Whether we are running with our favourite run group, running with friends and family, or even flying solo, long runs are always exciting and full of reward. However, these common mistakes can take all the fun away. Read on to find our top tips on how not to sabotage your experience.
– Do not run without a goal
Before heading out into the abyss, make sure you have a game plan in place. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of this activity? What am I trying to achieve by doing this? Going out without a clue of what you are doing can be counterproductive. Always stick to a structured training plan so you can run with a sense of direction.
-Do not run with brand new gear
Trainers and Clothes
Wearing your new trainers or running clothing could be problematic. Any new gear that hasn’t had a break in period could lead to some chafing and blisters! Wear clothing and shoes you have been using for a couple of weeks and are familiar with. Always be sure to grab yourself some Body Glide for any areas you know you are likely to get chafe, especially in the summer months.
Always use technical running socks, no cotton!
Get yourself fitted out
Find an experienced professional to fit your trainers for you and don’t rely on the ramble of online resources. You do not have to go through the pain of black toe nails, bruised toe joints and blisters on a long run. Frustrating issues like these will be avoided with shoes that fit appropriately for your set distance in mind.
-Do not forget to charge up your electronics
You’re running through the crisp fresh morning air, feeling refreshed and energized, you know your legs have what it takes to make that PB you’ve been dreaming of for the past 6 weeks. You put your power song on as you head triumphantly for the hill. You feel yourself wither and gasp for breath but you say to yourself you’ve got this! Suddenly the music stops. You feel you have maybe reached nirvana so you check your GPS but no, it’s just your phone powering down along with your new Garmin Forerunner 55 you got for your birthday.
You don’t got this.
Your PB remains a distant dream and the log of your efforts is lost forever as a feeling of pure disappoint washes over you.
Have a pre-race/run check list handy, and include charging your equipment to avoid disappointment. Phones, Earphones, Headphones, Watches, Heartrate Monitors, whatever you like to use, keep it organised.
-Do not over stretch
We are not anti-stretching, however, research points out that too much static stretching during your warm up can lead to poor muscle tension during activity. Muscle tension is what we need as runners for explosive energy. Instead of static stretching, try dynamic warm up techniques. Aim to warm up your legs and hips, primarily your glutes and core muscles. If during this warm up something feels tight, feel free to give it a little stretch out. The best recipe is to get most of your stretching done after your run to help flush away lactic acid. It will keep you mobile and agile, and giving you relief from feeling sore the next day.
-Running with no fuel in the tank
Rushing out on a long run with an empty stomach could make you feel dizzy and nauseous, not to mention a lack of energy. Some people will choose to run in a fasted state but unless your body has adapted to this it is not worth attempting. Think of food as fuel for your engine. Having a decent meal 3 hours before heading out will give your body the nutrition it needs to get through the given challenge. If you don’t like to have a big meal or you need to get out early and don’t have time, try a smaller meal, a couple slices of toast with honey or a fruit cup with Greek yogurt an hour before hand.
This may sound like a contradiction to the latter but don’t eat too much before a run. Over indulging on food, especially the wrong types of food, before you head out will cause unnecessary work for your digestive system and can leave you feeling tired, bloated and lethargic. As previously stated, always wait 3 hours after a big meal. Eat pre-run meals high in carbohydrates and post run meals high in protein. The body utilises protein after your run for muscle repair and recovery.
– Drinking Alcohol/Bad Hydration
It goes without saying that drinking alcohol the night before a long run will hinder your ability to do well. Alcohol is a diuretic and dehydrates the body. It will give you a poor night’s sleep and release the stress hormone known as Cortisol. Your body has enough to deal with during a long run and doesn’t need any excessive stress thrown its way.
Consuming too much caffeine will also cause a diuretic effect so go easy on it!
Drinking too much water
Hydration is important but it is not good to go out after chugging a gallon of water, which leads us to the next point…
-Not using the toilet
Running will get the blood moving, as well as many other things. The up and down motion can cause you to need the toilet. Having some water and food an hour or so before hand can help push things along before you head out. You could also consider keeping some emergency tissues handy just in case you have to make a stop.
– Forgetting Your Face Mask
We are still living in a Pandemic and it would be a foolish thing to not have a face mask handy just in case you need it for any reason. If you decide to carry one with you, consider keeping it in a water proof baggy so it doesn’t get sweaty! You could also use one of our running Buff’s as this headwear has multiple purposes and also offers anti-bacterial protection as well protection from the elements such as chilly winds and harmful amounts of UVA!
– Not running inside your heartrate zone
With any endurance training run you must stay inside of your Aerobic heartrate zone. Braking away from this into the Anaerobic zone will leave you feeling broken and your run will turn into a miserable grind where you are likely not going to finish the distance. Slow down! Run at a slower pace. Running for longer at a slower pace will eventually translate into faster shorter runs. Stay patient.
– Not listening to your body
If you are a very active person and the body is crying out for some rest, it could be a good idea to do so. Forcing yourself through a long run will be detrimental to your development as a runner. Perform some active recovery exercises instead. Do some yoga or mobility work, gentle cycling, or some light swimming, this will provide a nice alternative. You could also crawl into bed with a book and grab yourself an early night!
– Not telling a family member or close friend
STAY SAFE! Who really knows what could happen on a long run, especially if you are out on your own? Exploring a new area or run route can be a great part of the journey. Just to make sure you stay safe, always inform family and/or friends where you are likely to be going. Most running watches have a built in SOS emergency contact, which is a great safety feature worth utilising.
Now you have the top tips on what not to do before a long run in your arsenal.
Enjoy your running!