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Try out handy tips for long-distance running

Long distance runs are in one way the best moment of the week: a few hours to myself with no phone, screen, or way to contact me. At the same time, they usually involve getting up early (or at least earlier than I’d like) on a Sunday which is a slight downfall!

I’m currently planning for my autumn marathon which means I’m regularly averaging over 100km a week which necessarily means a 30+ kilometre run at the weekend. Having done this for a number of years now, it doesn’t take too much planning. However, there are some unwritten rules I normally have at the back of my mind so here are a few tips which will hopefully be helpful to have a great, productive and/or fun long run:

Firstly, set your alarm at a sensible time!

You want to eat at least an hour before setting off and, realistically, you’ll probably have a few small (or long) breaks so your “2 hour run” may actually take 4 hours once you include the hour after breakfast, the 2 hours of running, the 30 minutes of stopping at traffic lights/for a drink and the half hour stretching/having a shower afterwards. So, if you’re meeting friends at noon, you’ll be needing to get up by 8, not 10!

Try new routes

Running for a few hours can be rewarding but running through a familiar urban landscape can really make you question your life choices on a wet winter morning. If available, try a new route with interesting scenery. If time is an issue and/or you’re worried about being tired far from home and stuck, get a train out to your set distance and plan a route home.

Plan before you leave

If you want to run a certain distance and aren’t too familiar with distances or your surroundings, get your phone (or, if old school, your map) out and measure the distance out. Try to avoid too many complicated changes in direction and, sometimes, the easiest will be to plan a 10 mile run and simply run back from it. Half the mental effort, equal distance!

Time on legs often matters more than speed

Obviously, walking for 4 hours won’t help you come race day. However, running at 15 seconds/mile slower for 3 hours and getting to the end of the run will be much more useful on race day than sprinting through the first hour and having to get the bus home.

Communicate with your partner

If your partner isn’t an athlete and really doesn’t get running and why you need to go home at a sensible time the night before and get out of bed while all they want is a cuddle: communicate! Explain the training cycle, explain the importance of putting the effort in now, tell them how much happier they’ll be to only have to listen you complain about aches and pains for a few days rather than weeks post race!

Be toilet savvy

Doing a long run and never crossing the same spot twice is a good objective but, sometimes, bowels have their own minds after a few hours. Planning loops which either take you past your house or public toilets may be sensible. You can also refill your water bottles that way (at home. Don’t use the public toilets!).

If training for a marathon, increase your mileage gradually

Running for a few hours will impact your body and it needs to be sufficiently ready for it: the standard rule is not to increase your mileage by more than 10% a week. Depending on your fitness levels, I’d say you can probably flex that rule a little bit but listen to your body and give it enough rest after your long run!

Finally, running alone may get boring so you may bring a friend along

Great idea but remember that chatting while running will slow you down. By itself, that’s not a problem but take it into account if you’ve got a specific pace you want to be running at or a specific time you need to be back by!

I hope this is of help – if you want to see how that’s helped me in my running, have a look at my running reviews on www.80runs.co.uk!