Well, I am happy to report that I survived this weekend’s long run and it went way better than the last time. The stomach bug is a thing of the past, and despite running 17 miles in hot and humid Florida, it went better than planned. Rock and I are both training for the same marathon right now, and with grandparents to watch little miss Mary, we were able to run together (#HotDate). We were both a bit apprehensive about this run. Having come off a miserable 15 miler the week before, and knowing that the the heat and humidity weren’t going to do us any favors, we were prepared for a rough run.
While we had to slow the pace a little bit, everything went better than expected. I arrived home sweaty and slightly dehydrated. But that’s what LaCroix and Diet Vernor’s are there for!
This is the time of year when I begin working with a lot of athletes who are preparing for various spring races or are looking to get a jump start for summer and fall races. One of the biggest concerns is how to deal with long training runs. Questions range from what to eat, how to dress and how to breathe. While there are technical answers for all of these, the honest truth is that you need to keep it simple when first starting out. Training plans are created to help build you into a stronger runner. Mileage should slowly progress at a rate that gives you confidence and greater endurance.
So here are my simple answers to these questions:
What should I be eating during the week? What should I eat before a run? Unless you eat a diet completely filled with fried and unhealthy foods, I recommend sticking to your normal eating plan at first. If your goal is to become healthier or lose weight with your running, you will find that your body will naturally begin to gravitate to healthier foods as you continue to run. Make sure that you aim for a well rounded diet, as you hopefully want to do regardless of running. Bright green veggies and fruits, whole grains, and low fat dairy are great starts. And as many of you know, I never skimp on the meat. I personally find that lean meats help my body repair and continue to feel strong. In fact, I crave a lot of fish and seafood during training cycles.
Before a run, and especially your long run, you should aim for a meal that has come carbs, protein, and fat. It is important to fuel in the morning before a run, regardless of whether you typically eat breakfast or not. Start with something light and see how your body responds.
See what foods work well for your body and what upsets your stomach. From here you can being to add or eliminate foods that either help make you stronger or inhibit you from maximum training.
How should I breathe? The simple answer is, as you always do. When you begin running, placing too much focus on your breathing can become discouraging and instead make you panic and begin to struggle with your breath. It is of course important to aim for slow steady breaths (try not to pant) but beyond that, your breathing will sync with your body as you ease into your run. I once read that the act of exhalation is one of the body’s most natural reflexes. Once you breathe in, your body will do the rest for you. Don’t sweat it!
Believe me, your body won’t let you down. It will continue to do what it does naturally, and that is get oxygen to your body. So relax and let it do it’s job and you can focus on putting one step in front of the other. In fact, the less you focus on this and take your mind off of it, you might find that running becomes easier. The days I spend thinking about how much farther I have to go or on the little details of what I must do, are the ones that seem the worst.
Turn on some tunes, keep your shoulders and arms relaxed and just allow your body to settle into a natural pattern.
Side note: If you take yoga, you will find that this really helps you to relax and control your breaths. If you are looking for a little help, I recommend taking a few sessions.
What to wear? Quite simply, whatever makes you feel most comfortable. My running clothes have evolved over the years. I have found what feels best on my body and then I stick with it. Keep in mind that while running clothes tend to be very fitted, they really do flatter your body more than you think and are meant to make running itself feel more comfortable.
Both my husband and myself were hesitant to wear running tights for the longest time. I personally felt my body wasn’t built to wear tights and he wasn’t so sure about wearing tights (as many men are). But the first time we both tried them out we had a huge “Aha!” moment. They are so much more comfortable and make running feel so much better on cold days. And guess what? No one paid any attention to us.
Rock your running clothes with confidence!
Side note: As a general rule you want to dress for temps 15-20 degrees warmer than what the thermometer reads. While 30ºF feels chilly when you are out and about walking, it can actually feel quite toasty in a heavy running jacket. I sometimes even run in shorts with that weather!
And of course, there is always my Simple Hydration bottle to make that end of training easier 😉
What are your simple tips for making running work for you?