Beit on a marathon or half marathon run plan, Your first long run on week 1 or maybe week 2, is likely to hit the 60-minute mark. Some plans focus and favour the time on your feet approach over the set mileage, so this will depend on our training programme. Either way, whether you’re hitting 6 miles or 60 minutes, you’re into the longer run territory which can be a daunting prospect, especially for beginners.
If this is you: do not fret. We have all gone through the same self-torturing ‘oh my, can I even do this?’ thoughts. Rest assured, this response is completely normal!
Even if you are a well-seasoned 5k runner, making the step into the half marathon-marathon distances is enough to turn your legs into jelly, until today.
Because today I aim to help you prepare and hold your hand through your first long run (because once you’ve done it once, it gets easier I promise). Some of these things are common sense, some you may not have even considered, so here we go.
Everything you need to get through the long run.
First things first, you need comfortable shoes.
Being on your feet longer needs a real investment in the shoe department, otherwise, you are at significant risk of injures, blisters, toenail friction injuries before you have even started. So consider the race you have signed up for or, is it on-road or trail? (The style of shoe differ a fair bit, you don’t want to be sliding around in the trails with road shoes and zero grip) think of a road car trying to get through a boggy field, and you’ll know how that I mean.
You may think this only goes for races but that would be false. For every run you do, you must be sufficiently fuelled. 30-60 minutes before a run is optimal for your snack it could be a banana or PB Bagel for example. Focus on carbohydrates your body can break down for energy throughout your run.
*If your run exceeds 90 minutes, a 50g carb meal 1-2 hours before would be better, also take a few jelly sweets along with you to help restore energy levels and keep you going.
Are you hydrated?
Yes before lacing up, ask yourself – have you drank enough water today? Have you done the urine test? (Check the colour of your urine, if it is dark then take on more water before you head out. If it is light or clear, you’re good to go!)
A lot of people ask how to stay hydrated on the run, and this is completely up to you – there are so many options! I personally carry a Camelpack rucksack when I hit long runs, others like the hydration belt style with two or three 250ml bottles on the hips. Otherwise, you could keep water in the car and run laps stopping off at the car when you need a drink. One running friend used to hide water bottles in hedges and bushes along his route before he ran it – He didn’t have to carry anything and a drink was ready at certain points of his run.
Get the clothing right.
Check the weather before you go anywhere! For me in the UK, it rains at the most inopportune time and without warning – so I always pack a rain jacket when I’m out running. Although, You may find you need a specific clothing material for the summer months and a separate running wardrobe for the winter. Layers are key in winter so pay close attention there.
Ladies, do you have a supportive running bra? Is it said one of the barriers 5 issues for women’s sport participation – the chest region. You can find out exactly what kind of bra you need (and how to make sure it’s the perfect fit) based on the size and support you require from our sports bra guide. – It’s the most important piece of kit you will need as an athletic female.
Please consider your safety.
- Take a phone with you, with full battery.
- Let someone know where you are and the route you’re going and what time you will be back. (My Garmin 245 watch has fall alerts – if I fall and remain still, it send an alert text to my emergency contact with GPS to find me (an amazing tool if, like me, you are clumsy on the trails)
- Wear bright and reflective clothing
- Head torch for the winter months, especially for trail runners who don’t have the luxury of streetlights.
- Use routes you are familiar with, through areas you know are safe or have recced beforehand.
- Consider running with a friend (or the dog) or on a treadmill if it isn’t safe.
A little safety checklist we often forget about include:
The mental chatter can become overwhelming at times, remember your mind gives up way before your body does! However try listening to music, a podcast or audiobook are incredible ways to take your mind off the hills you climbing or how tired you’re feeling. Otherwise, there are always games such as Zombie, Run! (Something I keep for treadmill entertainment but it works on the road too!)
Remember: Long runs are not about speed!
Long runs are completely about ‘getting the miles in your legs’ so do not pressure yourself – if you need to walk, walk! If you’re feeling the magic and want to sprint finish, go for it!
But don’t get caught up on the time per mile or km, it will improve as you progress through the run plans (you’ll get quicker and fitter without realising it) thanks to fartlek training, interval training, cross-training and all the gym training. It is all about training smarter, not harder.
Have fun with it.
This is your first long run on your journey to running a Half marathon or even a full marathon, so bask in the joy of hitting a new distance, you should be so proud of what you’re asking your body to do right now. just have fun and enjoy it.