How to Grind Out Long Training Runs: Preparation

Dedicated a post to a question I often receive:


My time-tested tricks include varying the routine, seeking sunshine, changing tunes and ignoring the pain (among other things). Working backwards today, however, I believe that mindful preparation goes a long way to painlessly enduring a long run, too. Though we rarely treat a 20-mile training run like a race; in essence, we should! Here’s what I “try” to do to prepare for the long ‘uns!

The night before….

1). Hydrate.

Though I’m guilty of putting hydration on the back burner, it will help. A few days before long run, I try to be attentive to how much water I’m drinking. And the night before a run? Not the best time to go bar hopping (this of course was a bigger issue when I was younger).

2). Sleep. Most of these long runs are carried out in the early morning hours, if for no other reason than to get it over with. That makes it all the more important to get in bed at a decent hour (no promises you’ll sleep like a baby beforehand, but staying up all night will surely not help).

3) Eat well. We all have our favorite meals to eat before a long run. And I have experimented with a number of them. But I do tend to have better luck with a high carb meal, sprinkled with protein, the night before a long workout. My personal favorite? Spaghetti with meat sauce. A wood fired, “healthier” pizza does the trick, too.

4) Get your belongings together. It helps me to have my things laid out and ready to go the night before a run. That way, when I get up at the crack of dawn and can’t see a darn thing, I can spend a few extra minutes stretching or simply relaxing – rather than searching for personal belongings in the dark. Also, make sure the Garmin is charged! Moments before…

1) EAT! Don’t skip breakfast for any reason, but especially not before a long run. You’ll need the fuel later – take my word on this one!

2) Hydrate. A protein shake is a real bonus before a long workout because it has carbs, protein and water, but if I don’t have the time or tummy for it, I try to drink water or sports drink.

3) Dress properly!  Particularly if it’s cold outside, make sure you have enough warm clothes on your body. I like to layer, too, in the event I overheat after an hour or so. And because my fingers are abnormally cold, I always wear thick gloves and even take hand warmers as a back-up.

4) Take food and water. You’ll be sorry if you forget!

P.S. And don’t forget when the run is complete, treat your body like a temple! Get the sweaty clothes off, drink fluids, eat protein, shower, stretch and, most importantly, relax! Don’t cram too much into a 20-miler weekend like Bobbi did!

Melinda Hinson