Running Mistakes – The Long Run – Marathon Training

Mistakes I’ve Made On The Long Run.

right wrong

The staple of all training plans for half marathon distances and up is the long run. The long run is where you stretch your endurance, where you increase the time you spend on your feet and where you teach your body how to deal with the strains of running really long distances. The long run is also a run where you develop your pre-run/pre-race routine. As you increase your distance over the double digit barrier of ten miles, this training run becomes a run you (or at least I) have to plan for. Planning for the long run includes considering such things as, food, hydration, gear selection, foot and body care and carrying enough fuel and liquids for the run.

The preparation you put into this run and its planning can make or break the run/race. When everything has come together, I’ve had some of my best performances. Unfortunately, when I’ve made mistakes in my pre-run preparation I’ve had some of my worst encounters with the wall.

Five Mistakes I’ve Made While Trying To Run Long:

1. Failure to properly fuel (carb-loading) in the days prior. At least twice that I can remember, I was so secure in my ability to run my 20 miler that I put little forethought into carb-loading in the days prior. I normally have my “fuel” meal the night before, the night before my long run or longer distance race. On these occasions, I blew it off figuring I had “it” in the bank. Well…that did not go so well. I bonked and bonked big time. At mile 18 of a 20 mile run…the needle on the fuel gauge was moving its way to empty in a hurry. The result was a ugly and painful run home.

2. Lack of a solid pre-run breakfast. I’m no nutrition expert, but I once read that a breakfast with 125 grams of carbs, 3 to 4 hours prior to the start of your long run or race will top off your tank. When I’ve taken the time and effort to adhere to this rule I’ve run much better and felt stronger during the race. When I’ve gone out on a small breakfast or none at all I have paid for it and the cost was not cheap.


3. Limited hydration during the run. Most marathon/ultramarathon training plans recommend 12 to 24 ounces of water per hour of sustained effort. On a recent 20 miler I left the house for a ten mile out and back with only a 20 oz handheld and no real plan to resupply. Lucky for me I was able to top off my bottle at around the 13 mile mark. Unfortunately, I did not notice this water source on the outbound leg. At this stage in the run, the damage was done. During the first ten miles I was in conserve water mode and only drank approx. 10 oz of water in roughly 2 hours of running. By the end of my run even though I still had liquid in my bottle I was feeling dehydrated and my pace had fallen off.

4. Forgetting about the feet. Your feet may be the most important thing during a long run. I’ve messed up selecting the wrong socks which created blister issues. I’ve also ignored little things like the condition of my toe nails. During one painful run one of my toe nails was just long enough to dig into the side of its neighbor causing one ugly wound and a very bloody sock.

5. Trying out a new pair of shorts. There is a time and a place to test out new gear. THE long run is NOT the time to test drive a new pair of shorts. If a seam falls in the wrong place, if the material is a bit to course the longer miles of your run will expose these shortfalls in a very painful way. Very early one morning, trying not to wake up my wife while getting dressed, I grabbed a pair of shorts pulled them on and in short order headed out the door for my long run. A mile in something was not right. I inadvertently grabbed a new pair of shorts and they were not riding right. Being a little stubborn, I decided I would just grim and bare it…little did I know the chaffing in “man-land” would become downright painful. Afterward those “new” shorts went right into the trash.



6. Don’t get some silly song stuck in your head. Just prior to going out on your long run/race make sure you only listen to your most favorite play lists. If for some reason you hear, a Barry Manilow, Milli Vanilli, or Bay City Roller’s song it will be stuck in your brain like a terrorizing replay of Disney’s “It’s a small world after all.” You have been warned.

The long run is perhaps the most important run leading to an upcoming race. The amount of attention you give it in the days leading up to or the morning of can make or break the run/race. Don’t let a little inattention to details derail you or leave defeated, broken and in pain at “the bonk zone” of the wall.

Have you forgotten to prepare for your long run? Post a comment and tell us about your long run mistakes.

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