Running Week Challenge Week 8: Prepping for Long Runs

By Alexandra Caspero on February 28, 2013

New here? Be sure to check out Week 1: Getting Started on a running programRunning for distance Making a playlistPre-Workout NutritionCore-Exercises for RunningPost-Workout Nutrition, and Outside vs. Treadmill?

If you’ve been following our running challenge, hopefully you’ve ventured out for a few long runs. I’m not going to put an exact mileage down on what I consider to be a long run, as they will vary from individual to individual. I consider a long run one you would consider bringing fuel along for: sports drink, chews, gels.

If you’re training for an event, such as a marathon or 1/2 marathon, your long run is much different than your weekly recovery runs. Remember that it takes several long runs for your body to become fully acclimatized to the distance. Add a few miles each week until you’ve reached your maximum distance. That way, you’re not overwhelming your body and you’re also less likely to get injured.

First, prepare your route. If your planning on going over 10 miles, try to find a route that will include a bathroom stop or two and water fountains. I am fortunate enough that I can run around parks and through the city. Close enough to pop into a Burger King for a potty break or by the public fountains if I don’t want to carry a water belt. I have a 5 mile loop from my house. I recommend finding one of similar distance and repeat it. That way, if you become fatigued, become injured, or have an emergency, you’re never more than a few miles from home.

It’s also a good idea to tell someone where you’re going. We’ve all seen the Law & Order episodes of girls who run in Central Park. Be smart. Don’t run at night, especially alone, and let someone know when your expected back. My usual line to BL is ” If I’m not back in 2 hours, call my cell. If you still don’t hear from me assume I am dead or kidnapped.”

Clearly there are no other possibilities.

You could also consider a Road ID. I don’t have one but always encourage others to, especially if you have life-threatning allergies or diabetes.

While I might sound like a worrier, and quite possibly your mother, it’s because I care. Plan for the worst, just in case.

Ok, enough with the dark and gloomy.

Let’s talk nutrition for long runs:

Dehydration is usually my first thought on long runs. Especially as it gets warmer outside or you run in a humid environment. Try to get some fluids in at least every 30 minutes during the run. There are many different types of water belts or hydration belts, find one that works best for you. If you’re running more than an hour in the heat, 90 minutes in normal conditions, make one of your beverages a sports drink.

After the 90 minute or so mark, you’ll want to start considering fuel and electrolyte replacement. Sports drinks aid in both. Since Gatorade is full of artificial colorings & flavor, make your own. My favorite DIY sports drink is from Brendan Brazier of Thrive and Vega.

You will also be depleting your glycogen stores, the carbohydrate fuel your muscles use. We’ve already discussed what you should eat before and after your runs, now let’s talk about fuel during the run. For runs lasting more than 60 minutes, it’s a good rule of thumb to take in 30-60 grams of carbohydrates every hour. Good food choices include: energy gels, endurance chews, goos, fig newtons, dried fruit (raisins are my favorite), sliced oranges, plain bagel. Find what works for you. GI distress is a common concern. Know what works with your body before race day.

What do you use to fuel your long runs?


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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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