My Favorite Run of the Week
The past month my weekends have not been the same without my weekly long run. The long run has always been my favorite run of the week. Like they say: "A good laugh and a long run is life's best medicine" - Unknown
I miss heading out early before sunrise on a Saturday or Sunday morning with my brother on his bike and just running - free, far and fearless. So this week, I decided to share some of my long runs I did as part of my build up for my planned 30K in January, Bay to Bay.
VIDEO: Finishing up a my 28K (17.5 mile) Long Run in Stellenbosch. On both sides of the road there is wild animals like Zebras, Kudus and springboks behind the fence at the Vredenheim Wine Estate.
To me a long run is like a treat at the end of a week. I love going the distance, exploring new routes and discovering new places. To me my weekend feels incomplete without a long run. However, I take my long runs serious and see them as one of my most important sets of the week. I often do zoning in the middle of my long runs where I pick-up the pace to below or at my goal marathon pace. I always pick-up the pace towards the end as well. Below is my last long run I did prior to the 30K Bay to Bay in January.
Doing a weekly long run forms the solid base of a long distance runner's program, in my opinion, and makes you a lot stronger both physically and mentally. It teaches you to endure and persevere even when the road gets long!
Here are my 10 tips on how to have a good long run:
1. Drink up! Make sure you drink enough fluids the night before your long run. I have two glasses of water first thing every morning when I get up before my breakfast. This kick-starts my system and keeps me rehydrated before I head out on the road.
2. Fuel properly before you head out: Due to my hypopituitarism I have extremely low blood sugar levels and that is why I always make sure I eat something before my training. My go to breakfast in the morning is a toasted homemade grain-free bagel with OhMega Almond Butter, banana and cinnamon or smashed avocado with a cup of black coffee. To me this sits well on my stomach and keeps my energy levels up on my long run. What works for me, might not work for you, so my best advice is to find something that is nutrient dense and won't upset your stomach. Experiment in training what works best for you - never try something new on race days!
3. Wear comfortable gear: Choose breathable gear. I am very privileged to run in Nike. I find their shoes and clothing is very comfortable, I don't get shaving marks, or blisters on my feet. My Nedbank Running kit is super comfortable. If you are not yet part of a running club, it is not too late to save on those temporary license fees and join a running club. By joining the Nedbank Running Club you will receive a FREE Nike Nedbank Running Club vest! Offer is valid to all new members and current members who renew their @nedbankrunningclub membership before 31 March 2019. I always lay out my gear the night before, regardless if it is training or racing. It makes it easy to get up in the morning and go - no excuses!
4. Choose a scenic route: South Africa is definitely one of the best places to stay if you like to run. Not only are we lucky to have good training-weather most year round, but there is some amazing running routes! I mostly do my Long Runs in Stellenbosch, where I am surrounded by the mountain trails, grass fields and vineyards or in Cape Town with the beautiful ocean next to me - as well as a whole series of mountains and steep climbs for some good hill training. I very rarely do a flat route for my long runs; I prefer a long run that includes some hills. Sometimes we make an outing of the long run and drive to a different location. I love going to Franschoek between the mountain, it's challenging, but it's beautiful! The post-run coffee waiting for you in town at one of Franschoek's amazing little cafes when you get back, always makes it worth it too. Our go to choice is Good Food & Co, they have a nice big variety with good prices, as well as some allergy free options.
5. Run an out and back or a big loop: If, possible, plan out your route or run before hand and choose an out-and-back or big loop if your area allows it. This is mentally sometimes easier to complete instead of running multiple loops. However, if you are looking for a challenge or training for a specific circuit-type race, do loops - they definitely make you mentally stronger!
6. Find company: Running with a group or partner makes the long run go by a lot faster. Make sure you find a group or a partner that can run your pace and is able to cover the same distance, otherwise they may hold you back or vice versa. If you can't find a running partner, having someone bike next to you, is also a good option. I am blessed to have my brother or dad go with me on their bikes most weekends. I feel safer (with my track record of accidents! Haha) and it's always nice to have a bit of company. I use to train with a group of talented guys in America and I often miss having them around making jokes and making time fly by faster.
7. Have a post-run "reward" waiting for you: Reward yourself a bit after a long run. Make sure you replenish those depleted glycogen stores with a nutrient dense meal, as soon as possible. Foam roll and stretch, elevate your feet and if possible try to rest a bit during the day (take a nap if you have time). I always crave something sweet later the day - so I like to spoil myself with either a coconut milk ice cream or something with dark chocolate.
8. Get to bed early: Unfortunately, if you want to feel fresh and strong for your long run you will have to make some sacrifices. Sometimes you won't be able to get to bed early, but if it is in my control, I try to go to bed at a reasonable time, since I always head out early in the morning for my long run to avoid unwanted traffic and heat.
9. Pace yourself: Don't start too fast. Build up and break the distance up into parts. I always try to pick-up the pace of my long run as I go on. I try to end strong, often my last kilometer is my fastest.
10. Be positive! Go out with a positive outlook. Don't be overwhelmed by the distance ahead - never ever look back how far you already ran, only look forward to what you have left! Enjoy it!
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Please comment below, where do you like to do your long runs? Any suggestions for my next one when I am back on the road?
I cant wait...