Wouldn’t it be great if “going for a long run” was as simple as lacing up, heading out the door, and running wherever you feel like it? For some, this is a reality. For most of us, however, the planning involved in the long run sometimes takes as long—or longer—than the run itself. There is a checklist many runners go through before they even think about heading out the door.
Whether you’re heading out for 10 miles or 25 miles, you will be covering more ground than your usual weekday run, so an idea of where to go is needed. Unless you have a watch that can tell you at a glance what distance you’re at, you’ll want to map your route ahead of time. No one likes getting lost and adding a mile or five to an already exhausting run.
Outfitting Your Run
Long runs are usually special to runners, who consider and lay out their clothes the night before with care akin to a teenager pouring over her closet to pick “just the right outfit” for the first day of school. Whether the long run is the part of the week that allows them the most alone-time to work through their stresses, a couple hours of social time with running partners, or the super-serious-see-what-you’re-made-of challenge of running a new distance, runners tend to go all out in the wardrobe department. This is the time to show off (ahem, utilize) things such as your spiffy new Garmin, running sleeves, compression socks, Hoka One One shoes, and hydration pack or belt.
In all seriousness, the running wardrobe does require some real thought and consideration to the terrain, temperature, and weather you will be enduring. If starting at sunrise in October, you’ll probably need to layer, as it will be freezing for the first hour, but then you will get quite warm once the sun is up. What will make more sense—a long-sleeved shirt that must be discarded or tied around your waist, or arm sleeves that can be peeled off and shoved into one of your hydration pack pockets? Will enough of your run be on trails to require trail shoes, or will only a mile or two involve some nicely spread woodchip path, so road shoes make more sense? The new running skirt is super cute—but will your inner thighs start chaffing around mile 10?
Of course you ought to drink more water leading up to a long run, as you will undoubtedly sweat more and longer than usual (if you don’t sweat, that is a surefire sign of dehydration and is definitely not a good thing!), but you will also need to take some water with you. Some runners favor water belts, while others prefer a hydration pack on their back.
Then there’s the question of what to fill them with. Do you prefer the fizz of Nuun, the sweet flavors of Cytomax, or plain ol’ water? Whatever your preference, it’s best to have it figured out the night before because forgetting your hydration guarantees either a shortened run or a pretty miserable one.
Second, only to hydration, most people require some form of fuel to keep their body running optimally for long runs. This could be anything from GU Chomps or Clif-Shot Energy Gels, to pre-soaked chia seeds in a repurposed squeeze tube, to a PB&J sandwich wrapped in foil and shoved into a fanny pack (who doesn’t love gooey peanut butter warmed by a sweaty body?). Whatever fuels your body on these challenging runs should be easy to access, easy to digest, and involve little-to-no garbage for you to have to deal with.
Calling all runners: does this list hit home with you? What did we miss? What are some of your pre-long run rituals or necessities?