marathon running running 101

Long runs – What have they taught me?

Thursday, 6 March 2014
32km

Not a bad day for 32km

 

This is only the second time that I’m training for a marathon but with an additional year of running under my belt and a full year of Crossfit, long runs are definitely easier this time around than they were last year.

Last year once I reached 30km I was all kinds of sore and exhausted afterwards. My lower back used to ache and my calves got really right, which in turn gave me shin pain (and any runner would know that shin pain is the.worst.)

This year I have reached 32 km (20 miles) without feeling broken in any way. I think Bikram as well as Crossfit are to thank for.

Mentally I have snapped out of the “why the heck am I doing this / long runs are soooo boring and tedious” thoughts. I plan the distance and roughly the route for each long run and just run it. When I start feeling tired or fed up, I slow down and remind myself that it’s about distance, not speed. It’s about just getting it done.

In case I do decide to run another marathon next year, here’s what I’m doing before, during and after long runs at the moment (it’s what seems to be working right now so I’m making sure I don’t forget :)

Before the run:

  • Drink a large glass of water and eat porridge made with just oats and almond milk.

During the run:

  • Sip on water + electrolyte tablets (nuun) from my Camelbak.
    – Electrolytes are essential for long runs, if I skip them, I feel very nauseous afterwards for most of the day.
  • Have 2 torq gels along the way.
    – I don’t feel that I need them and I only take them on runs that are 20 miles and up. It’s good to get my digestion used to them though because during the marathon I will have at least 3 just in case. I don’t want to ever find out what “hitting the wall” i.e. when your muscles (and liver) run out of glycogen feels like.
  • Not listen to music for the first 10-12km.
    – Just because once I then turn it on it’s such a treat
  • Not believe that feeling that tells me that I need to go to the bathroom almost from the time I get started.
    – That feeling goes away in an hour. The important thing is to keep sipping on water + electrolytes. If you get dehydrated your body becomes acidic which actually does make you need to go :|
  • Carry my Oyster card just in case I get lost (has happened once!).
  • Make sure I don’t lengthen my stride and decrease my cadence (the speed of steps)20km into the run as I’m getting a bit tired – that only makes my quads burn and slows me down.
    – Short steps and fast cadence work for me – no burning quads and ability to keep up a good long run pace.
  • Stick to the left side of the roads.
    – This one is weird but because my left leg is shorter (or my pelvis is tilted, whichever way you want to look at it), running on the left side means my shorter leg steps on the side of the pavement that’s slightly higher (pavements are not flat in London :)
  • Wear my good old Adidas.
    – They’re heavy and ugly but for some reason my legs like them.
  • Stop a couple of times to take photos and “smell the roses“.
    – Just because :)

After the run:

  • Have a recovery smoothie straight away.
    – Usually that involves almond milk, protein powder, torq recovery powder, cocoa, Miessence antioxidant powder.
  • Put on compression socks after the shower
    – I don’t know whether these work but I like the feeling of them.
  • Eat carbs (with lots of veg and protein as well)
    – Glycogen
    and amino acids in the muscles are depleted after a long run and it’s important to replace these nutrients into the muscle cells quickly so muscle tissue can become stronger.
    – My recovery carbs are usually sweet potatoes; the protein is what replenishes the amino acids.
  • Drink coffee
    – For my mental wellbeing :)
  • Drink lots of water throughout the day
  • Have Bikram yoga in the evening

Next day:

And that’s my list – what are your pre/during/post running tried and tested tips/routines?

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  • Muriel Friday, 7 March 2014 at 20:17

    You are such a pro! You never stop. Long run + Bikram all in one day. Well, it would be the exercise of the year for me…Which protein shakes do you use? Instead of stuffing my face after a workout, I might as well use some protein powder…

    • MrsB Monday, 10 March 2014 at 08:34

      When buying whey protein powder, look out for one that is hydrolysed (and I always buy non sweetened kind). From non-dairy versions brown rice one is quite good, but if you have no problem with dairy I’d go with whey.

  • Stephanie M Thursday, 6 March 2014 at 16:26

    I am with you on the Compression socks after the shower and a simple brekkie and what is with that stupid urge to go to the toilet, it always goes – it must be in my head! I’ve been going to Yin Yoga in the evening after my long runs and I never get DOMS or hardly any aches. I agree I think it works a treat!

    • MrsB Friday, 7 March 2014 at 13:46

      It’s good to get confirmation every week that the need to go to the bathroom is in my head :) – hopefully then I won’t panic come race day!

      Have you tried compression leggings as well? I’m liking the idea but wonder if it’s hard work getting in and out of them :|

  • Tess @ FitBits Thursday, 6 March 2014 at 16:00

    Ahh love this post, I need to keep a record of what works and what doesn’t. I need to also start getting on these electrolytes. I can’t believe you don’t need gels until 20 miles!! Machine!

    • MrsB Friday, 7 March 2014 at 13:48

      Electrolytes are a must, especially now that the weather’s getting warmer and we sweat a lot more during those long runs. As for the gels – do you actually feel when you need them / do you feel the difference if you don’t take them? I never notice any difference but take them just in case anyway!