Long runs are important to training, there's no doubt about that. But to get the most out of a long run, you need to start preparing the day before.
This weekend, I didn't do that and my eleven mile run was not one of my strongest. It ended with me majorly hitting the wall in mile 10, pretty much physically being unable to put one foot in front of the other.
Let's take a look at what is smart in preparing for a long run and what I actually did.
Smart: Nutrition the day before a long run is extremely important. You want to fuel up with a good mix of carbs and protein to make sure your muscles have access to a full supply of glycogen.
What I did: Noshed my way through piles of office treats leftover from a party in the middle of the week. Didn't eat a real dinner and instead chowed down on nachos at the bowling alley. Epic food failure.
Smart: Sleep is also a pretty crucial factor in ensuring a strong long run. You want to hit the hay early to make sure you get your eight hours.
What I did: Stayed out late with friends, collapsed into bed at 1 a.m. and had to pry my eyeballs open at 6 to go for my run. I was beat.
Smart: Before you leave for a long run, you want to eat something fairly substantial, like PB on toast or a Clif bar or something. What I did: Grabbed a few handfuls of some cereal because that's all that was in the house.
Smart: During your run you want to make sure you have plenty of fuel, whether that be in the form of Gatorade or Gu or whatever system works for you, so that you can replenish as you go.
What I did: I didn't have any Gatorade and I only had one Gu. So I filled my water bottle with water, took the Gu about half way through and was dying in miles nine and 10.
In the end I finished the run in an OK time: 1:44:41, but I know I could have done better if I had been more prepared.
So my advice: Do as I say, not as I do, and hopefully all your long runs will be better than mine.