7 Long Slow Distance Running Tips For Beginner Distance Runners.
My long run today went much better than expected. I managed 15.11 miles in 2:32 which is one more mile than I had planned.
My long slow runs have been much easier for me of late and here are 7 things that I’ve learned from my experiences.
- Stop thinking about the enormity of the task ahead - If you’ve to run 18 miles and think about it too much before the run, then you’ll understandably be nervous and in doubt that you’ll be able to cover the distance. In the past I’ve cracked under the pressure and given up after 2 miles because I just couldn’t handle the idea of running so far. I try to start each long run at a really easy pace and focus on just feeling good for the first mile or two. Eventually the run will come to you.
- Find your ideal race pace using the McMillan calculator - When I was training for my first marathon I assumed that I had to run the long run at the same pace as the rest of my runs. Then a friend linked me to the McMillan calculator and found out I was running at a pace that was almost 2 minutes quicker than my ideal pace at the time. The tool isn’t perfect, but it gives you a good starting point that you can use to find your pace as a beginner.
- Be kind to other runners on the long run - Acknowledge, greet and encourage anyone other runners that you meet. Today in particular I was spurred on by meeting 2 runners, one at mile 10 and the other at mile 13. I was close to empty at both stages. I raised my bottle to both of them and they smiled back and I felt a surge within. It’s amazing the effect that a simple positive gesture can have on your running.
- Concentrate only on the time spent on your feet if you’re a beginner - Today I took my own advice and worried more about losing myself in what was going on around me and being as comfortable as I could be. I can’t say that time whizzed by, but I was only checking my watch at quarter mile intervals (normally I check every 0.1 mile.). If I’m running too hard, time will go by more slowly.
- Acknowledge your achievements when you’re on the run - To take my mind off the distance left to run, I concentrate on breaking it up into sections and cheering when I hit 5k, 10k, 10 miles and the half marathon point. I do the same when I hit the 1 hour, 2 hour and 3 hour points too. My biggest obstacle in the past was feeling hopelessly negative in the middle of a long run and I ran worse as a result. When you’re running on your own, it can be a very lonely experience, so you need to keep your spirits up otherwise your mind will falter.
- Plan a reward for yourself before you set out - If you know that you have a reward waiting for you when you get back from your long run, it can help you maintain focus. You might also want to take care of any house work before you begin your run. There’s nothing worse than realising at the 13 mile mark that you have to fumigate the house after last night’s death rave when you return. It can seriously kill your morale.
- Don’t go overboard with ‘carb-loading’ - This is something I’ve been guilty of for a long time. I was naive enough to think that the more I ate on the evening and morning before my long run, the better I would perform on the day. This was my fucking haul the night before the Belfast Marathon 2012.
Instead of helping my performance, I felt incredibly bloated throughout the race. Nowadays I only have 2 or 3 cans of energy drink a few hours before the run and a few Nutrigrain bars and that’s enough to do me.