4 Ways to Make Your Long Runs More Effective

Your Long Run Is Not a Race

Some of my worst marathons have come on the heels of my best long runs. Months of training and staying healthy were gone in just under three hours. Don't make the same mistake I did.

Turns, out I was racing during my long runs. I had a goal for race day and I was putting it to the test during my long runs (instead of doing a race simulation). As a result, the fatigue I racked up was simply too much for me to recover in time for race day.

Here are some ways you can avoid racing during your long run:

  • Don't do your long run with others who will push or test you. Save that for a track or speed session
  • Be cautious if you're doing a training run on the race course—you'll be tempted to run as if you're racing
  • Set a pace cap—a speed you will not exceed—and follow it closely
  • Start slowly. Use the first 3 to 6 miles as a chance to get warmed up and build into your run
  • Avoid overly hilly terrain for the entire run. If your race will have hills, make the last few miles of the long run reflect the course.

More: 6 Ways to Run at the Right Pace

Mastering Long-Run Nutrition

While everyone thinks about time and pace during the long run, there's very little return on that on race day. Your race-day performance will ultimately dictate your pace and time. However, how you run your marathon is directly affected by your nutrition.

Your key long-run sessions are excellent opportunities to practice good pre-race nutrition and figure out what fueling options work for you during your run. Of course, you can't replicate the nerves you'll experience, but you can establish positive habits that will help you on race day.

  • Hydrate the day before; you don't want to show up at the start line low on fluids
  • Wake up early and eat two-and-a-half hours prior to your long run. Don't switch things up race morning; follow your nutrition plan
  • Have your pre-race gel
  • Use a fuel belt or hydration pack to hold fluids during the race. If necessary, plan a loop run or out-and-back so that you can refuel
  • Monitor how you felt during your run, and make some notes soon after finishing so you can remember what you did well and figure out what you can do to improve.

More: The New Rules of Marathon Nutrition: Fuel Plan

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