Detailing Long Run Preparation

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.

Route Plan­ning
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?

Tying shoes

Hydra­tion Fill-up
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.

Fuel Up
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?