Updated: May 28, 2020
It’s common to make a few running mistakes during training, even if you’re a seasoned runner. Mistakes help us learn, grow and develop a strategy for success. However, there are a few things that you should always avoid doing during a long run.
Long distance running is a physically taxing sport, there’s no secret about it. But with the right training plan and mental preparation, it’s possible for just about any runner to conquer their long runs.
Knowing what to do during a long run is key.
While we may not enjoy every single moment of a long run, they often wind up being one of the most satisfying parts of training.
Dare I say it – many runners learn to actually enjoy their long runs.
But getting to this point often involves quite a bit of trial and error. As running mileage builds for the first time, many runners make a few long run mistakes that leave them feeling tired and discourage.
Avoid making common long run mistakes.
Taking the time to prepare and decide exactly what you will do during your long run will set you up to enjoy the miles. Preparing for a long run involves deciding what you’ll eat, how often you’ll stop, what pace you’ll aim for, and creating a mental strategy to use when things get tough.
By doing so, you’ll avoid the mistakes that many runners make during long runs.
Learning what to do during a long run is key to success for any runner. Check out these 7 common running mistakes to avoid during your next long run and set yourself up for maximum success.
Here are some of the worst things to do during a long run.
7 Running Mistakes: The Worst Things to Do During a Long Run
Mistake #1: Starting out too fast.
The easiest way to set yourself up for failure during long distance training is to start out too fast during your long run. Not only is this the wrong time to be pushing the pace, but you should actually be running your long runs slower than your goal pace.
Finishing a long run is enough of a challenge on its own between the increased mileage and mental strength required to conquer new distances. Adding a faster pace to the mix is a recipe for disaster.
Slow down, stop if you need to and don’t feel guilty.
If you’re feeling especially motivated or excited, it may be tempting to start your long run without holding anything back. However, the key to enjoying your entire long run is starting out slow and steady right from the beginning.
Remind yourself that long runs are the time to fit in mileage, not speed. The point of a long run is to help your body adapt to increased distances safely over time. Take things nice and easy, hold yourself back in the beginning, and enjoy the relaxed pace while you can.
Mistake #2: Not eating or drinking during the run.
Another major mistake runners make during a long run is failing to eat or drink anything during the run. Most runners take the time to carb load and prepare their nutrition prior to the run, but many assume that this is enough.
As your mileage increases, your body will need fast-acting energy regularly to keep up with the demands. Waiting to fuel until you are actually hungry means that by the time you are taking in fuel your body has already depleted its energy stores.
You should always plan to eat during a long run.
Create a hydration and fueling strategy that provides your body with regular water and energy at least every 60 minutes. Plan ahead by taking a water belt or handheld water bottle, as well as easy to consume snacks for during your run.
Enjoying your long runs means never letting your body get depleted. Take in plenty of fuel and water throughout the run to maintain your energy and help your muscles perform at their peak.
Mistake #3: Trying new gear for the first time.
Training is a great time to test out new gear, gadgets and fitness products – but this should be saved for those easy runs throughout the week. Trying out new shoes or clothes during a long run is a recipe for injuries or blisters.
Make a point to try out all new running gear at least once during an easy run before putting it to use on a long run. It’s much easier to push through the pain of a blister forming for 3 easy miles than it is during an 18 mile long run.
Trying something new is one of the worst things to do during a long run.
Long runs provide ample opportunity for new clothes to rub, change your gait, or just cause general discomfort.
Avoid this running mistake by testing out new gear during those shorter, mid-week runs. Make sure to test things out prior to race day, and once they’ve gotten the green light, be sure to wear them during long runs to ensure they hold up to the mileage.
Mistake #4: Running the day after a hard workout.
Completing a long run is hard enough when your legs and mind are feeling fresh. Attempting a long run the day after a hard workout or run adds an entirely new level of difficulty that your body does not need during training.
There is no need to schedule a long run right after a tough strength training session or intense speed workout. Mix things up and set your body up for maximum success by allowing it plenty of time to recover beforehand.
A simple long run tip is to always start your runs with fresh legs, so you can make the most of your mileage.
Mistake #5: Eating immediately before your run.
It’s no secret that long runs require plenty of calories and fuel. Many runners enjoy long distance training because it provides them with the opportunity to carb load without guild before a long run.
However, it’s important to time your carb loading right. A common running mistake is to continue fueling right up until the start of your run.
Eating immediately before a run, especially a long run, usually creates some digestive distress since your body is unable to fully digest your food before you begin running. This can lead to many bathroom issues and abdominal cramps that can really ruin a run.
Make sure to carb load the day before your long run, not the day of. The morning of your long run, fuel your body with a carb friendly breakfast or snack, but be sure to finish eating at least 30-60 minutes before starting your long run.
Mistake #6: Over or under dressing for the temperature.
As mileage increases, the time you spend running will as well. Before you know it, you might be running for 3 or more hours at a time during your long run.
The weather and temperature can change drastically over the course of three hours, especially if you are starting a run in the morning. Failing to dress for changing weather is a common running mistake during long runs.
Dressing properly will help you enjoy your long run.
Make sure to dress in plenty of layers to provide flexibility for temperature changes. As you get started, your body temperature will quickly warm up along with the air. It probably won’t be long before you’re sweating, even in 40 degree temperatures.
And on the flip side, increased mileage can really take a toll on your body. If you stop for a quick break or walk you might find yourself suddenly feeling chilly despite the warm air. Dressing in plenty of layers will allow you to be able to easily adjust to varying body temperatures throughout the run.
Mistake #7: Trying to squeeze in extra mileage.
No matter how dedicated we are to our training, life happens and we inevitably find ourselves missing a few runs here and there along the way.
When we miss a run or are forced to shorten one, it can be tempting to tack those miles on to the end of our long run.
Don’t do it.
This is a big running mistake that might leave you sidelined with an injury, resulting in even more missed mileage. Long distance training plans are created with a specific strategy to allow for a gradual increase in mileage and plenty of recovery or cut back weeks.
Learning what to do during a long run takes time.
No matter how great you are feeling at the end of your long run, don’t try to squeeze in more mileage. Complete the run as scheduled and continue along with your training.
Long distance running requires physical strength, mental fortitude and incredible perseverance. But when these three qualities align for a successful long run, the feeling of accomplishment is unlike anything else.
Avoid these 7 running mistakes during your long run and you will set yourself up for the ultimate success.
More long run tips:
- 10 Tips for Your Best Long Run Ever
- 10 Game Changing Tips for Long Distance Running
- A Guide to Long Run Recovery: What to Do Post Run