Marathon Training

Long Runs: How and Why I Start Preparing Several Days Out

Now that I’ve got a few dozen long runs under my belt, I’ve figured out a pretty good routine for getting ready. I pulled a lot of these tips from fellow runners’ Instagrams and blogs, so I wanted to share what I’ve learned and add in a few of my own suggestions.

Three days before my long run: This is when I generally start thinking ahead to my upcoming long run. I usually do my long runs on Saturdays, but sometimes on Sundays, depending on what my weekend looks like. These are questions I start asking myself: what’s the weather forecast? And based on that, what do I want to wear? Do I need to wash any running clothes? What am I going to eat the night before? Do I have materials for my usual breakfast before? I find that by asking myself these questions a few days out, the wheels start turning and mental preparation begins early, which only helps me when it’s time to run.

One day before my long run: Because I’ve already been asking myself the questions I mentioned above, I’ve got a good idea of what I need to do the day before. If I haven’t already washed my long run clothes, I’ll throw them in the wash before I leave for work in the morning. I stop by the grocery store to get any supplies I need for my dinner (I usually go for some kind of pasta, a side of veggies and bread) and always pick up a gatorade to drink once my run is done. For breakfast the morning of my run, I like to eat pretty much the same thing every week — a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and some fruit (usually a banana or berries). I keep my bagels in the freezer so they don’t go bad in between long runs; if I’m out of bagels, I’ll grab some at the grocery store too.

I also start planning out my route and what I want to listen to while I run. Lately, I’ve been listening to audiobooks on my long runs. If I’ve finished one (or if I just want to listen to a new one), I’ll peruse Libby, the audiobook app connected to my county library, and check one out/request one. If I want to listen to a podcast, I’ll make sure everything is downloaded and that I have enough episodes to get me through my run.

Night before my long run: This is when a lot of prep happens. Because I usually get up super early (like 4 or 5 am) for my long runs, it helps me to get everything ready the night before. I’ll lay out my clothes (shorts, tank, bra, socks, shoes) and any miscellaneous accessories (FlipBelt, hydration pack, Body Glide, sunscreen, chapstick). I make sure my FitBit Versa and wireless headphones are charging. And I pull out the fuel I plan to use for the run (UCan Hydrate powder for right before and Honey Stinger gummies during). I like to put all of this stuff either in the bathroom or kitchen, so my husband doesn’t have to hear me fumbling in the dark when I wake up at the crack of dawn.

Morning of my long run: Because I’ve pretty much got everything set up, I’m able to get ready quickly. I try to wake up an hour before I want to start running, so I have time to eat breakfast and go to the bathroom a few times. My first priority is always to eat: I thaw out a bagel in the microwave and then toast it, and cut up some fruit. I drink a glass of water when I first get up and then drink another with UCan Hydrate mixed in. Before long, I’m dressed and sun screened-up. And after all that prep, all that’s left to do is run — so I head out the door and get my miles done.

I’m an anxious person in general, so I like to plan ahead for most things. But I’ve found that my runs are just so much more successful when I’ve thought through these tiny details ahead of time. Running 12+ miles is hard enough — I don’t need to make it any harder by not charging my headphones or forgetting to pack my fuel source.

Think ahead so you can run like Phoebe Buffay