Long runs for the London Marathon
Long runs are important – With the London Marathon a little over 6 weeks away (at the time of writing) the stakes are getting high with the training.
And if this is your first Marathon, you may feel more than a little intimidated by the prospect of going out on your long runs.
We take a look at some simple dos and donts, and help you make those runs as pain-free and productive as they possibly can be.
The Common mistakes on long runs
The biggest single mistake, especially for first-time marathoners, is running the long training runs too fast. The purpose of the runs is for the physical adaptations they create in the body. They are not some sort of test (although will help to make you feel more psychologically confident before the big day).
The runs are EASY pace. And if you have run hill repeats, and race pace runs, and fartlek runs, easy pace may feel easier than you think it should. As always err on the side of caution. You should be able to comfortably carry on a conversation on these runs. i.e. you shouldn’t be short of breath. These are aerobic runs!
The other big mistake before long runs is not taking your diet seriously enough. The long training runs can be a massive challenge. Unlike the marathon itself, you don’t have big crowds cheering you on, so you need the energy proper nutrition will give you. You need to take the nutrition seriously and follow similar nutritional routines that you will use for the main event. These vary from person to person. So decide what food plan you will adopt on race day, and trial them before these long runs.
Things to remember about your long runs
When you know you have a long run coming up factor in lots of time either side of the run in your diary. You need to take on board plenty of fuel, warm up, prepare your route; and most importantly, recover from the run. All this takes time, it can take the best part of a few hours. So, if you have planned anything social too close to the end of the run, you might want to re-schedule. The self-imposed exile will be over soon!
A key to managing your long run is to manage your anxiety. With all the prior training you have done your body has started adapting. It does feel a little like stepping into the unknown, but you have to trust in yourself. To help release your anxiety focus on your breathing. And remember to check your shoulders once in a while to see if they are down and relaxed (not hunched).
Finally, if in doubt, cut down the distance of your long runs. Various training programmes will tell you that your longest run should be somewhere between 18 and 22 miles. The advantages the longer (22 mile) runs may have in terms of a training effect are certainly counter-balanced by the potential strain on your body. If you are unsure, take the less physically demanding option and keep your long run shorter.