How to Prepare for Your First Long Run

How to Prepare for Your First Long Run

You’re ready for your first long run, but don’t lace up your sneakers just yet. Taking your running to the next level requires planning to avoid injuries and excessive soreness. When you go too far too fast or take off for an 8-mile run with no route planned, you run the risk of putting yourself and your body in danger.

Luckily, you just need to check a few small tasks off your to-do list to be ready.

Maximize the benefits of running, and minimize the potential risks involved, by adding the following strategies to your pre-run regimen.

Get a Gait Analysis
A gait analysis helps you find the optimal sneakers to complement your foot size and shape, arch height, and body mechanics is critical. According to experts at Fit2Run, shoes are structural, biomechanical, and functional extensions of your feet. This makes choosing the ideal type imperative. To guide the selection process, visit a running store that offers gait analysis, where they’ll be able to determine exactly what you need.

In the end, your shoes will offer the appropriate level of comfort and support, while reducing the chance of injury and reinforcing your endurance level.

Determine Your Route in Advance
Before you pound the pavement, scope out the exact route that you plan to run, determined by the distance you’re aiming for. Implementing a course of action will minimize the risk of encountering unfamiliar territory, which can put you in a potentially dangerous situation -- especially if you end up having to run longer than you’re prepared for to get back home.

Use an app like MapMyRun to track your miles and location. Take a mental note of landmarks while en route in case you need a visual guide to retrace your steps. See “Track Your Run” below for more information on this.

Fuel Up with the Proper Nutrients
Consuming a pre-workout meal that’s both satiating and nourishing will give you the energy needed to sustain prolonged, intensive physical activity. Just 2-to-3 hours before your run, eat a meal of complex carbohydrates, which will provide you with sustaining energy.

To determine the ideal amount to eat before your run, Pamela Nisevich Bede, long-time marathoner and Runner’s World columnist, suggests using the following formula:

  • If you weigh 180 pounds, and you have one hour before the run will begin.
    180lbs x 0.5 = 90
  • 90 x 1 hour = you need to eat 90 grams of carb to fuel your run.

Don’t forget to drink 8-to-12 ounces of water one hour leading up to your departure time as well.

Track Your Run
Smart watches and other fitness tracking devices are important for monitoring your distance covered, in addition to time elapsed, target heart-rate, calories burned and other relevant data. All of this will enhance your running performance and make sure you’re staying on track during your first long run and every one after that.

In addition, the mobile convenience of this technology is ideal for checking your progress without breaking stride. Luckily, with so many options on the market, you can get one before your first long run without emptying your savings account—options start as low as $45, according to a recent pricing survey.

Get Plenty of Rest
During the REM cycle, the body repairs and regenerates tissue, promotes bone density, and strengthens muscle development which makes adequate and consistent sleep patterns crucial for runners. High-impact cardio exercise places your entire musculoskeletal framework under stress and a rest period is needed for recovery.

Therefore, it’s recommended to get 6-to-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, especially before your first long run. This ensures your body is rested and ready for the stress your run will put on it.

Preparing for your first long run is a short process that makes all the difference. By planning your route, knowing your body, and getting plenty of rest, you can safely finish this long run with a smile on your face.

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