It is difficult to deny the benefits that LSD (long slow distance) training gives us. They form the backbone of any training plan from 10 km to ultra marathons, increase endurance and teach us how to cope with fatigue on the run, help develop the mental toughness necessary to participate in long-distance races.
Long runs don’t have to be tiring. You can not only get the most benefit and pump your stamina, but also enjoy the process.
1. Prepare in advance
Start preparing the day before a long one – get a good night’s sleep and eat right the day before. The famous writer Virginia Woolf said that “you can’t think well, love well, and sleep well if you don’t have a good dinner” – and that works with running too.
Avoid heavy, spicy and oily food on the eve of training – such food will definitely remind of itself in the form of spasms and discomfort on the run. Eat complex carbohydrates – pasta, cereals, potatoes.
Do not be too active the day before, but you should not lie on the couch either – take a short walk or jog.
Prepare your clothes, make sure all your gadgets are charged, don’t forget about food and water, and take some cash with you “just in case.” Things collected in advance will save you from unnecessary fuss.
2. Plan your route
Most physiologists and trainers recognize that fatigue is cognitive and physical. Too many mental tasks for a long time can lead to earlier physical fatigue.
Trying to navigate while running can disrupt your flow state. The thought process consumes energy, so plan your route in advance so that while running, immerse yourself in your thoughts, contemplation of nature, a podcast or an audiobook, without thinking about where to run and how many kilometers from point A to point B.
3. Break the route into segments
Distances that are too long can intimidate even an experienced runner. An effective technique that will help trick the brain is to break the distance into smaller segments.
This approach eliminates stress and anxiety while running: yes, it’s not easy to run 25 kilometers, and instead of thinking how much it is, imagine 5 short runs of 5 km and think only about tasks for the current “top five” – you can easily run them. At the beginning of each new segment, visualize that you are just starting out with fresh legs and focus on getting to the finish line of the segment.
This strategy is also effective in competitions, such as a marathon.
4. Find Your Nutrition and Hydration Scheme
Yes, this point is extremely obvious, but it bears repeating – replenishing calories and fluids is very important during a long workout.
Long runs on an empty stomach or low carb can be beneficial during certain training blocks for some athletes with specific training goals.
However, for most runners, nutrition while running helps them feel good. It will provide you with a constant supply of energy and reduce the likelihood of a sharp slowdown and deterioration in well-being that occurs when the body switches to energy from fat because glycogen stores are depleted.
It is believed that the most optimal source of carbohydrates on the run is sports gels, which are well absorbed by the stomach and give a quick burst of energy. But some runners prefer to snack on natural foods – dried fruits, sweets, etc.
In any case, it will take time to train your stomach to eat on the run. But there is good news: as soon as you learn and find the nutrition scheme that suits you personally, you no longer have to worry about what to eat in competitions so as not to spoil them.
5. Avoid chafing
Nothing spoils the enjoyment of a long run like painful skin irritation caused by rubbing… This is every runner’s worst nightmare.
Wear a fabric that wicks moisture and sweat and try to eliminate or minimize the source of friction by trying different clothes to find out which works best for you. Lubricate especially sensitive and friction areas with petroleum jelly or a special cream – armpits, inner thighs, toes.
Even something as small as improperly fitted socks can turn a run into hell
and your legs into meat . Choose special running socks – they wick moisture away from your feet, provide ventilation and protect your feet from the appearance of corns… The special cut of the running socks allows you to carefully fix the ankle ligaments, protecting them from microtrauma.
Proper visualization can help fuel the brain with positive emotions and shift the focus away from bodily fatigue. Try to imagine yourself as an Olympic athlete moving towards the finish line: imagine how you run lightly and relaxed, how all the systems of your body work in harmony.
If you are preparing for a competition, imagine how you cover the distance, especially the last kilometers, and cross the finish line. Imagine your emotions at the finish line, photos, a medal from volunteers, a standing ovation, friends cheering for you, and congratulations. Try to see your target time on the watch.
Visualization stimulates the reticular activation system – an area of our brain that works like a filter and allows us to concentrate on what is important to us, and other sensations (boredom, muscle pain, monotony) will fade into the background.
7. Take your music with you
Running with musical accompaniment can help relieve the brain of anxiety about the distance to be covered, as well as tired and aching legs – this is called a dissociative strategy. It is proved thatrunning with music works like a legal drug and reduces fatigue.
Audiobooks and podcasts can also help distract you. At the same time, you can combine “useful with useful” – to listen to the information on the run, for which there is always not enough time.
Advice: turn on the music not immediately, but in the second half of a long workout, this will help to distract from the accumulated fatigue, pain, aching legs, a nagging brain and self-doubt. And, of course, do not forget about safety – turn down the volume level to hear everything that happens around, for example, approaching vehicles.
8. Find a company
According to numerous research, training with a partner or in groups increases endurance, decreases perceived effort, and increases jogging pleasure.
Running in the company of a like-minded person can turn a long run into an hour of pleasant communication (or 2-3 hours) – it is more fun, safer and reduces the likelihood of finishing a workout ahead of schedule or skipping a long one altogether, postponing it for later.
You can join a running club – in clubs, large running groups are divided into smaller ones, so you will definitely find teammates running with you at the same pace. In addition, organized club long runs often follow predefined routes with water and sports drinks provided along the way, which means all you have to do is show up for your workout and run.
Tip: Practice both group activities and running alone to get the most out of both types of workouts.
9. Come up with a reward system
Implementing a reward system will definitely make long runs more attractive.
Many researchmotivation and reward, and it turns out that simply expecting a reward increases motivation. Positive expectation floods the brain with feel-good chemicals and motivates you to move towards your goal.
Decide in advance what you are going to do after finishing your workout and look forward to that moment. Here are some tips: pamper yourself with a nice long bath, a massage, a manicure, a really delicious dinner, or a movie trip. You can, of course, and a piece of chocolate cake, but without fanaticism – an excessive passion for junk food can have unpleasant consequences both in the short and in the long term.
10. Develop a habit
The more you run, the better your brain and body uses the right muscle fibers so you can minimize your effort. As you adapt, running for a long time will become easier, but keep in mind that it won’t happen overnight.
Almost all of our daily routine is made up of habits. Make long runs a regular practice for the next couple of months (not forgetting about high-quality recovery) and agree with yourself that you will do everything planned without excuses. Over time, long runs will become a habit and become part of your daily routine.