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Surviving a Long Run

Surviving a long run can be a challenge

During the run

Most runners can run a 5K or 10K training run without any problems. Most of us don’t even need Gatorade or gel to get through these runs. Once you get beyond your routine running distances and into the “long runs”, lots of things can go wrong.

Nike,Air Zoom Pegasus
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus

During a short run you may experience chafing from a new shirt, or blisters from new shoes. A long run is when the real world problems will show up. If your shoes are off just a little but you may not notice this during a 5K run. But when you run 10 plus miles in your new shoes those blisters can turn into a disaster.

A long run is the time to experiment. Sometimes I will try out new shoes or food and hydration items. If things go terribly wrong, I can walk home, call for a ride or catch a ride with one of the support team members. It is better to have your experiment fail during a long run and not during your race.

If you are following a training plan, try to run the pace that is called for. Long runs are typically run at a slower pace than shorter runs. You want to push yourself during a long run, but you also need to listen to your body.

After the run

Recovery from a long run is different than recovery from your normal run. After your routine training run you need to re-hydrate, maybe eat and take a shower. A long run pushes your body beyond the routine. You want to push yourself during these runs, but you also want to pay more attention to your post run routine.

I usually follow RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. When you get home take a nice hot shower. This will help relax your muscles. If you can, lay on a sofa with some ice packs on areas that are particularly sore. You have to be smart with ice packs as they can cause frost bite.

If you can prop your legs up with a few pillows this will give you the Elevation part. This often helps me get the ice packs pressed into the areas that I need it. I don’t do a lot with compression, but many people swear by compression socks or pants.

It’s important to eat after a long run also. There is debate as to whether this needs to be in the first 30 minutes after a run or it doesn’t really matter. There have been times when I have not been hungry, even after a marathon. Really long distances can mess up your system and your mind.

You should drink as much water as you want right after your run. Sports drinks will help replenish your electrolytes and carbs. I think it’s okay to have a bagel, sandwich or pretty much what ever you feel like.

I try to avoid overly fatty or greasy foods. These are usually too heavy for my stomach after a run. I also avoid high sugar items like donuts and pastry. You may find your self craving these items. That is your body telling you to get some carbs into the system. If you make smart choices post run, you can replenish your body’s energy stores without un-doing all of your hard work.

Get moving

There is some debate about stretching before a race. There is less controversy over stretching after a race or run. Your muscles are often tight and need some stretching after a long run or a race.

You should do what ever your normal stretching routine is after a long run. I would advise adding new stretches after your shorter runs. Your muscles are less fatigued and there is less chance of pulling something.

Walking around is better than sitting down after a long run. Sitting reduces the flow of blood to your muscles just when they need it most. Blood flow brings nutrients that your muscles need to repair themselves. Blood flow also carries away damaged cells and metabolic left overs from your run such as lactic acid.

Stairs can be painful after your long run, but they will really help stretch your muscles and tendons. Movement may be painful after a long run, but movement increases blood flow.

I hope you find this information helpful as you train for your fall races.

Run well my friends!

Andy

© 2014 anagelin


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4 responses to “Surviving a Long Run”

  1. txa1265 Avatar

    Loads of good points – and I think after doing a few long runs most of us realize that there are few ‘hard and fast’ rules – sometimes you just have to go with the flow! I always try to get some ‘recovery food’ within about 30 minutes, but how much depends on how my body feels.

    One thing I did that was unintentionally smart as i built up my mileage was to figure out ‘mileage blocks’ in my area – I can add a mile here, a mile there, a 4 mile loop, and so on. As a result, if I plan a 10 mile and decide to do 14, it is an easy adjustment … or like just over a week ago where I was hoping for 20 but was fading fast after mile 14 (under-fuel) I cut a 1 mile block at the end.

    1. Imarunner2012 Avatar

      That’s a good idea. Where we run we have figured out an extra 2 mile out and back at the end of our run.
      Some weeks 14 miles just isn’t enough.
      For my lunch time runs I have found a few places that I can loop around to add to my distance when I’m trying to get in as many miles as possible with as few street crossings as possible.
      I’m planning on writing a series of posts for new runners. One of the things I want to write about is figuring out “mileage blocks” near your home. If you do a 2 mile loop, or out and back, you’re never far from home. As you get stronger you can add on. Stuff like that.
      Andy

  2. proactiveoutside1 Avatar

    Good stuff. I usually do this: Shower, eat, nap, eat. Then I’m good to get moving again.

    1. Imarunner2012 Avatar

      Sounds like a proven routine for recovery!

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