Preparing for that long run:

Dust off those trainersBe honest, how many of you have thought about entering a marathon, confident in your mind that it doesn’t look that hard? If a 101 year-old plumber can trot around drinking beer and still finish, then what’s stopping you, right?

Cut to two months later. You have your place, you’ve got your new trainers and you’re about to go on your first long-distance run. Off you go…

3 hours later, you stumble home; pale, knackered, nipples bleeding and chafing so bad that you look like you’ve won first place in a John Wayne look-a-like competition. Slumped on your sofa you think to yourself, what went wrong?

A common mistake in training for a long-distance run is starting too strong too soon. Prepare well and you should have no trouble achieving your goals.


Build up gradually.
If you’re not a regular runner or it’s been a while, your first two miles will open your eyes and you should find it quite difficult (when I first started running again I was nearly sick). Don’t be disheartened and try not to push yourself too hard. Forcing yourself to run further than you’re ready for can lead to injury and will slow down your training.

When running at regular intervals you’ll find that you’ll improve very quickly. It’ll become easier to increase the distances slightly each time you go out. Annoyingly, when you stop running that improvement drops off just as quickly.

Check the weather.
Last weekend I went out for a 10k, bundled up in a hoodie, woolly hat and jogging bottoms. After 10 minutes of running the sun came out with a vengeance
and I was sweating so hard I couldn’t see. Draping a hoodie around your shoulders might scream catalogue model but it’s a serious pain when running. Check the weather before you go out and dress accordingly.

Plan your route.
The last thing you want happening on your run is getting lost and running two miles extra than you had planned. Personally, I use Google maps and write street names on my hand like a London cabbie. There are plenty of route finders out there like the Gmaps pedometer or Map My Run. Sites like these actually show you other peoples’ running routes so don’t be surprised if someone is following you during your training.

Focus Energy ShotNutrition.
I’m lucky enough to get sent a lot of nutritional products as writer of this blog. I have had a chance to test out products like Wellman Sport and Focus Energy Shots. Some PRs have even sent through boxes of Nairns Oatcakes, CLIF bars and even offered me children’s milkshakes as sustenance before going on a long run!

While all of these provide the carbs you need before a run (maybe not the milkshakes) there really is no substitute for a big bowl of pasta the night before. I’ve even been told in the past to eat so much pasta that you’re on the verge of throwing up. While I expressly do not condone gorging, a healthy sized portion the night before a run is a perfect way of fuelling your body in preparation for a long-distance jog.

Lube up!
Before I discovered Body Glide (or initially Vaseline) chafing was a very serious problem for me. It can happen anywhere; between your toes, by your armpits, between your thighs and (most painfully of all) on the nipples. The first time I ran more than 5 miles I experienced it and it will completely ruin your run once it has set in.

And don’t just think you can put up with the pain. If you experience it, it will affect your running style and all you will want to do is start walking so the pain will stop. One of this blog’s earliest posts was on chafing. Read up.

Take money.
If you pick up an injury (or the chafing becomes too much) you’ll need a way home. Taking a phone with you may be to much of an inconvenience so fold up a £10 note and put it in your sock. Don’t forget that you could be miles away from home when something happens so having a bus fare will give you piece of mind.

Take a drink.
Is your run likely to last more than an hour an a half? If so, it’s probably worth you taking a bottle of water with you. Personally, I’ve done a half marathon without a bottle of water before. But if it’s hot and you haven’t hydrated properly before a run then I wouldn’t advise it.

Rest.
Running 7 days a week might make you think you’re the Six Million Dollar Man and some people do it. But your body will have no chance to recuperate and you’ll increase your likelihood of becoming ill. Many people pick up a cold before a marathon because they’ve overdone it. Get a good 8 hours the night before and don’t go boozing.

Drink plenty


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One Response to “Preparing for that long run:”

  • […] I was close to home and had my phone on me. I didn’t even have my travel card (follow your own advice Barnard, you idiot). And if you think that is bad enough – going on a 21-mile run without cash, […]

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