A long run protocol

I do a long run once a week during an average training week. The long run is a vital part of any distance runner's training plan as it builds endurance, stresses the body over a long period and helps to improve running efficiency. In training for ultras and multi-day events the long run is even more important to me as it is the training day that is closest to a race in duration and it is a great opportunity to test race gear and strategies. I take these runs seriously and have built up a routine to ensure that I get the most out of each long run.

Today's schedule from my coach Ian called for 4 hours "time on the legs". This means that the focus of the session is on running the full four hours with the distance and speed of the run of lower importance. The idea is for my body to get used to running for that length of time; we'll work on the strength and speed I need to race well in other training sessions during the week. As I'm preparing for a self-supported race, I carry my race backpack with me to get used to it and to start adapting to the load I'll have to carry in the race.

The first thing I do before a long run is to have a good breakfast and get some calories in me. I like to eat between 300 and 500 calories about three hours before the run. This amount sits well in my stomach and doesn't seem to give me any problems on the run. I usually have Cerelac as that's what I'll eat before each stage in a multi-day race, but today I had some potato salad (potato, red onion, cilantro, anchovies, balsamic vinegar). I try to stop drinking about two hours before running and then start hydrating according to my thirst as soon as I start running. Today I had some green tea just after my breakfast. This routine works quite well for me as seldom have any stomach problems or need to stop during long runs if I follow it.

Potato salad for breakfast.

Green tea.

After some food and something to drink I start to get ready. There's not too much of a rush as I have between two and three hours to do this (yet I somehow always have to rush towards the end). I'll do some exercises on my foam roller and with a tennis ball to loosen up my legs and feet and to check if there are any niggles or sore spots that I need to be conscious of while running. Next up I'll prepare my gear for the day. Today I was training with my pack, so I used my potential race pack. The current load I'm working with is 4kg, so I had four bags of rice that came along for the run with me. I also took two water bottles with me which I can fill along the way, 7 Apitop gels so I can take one ever 30 minutes, my Garmin, iPod, sunglasses and hat. This is not exactly a light and fast set-up, but it's close to what I'll race with and therefore a good arrangement for a long run.

Foam rolling and using a tennis ball to loosen up my legs.

My pack and gear for today's run.

It was pretty cold today so the trails were mostly deserted and quiet. I had a great run, enjoyed a cooler day out and could run a good pace as there wasn't any traffic out there.

Beautiful and quiet trails on Cerro San Cristobal.

I'm still smiling in this easy first half of the outing.

Here's how the day turned out: a little over 4 hours, 40km on the legs with 4kgs. I like all the 4s!

4 hours completed as planned.

After a run I like to begin my recovery routine as quickly as possible. I try to drink a smoothie or eat a meal within 30 minutes of getting home. Today I had a delicious smoothie (egg, carrot, banana, mint, yoghurt).

A big smoothie to recover after that run.

That's how a long run goes for me. Now I've got some compression tights on, my legs are up and I'm thinking about a nap...

REMINDER: Running in the Family

My dad has been posting new articles every Monday morning for the last four weeks. If you haven't been following our journey to Augrabies have a look at the Running in the Family page as there is lots of great reading there.

1 comment:

a said...

Solid long run Drow. I really dont know how you can run that fast carrying all that kilos in your pack.
Keep it up !

ps. I'll try that powerfull breakfast. Looks nice.