30 pace, rather than 10:30 and that's made a difference. I feel better. I'm not slogging.)

5. Gel on!

For me, Chocolate Clif Shot Gels are the thing. I take one every 5 miles during my long runs (5/10/15 miles), which equates to about every 45-50 minutes. I carry water in a hand-held bottle so I'm ready to gel at any time. Being consistent about when I take my gels has helped my body become used to them and has helped me to avoid cramps.

6. Get out early!

I am not a morning person. Not. At. All. But here I am recommending that you hit the road early. In the past, I'd go out for my long runs at 9 or 10 or whenever I found the time. Now, I'm getting up and going early. This is good for two key reasons: 

1) I don't have time to eat a breakfast that needs to digest for 2 hours before I can run. When I'm meeting people for a long run at 7, I have to grab some coffee, water and maybe a banana while I'm getting ready. No dilly-dallying. 

2) Marathons (and half-marathons) tend to be scheduled for early in the morning. Doing all of my long runs right around projected race start time preps my body to run long and well come marathon day. Also, the consistency in my timing is making each long run better, because my body is getting more and more used to running long at that time. Win!

7. Roll out!

The foam roller, a tennis ball, and the Stick have been my friends for a long time now. Once I started training for half-marathons and marathons they became some of my best friends. I use the Stick before every run. I foam roll after every run. I use the tennis ball to break up tight spots as soon as I notice them. (Read: All the time.)

Taking care of little aches and tight spots prevents them from becoming injuries. A major key to long run success!

There you have it, folks. My tips for long run awesomeness! 

What is your favorite long run tip or routine? How do you make your long runs awesome?

~ Felice


MizFit said...

Dear Felice,



Tami mommy of Ten said...

I have the ingredients to make some smoothies. I will try one after this weekends long run. I still need to buy a tennis ball, compression socks and a stick. Maybe they should be on my gift list to myself.:) Great job on your long runs!

Darlene said...

I agree with all of these (except love Vanilla Gu). Hope to run long again someday!!

Kierston @CaNdY FiT said...

Thanks for the tips! I'm working on my longer runs :)

Emily B. said...

Very timely post- I'm training for my first half in two weeks, and just had my first not great long run. I think I know why it wasn't great- mainly I had a weird bout of insomnia last week that just obviously tired me out- but these are good tips. Once I get a few more longer runs (over 10 miels) under my belt, I'm going to work on speed with your suggestions, but for my first I figure taking it slow it ok!

Marlene said...

I definitely think it's all (or mostly) about setting yourself up for a successful long run.

Also, I find that higher overall mileage plays a role in feeling stronger on the long run. If your weekly mileage is 25 miles, a 20 miler is going to feel HARD! I have heard that the ideal ratio is for long runs to make up about 1/3 of weekly mileage and certainly no more than half. This seems to be the right formula for me!

Melissa said...

I will have try running in my compression socks on the next long run. I usually wear them for the rest of the day after the run. I also agree with you on running with friends. You and the group have made these long runs so much more fun than running them solo!

Anonymous said...

Love smoothies - so quick, versatile, and yummy!!!

Holly said...

These are great! My current need is for a handheld water bottle. What one do you recommend? Thanks!!

Elle said...

Such a good and helpful post. I am training for my first half and have learned some of these lessons already!

I really believe in the SPEED thing. I was running my LSRs tooooo slow and it was like 'slogging' and I did have bad form and sore hips. Thanks for confirming my own belief on this issue.

RunToTheFinish said...

ohhh compression, i swear it has changed my training!!

side note: if you go back to addthis and update your twitter account it will automatically put it in the tweets, right now it says via @addthis unless someone changes it

faith120604 said...

These are great tips! I'm training for my first half as well, and the long runs are some of the longest I've done to date. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

Anonymous said...

I am reading this running fast thing for the first time and I swear I have felt that way too. I believe if I run faster I sore less, I run better, unbelievable! I didn't give any credit to myself but now that you mention it at least I know I am not crazy! Thanks for sharing!!!

Felice Devine said...

Holly -- I have a Nathan hand held and really like it. I found it at Marshall's for $7!!

Felice Devine said...

Ruth and Elle -- Glad you agree! When I force myself to really slow down on long runs I have more aches and pains! I'm really not going FAST on these long runs, just getting in a decent rhythm and running probably faster than some would prescribe. It feels so much better and I swear my recovery is faster!

Jim said...

Hi Felice.
I'm looking forward to getting back into my long runs after a loooooong recovery from some knee issues.
I like the tip about running faster. It sounds a little like the 'Run Less Run Faster' approach. I've only just cracked the cover on that book. Have you checked it out?
But chocolate ClifShots? For real? It's gotta be mocha for me! LOL

KT80 said...

I picked up a pair of compression sleeves (Nathan brand, $6 at TJ Maxx), and wonder if the sleeves help in a run too or are they just for temperature?

Jamie said...

Love these! I'm doing my first 20 miler tomorrow and some of these are definitely going to be used. Thanks for the tips!

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