Over the years, long-distance running has been the go-to event for testing the limits of human endurance and mental toughness. I mean, let’s face it, there’s nothing easy about running a 50-mile race.
However, before you find yourself at the starting line, there are some definitive long distance running tips that you’ll want to know. In the rest of this article, we’ll dive into 5 tips to help you prepare for race day and set yourself up for success.
#1 BATTLE TEST YOUR GEAR
All this means is that you’ve spent time testing your gear before race day. The simplest way to do this is by training in the exact gear you’ll be racing in.
You’ll want to make sure that your shoes are broken in, the laces on those shoes aren’t frayed or ripping, you're comfortable in the clothes you’ll be wearing, and even knowing exactly where all the pouches on your camelback or hand-held water bottle are. The more you know about your gear before the race, the more confident you will be going into it.
#2 RUN YOUR RACE AT YOUR OWN PACE
The easiest way to blow yourself out of the water during a long race is to try to pace off someone faster than you. I know you are out there racing to win, but the best way to finish strong is by simply running your own race at your own pace.
Break the race into tiny victories
If you’re running a 50 or 100-mile race, you’ll drive yourself crazy thinking about mile 100 when you’re only on mile 12. The best way to keep your mind in the game is to break the race into tiny victories that seem easy to achieve.
Examples of these can include:
- Breaking the race into 1-mile mini segments to focus on
- Running for 5 or 10 minutes and rewarding yourself with a 2 or 3-minute walk
- Pick an object in the distance and only focus on running to that object...repeat indefinitely
Just remember that each tiny victory gets you closer to the finish line.
#3 HAVE AN EATING AND HYDRATION PLAN
"Are you going to have an energy gel every 30 minutes or 60 minutes?"
"Do you even like energy gels or do you prefer peanut butter and jelly?"
"Are you going to take salt or electrolyte tablets, and if so how often and how many?"
The questions above are just examples to get the wheels turning. The point is that you shouldn’t be trying to figure out those answers midrace.
Before race day, sit down with a pen and paper and literally write out your plan for staying hydrated and keeping calories coming in. This will undoubtedly change during the race, but at least you won’t have to use any mental capacity on race day to come up with the answers.
TIP: The best way to know what foods you can tolerate during a race is to “battle test” your food in training. Meaning, on your longer training runs, try eating a few energy gels or peanut butter jellys (or whatever food you want) and see how it goes. Over time you’ll know what foods work and don’t work for you.
#4 HAVE A GREAT SUPPORT CREW (IF POSSIBLE)
If possible, bring your supportive spouse or a great group of friends to cheer you on. Having a great support crew can help you shave time in a transition area, and can also provide a much-needed morale boost when you’re knocking on the door of your dark place.
#5 TRAIN ON SURFACES OTHER THAN PAVEMENT/CEMENT
Even if your race is on the pavement you’ll save your joints a lot of aches and pains if you can do most (if not all) your training on “softer surfaces” like a trail or grass. Running on softer surfaces helps dissipate running force better, which ultimately saves your body (ie...joints) a lot of wear and tear in the long run.SUMMARY
Running long distances races can certainly be fun, but they definitely require a little bit of planning and a lot of preparation. In order to show up on race day ready to crush it, remember to battle test your gear, have some sort of eating and drinking plan, and break the race into tiny victories. Now, all that’s left is to go out and have a blast!