First off – I’m not a trained running coach, a doctor and my last science class was AP Biology in high school, so the below is what works for me. It might not work for everyone. I’ve been running for 11 years now so I have figured out what works best for me – and I’m still figuring it out every day – but this is what I’ve used to run my past successful four half-marathons in 2013. Also I don’t know what kind of shape you’re in – I have the mentality I can do whatever I put my mind to (aside from being taller than 5’0”) so basically I’ve developed and honed the “crazy runner gene” over the past 11 years.
There was a time in my life where I was terrified to run more than 5 miles. I thought I couldn’t do it. Then one day I had a lot on my mind and went and ran five miles and it was over before I realized what happened. This was in high school – and I still remember it 6-7 8-9 (crap, I’m getting old) years later.
The biggest hurdle of increasing your mileage for the first time is the negative self-talk. I’ve discovered the biggest part of forcing myself to go out and run double-digits in single digit temperatures and piles of snow is telling myself I’m good at what I’m doing, that I’m enjoying it and I’m fully capable of whatever it is I’m trying to do. Once you tell yourself that you’ll leave all the negative self-talk for another time, you’re overcome the hardest (mental) part.
Increasing mileage safely is really important. I add 1-2 miles to my long run each week when I’m increasing my mileage. It works for me, but I also run 1000+ miles a year (rough estimate, but probably close to accurate) so I have a good base. Be sure you have a good base – you can easily run 3-4 miles – before you try to run 5 or 6.
Okay now to the fun part – fueling! Eat a good breakfast. What works best for me I’ve discovered is oatmeal with nut butter and some banana. Be sure you didn’t get wasted the night before and drink a lot of water the day before and the morning of.
Nut butter – essential to long runs. Deliciousness courtesy of Angela.
I also take homemade energy bites or Larabars with me – maybe 100-200 calories worth – if I’m doing anything over 10 miles. If you’re starting out – take it with you for 6+ miles. Sometimes I’m more fatigued than others. Eat something when you’re starting to feel tired – I can tell that my legs feel heavy and I eat something and I get a pep back in my step.
Make my Trail Mix Energy Bites to take with you on your long run.
More important than food is water. I used to never take water with me, which was dumb. When I get dehydrated I start to get really negative. When I start to have negative thoughts, I drink more water – whatever, it might be all in my head but again these are tips that work for me. I have a little 10 oz Amphipod I use. On really hot days and really long runs (think over 12 miles) I either keep more water in my car and make my route stop by there to refill or stop and get water. (One time I stole a little Gatorade out of the machine from Sheetz when I was running near my grandparents house because I was DYING and they didn’t have a water spigot. I didn’t have any money with me. I still feel bad about it… kind of.)
Another important thing for keeping your attention in the run and not giving up and walking home is to have an interesting route. I love trail running because of my cross-country background so usually I do 90% of my runs on a trail. Sometimes if it’s snow covered or I need a change of scenery I go somewhere else.
Have a good playlist to listen to. I recently listened to Madonna’s MDMA Tour Live on Spotify ~1.25 times on a 15 mile run. It actually went by fast in my head because I was jamming out to all of Madonna’s classics. (And let’s be real – she’s great thinspiration fitspiration because she’s in great shape for being in her 50s. Say what you want about her arms being veiny – she’s able to werk it on stage still. You can’t do that without being fit.) I also recently discovered Podcasts and those keep my mind off the insane amount of time I’m spending in the snow, dodging ice and cars. I recommend The Dinner Party.
Finally – have a delicious meal to look forward to. Don’t go eat 1,000 calories in one meal and undo all the hard work you did, but eat something warm (if it’s winter out, duh) and nutritious. I love having a huge salad with some sort of treat – healthy muffin, kabocha, or my 10 Minute Gluten Free Pizza. I also have an almond milk latte after every long run. I don’t know why – it’s just my thing and I look forward to it so it helps me get through it.
Again – these are things that work for me. They may not work for everyone and don’t go trying something new on race day. Rookie mistake.
Chat with me:
Do you do long runs? What are your ways of coping with a long run (or super intense workout/bike ride/swim/whatever)?
I’m joining Lisa from The Skinny on Health for her Fit Tip Tuesday. Head to her blog to see more fit tips!