Happy Friday! What are your weekend plans?
More pertinently, what is your long run this weekend?
Many runners are increasing their long runs as they begin training for fall marathons and half marathons, while others extend their runs to enjoy the nicer weather.
The steps on this long run checklist are fairly basic, but oftentimes it helps to have everything written down in one place. As the temperature rises, we need the reminder also to dress for warmer weather, hydrate well, and take all the little steps to prevent bonking, chafing, or sunburn.
For new marathoners or half marathoners, these tips will make your long runs go more smoothly. With everything from hydration to the proper gear accounted for, all you have to worry about is the distance – which is the fun part!
Pre Long Run Checklist
1. Eat your pre long run snack.
Long runs by definition require an upwards of 90 minutes of running, even up to 3 to 4 hours for 20 mile long runs during marathon training. You would not start on a road trip with your gas empty light flashing, so apply the same logic to running and don’t start on an empty stomach – especially if you are doing your long run first thing in the morning! A pre long run snack goes a long way in keeping you energized for the miles ahead and preventing runger later in the day.
The size of snack and when it’s eaten before the run varies based on the individual runner’s preferences, fueling needs, and strength of stomach. Foods like bananas, toast, sweet potatoes, dates, and oatmeal make excellent pre-run meals due to their high amounts of carbohydrates. Most runners do best eating 1-2 hours before their long run to allow time for digestion. Experiment and find what works with you!
2. Gather your gels, water, or electrolyte tablets.
Some runners can have trained themselves to be efficient in their use of glycogen, especially for half marathon long runs. But for marathon training runs over 2 hours or newer half marathons, quickly absorbed simple carbohydrates will provide you with the energy to keep running once your body has burned through your stored carbohydrate. There’s no need to guzzle gels during your entire run; pack about 1 gel for every 45-60 minutes, although it never hurts to bring an emergency gel in case you drop one or bonk.
Dehydration during long runs can cause nausea, fatigue, and a whole host of problems. Especially if you are accustomed to completing your long runs without water during the cooler winter months, proper hydration needs to be a priority on your summer long runs. Carry water with you or plan your route near public water fountains and drink to thirst on your long runs. On very hot days or if you’re a salty sweater, it may not hurt to take electrolyte tablets or fill your water bottle with Nuun or a homemade sports drink to provide extra electrolytes.
3. Check the weather and dress appropriately.
I don’t know about where you live, but here in Seattle the summer heat seems to have arrived without warning. My immediate instinct each morning is to don my favorite Saucony bullet shorts and a long sleeve running shirt, but some mornings now are too hot for that!
Avoid wearing too many clothes out of habit and check the weather each morning (or if you run early in the AM, the night before so you can lay the appropriate clothes out). While individual preferences vary, once the heat reaches 65 degrees or high humidity sets in, choose a wicking tank or short sleeve shirt, shorts, wicking socks, and a good sports bra if you’re a woman. And don’t forget to weather-proof your hair by taking extra steps to prevent tangles!
When in doubt, dress as if it’s ten degrees warmer than it actually is, and err on the side of underdressing rather than overdressing during the summer months.
4. Plan your route.
I don’t know about you, but I hate getting lost on a long run or running back and forth in circles past my car because I didn’t plan my route out. Whether you’re running an out and back, a loop, or a point to point route, plan it ahead of time. This is an issue of safety as well; it’s good to alert family members of your planned route. Thanks to Map My Run, there’s not need to pull the old trick of driving your route ahead of time (which is difficult and probably illegal anyway if you’re running trails!).
5. Let someone know your plans.
Expanding on the previous tip, let your significant other or a close friend know when you’re running, where you will be running, and how long you plan to be out there. It’s always better to be overcautious in this regard, especially since all you need to do is text or make a quick phone call. In case of an emergency such as if you sprain an ankle, encounter an angry animal, or get lost, you want someone to be easily able to locate you.
6. Prevent Chafing and Sunburn
Summer means less clothing and sweaty skin, which can cause uncomfortable chafing on long run. Apply some Bodyglide or coconut oil to sensitive spots such as the inner thighs, sports bra line along the breastbone for ladies, and underarms.
Don’t forget your sunscreen! It’s easy to fall out of the habit of wearing sunscreen during the cold and dreary winter months, but longer daylight hours and higher sun visibility mean an increased risk of sunburn or sun damage to your skin. Apply SPF 30 or higher sunscreen to any exposed skin, particularly your face, ears, and neck, about a few minutes before heading out on your run. For extra protection from the sun, wear a hat and plan on running on a shaded route if possible.
7. Perform some dynamic stretches and activate your glutes.
Your long run will feel significantly better from start to finish if you warm up your muscles and joints with some dynamic stretches, such as this quick routine. Exercises that mobilize your hips and work your glutes to activate those powerhouse muscles work well also. If you still don’t feel warmed up after these, walk for 5 minutes or as your GPS watch searches for signal and then you’re good to go!
What’s your go-to pre long run snack?
How far are you running for your long run this weekend?
What would you add to this list?