I think long runs are what made me fall in love with running. It wasn’t until I started having weekends where life would pretty much revolve around my run and that I was actually out there running for hours, that I really found my true passion in running. There is nothing like the feeling after a good long run. The combination of exhaustion, energy, exhilaration and pride is not something that can be messed with.
Long runs are quite the process though, a lot of time goes into them and not only while running. So join me on my long run process…
The week before…
Start planning the run. Where will I go, who will I run with, how far am I supposed to go this weekend?
This doesn’t happen every week, but I have been noticing a trend lately since I have been running with a group, that I am starting to plan the where and when during mid week. I already know my route for this Sunday!
The day before…
I do up my carbs a tad, although not as much as I used to. I try to make sure I am hydrating and not doing anything that might be stupid the day before a long run (eat a bunch of bad food or drink a lot of alcohol).
The night before…
I check the weather, pick out my clothes and set them out in the bathroom. I plan how many GUs I will need (typically 1 for every 4-5 miles) and decide which water carrier I am going to use. I load my long run playlist onto my iPod and make sure my Garmin is charged. I grab a change of clothes for after the run and pack that with a bar of some sort to refuel with after. I set the coffee pot to brew 15 minutes before I plan on waking up.
I typically eat plain pasta or pizza (although I am going to be experimenting with some new pre-long run fuel soon), and sometimes have a beer. I try to be in bed at least 8 hours before I am going to get up and set my alarm so I will wake up an hour before I have to leave.
The morning of…
Alarm goes off and I get out of bed. I feed the cats, let the dogs out, feed the dogs, THEN get my cup of coffee. I like to be able to sit and do nothing for 30 minutes before I have to start getting ready (which is why I get up so much earlier than I leave).
I typically eat an english muffin toasted with peanut butter and sometimes a banana or a zbar. Although if you are a fan on facebook you may have noticed me asking for some new long run breakfast suggestions last week, I am really getting sick of mine!
I do this all while checking email, twitter, facebook, blogs, and watching TV. I love this sit and zone out time.
Finally I start getting ready. I get dressed and check the weather again to make sure I am dressing appropriately, and get ready to head out the door. Oh and I go to the bathroom 96870635 times during this process.
Long run time!
It always takes me at least a mile to warm up and I try to just not worry about my pace for the first couple miles. It’s about finding your zone and getting comfortable in the run. Depending on the distance I take my first GU around 4-5 miles and drink sips of water every mile or so. Eventually I find my zone and enter the best part of running long distances.
My pace varies based on how I feel, but I am typically right in the middle. Not a long slow distance runner, but also not quite a goal pace long run runner, at least for the whole thing. I like to run where I feel happy and comfortable and where I am pushing myself a little bit but not to the point of going overboard. I like to finish my long runs strong and typically can end with my last mile as my fastest.
Mentally I pretty much can be all over the place. Some runs I have no idea what I thought about for the entire time, but some runs I can remember every little thought.
Sometimes my thoughts are only about running, sometimes they have nothing to do with running. Sometimes I make big elaborate plans and sometimes I get frustrated and every once in a while I can be a little mean to myself.
The brain is the hardest thing to train and sometimes can go out of control so even when the mean part does comes out, I just try to control it and don’t let it overtake me. After I always laugh at what I was thinking and know it’s not the truth, but it’s a good thing to know how to control and overcome for the tough spots in races.
After the run is over I stretch and drink some water. Typically I drink a latte also (hey milk = protein!) or chocolate milk. I try to make myself eat something within the first 20-30 minutes also, even if it’s just a bar or a banana, your muscles will thank you later.
Once I am home, I try to take an ice bath after my long runs, even though I have been slacking on this lately. After a HOT shower I will stuff my face with a bigger meal, relax, sometimes take a nap, or sometimes I just lay down for a bit.
As you can see long runs can be quite the process and take up a lot of time! Overall they are my most favorite. I feel amazing after and love everything about them, even the tough sections. Long runs make you stronger in every facet. Sometimes they can be a little daunting but as long as you change up your routes, include some friends, have good tunes, and are enjoying yourself, the time spent preparing, doing, and recovering from them is all worth it.
Do you plan out everything for your runs or do you just wing it?
How far are you running this weekend?
I have TWENTY scheduled – eek!