We’re really getting up in our mileage now and, to help you get through your long runs, it’s useful to know why we run long. The long run:
- Provides the necessary endurance to complete the half/full marathon.
- Strengthens the heart and opens the capillaries, both sending energy to working muscles and flushing waste products from fatigued muscles.
- Strengthens your leg muscles and ligaments.
- Teaches your body to burn fat as fuel.
- Develops your mental toughness and coping skills, thus increasing your confidence that you can go the half/full marathon distance on race day.
All of the above happens if you’re running at a comfortable, conversational pace, so don’t go too hard or fast during your long runs. We call it long slow distance for a reason!
So how can we make going long more comfortable and beneficial? Here are some things to try (yes, you’ve heard some of this before – we need to pound it into your heads!):
Avoid chafing. Wear non-cotton, synthetic socks, shirt, and shorts that wick away moisture. Use Body Glide, Vaseline, or similar anti-chafing products (on feet, under arms, between thighs, nipples, etc.) to prevent chafing and/or blisters.
Stay loose. Some runners get tense in their shoulders and arms when they start to get fatigued, leading to neck and back pain. You can prevent tensing-up and slouching by shaking out your arms and shoulders regularly. Also, make sure you don’t ball your hands up in a tight fist — that tightness will radiate up your arms, to your shoulders and neck.
Nothing new on race day. Start experimenting with different foods, such as energy gels and chews, and candies, and clothes so you can figure out what works for you. The goal is to find your favorites now, so you’re not trying anything new on race day.