Trail Running Tips on How to Prepare for a Long Run
Wanting to get outside on the trail for your long run this week? On those nice days where you decide running outside is preferable and you know you’re run is going to take 2 hours or more, it’s a good idea to prepare ahead of time.
If you’re a long distance runner (shoutout to all of our awesome ultra runners who did the Moab Red Hot this year!) and you know the drill already, you might still want to read these tips to see if you get some new ideas!
If you’re planning on taking some time out to get a long workout in, or maybe you’ve never done a long run on the trail before, here’s how you can prepare:
What is a Long Run?
A long run is a workout in the weekly training schedule of a runner that usually makes up 20-30% of their weekly mileage. It is the longest run of the week and is training for a runner to improve endurance, both physically and mentally. A long run is also a chance to practice fueling, figure out comfortable workout clothes to wear for that distance, and test pacing for that distance if you’re training for a 5k or marathon.
Tips for Your Long Run
Try not to run too far, too fast.
It’s important to make sure you’re not overdoing it on the long run, especially if you’re on an unfamiliar trail or path. Although it is important to get your training in, it’s not just about mileage — it’s about a quality workout your body is ready for. Too strenuous of a run can leave leave you burnt out, or worse, injured.
Work on running by feel, instead of pace.
If you’re getting tired faster than usual or your body is just not feeling as good, it’s more important to slow down and run by feel. Especially if it’s hot outside. You don’t want to burn out fast, especially if you’re out on a trail that’s far from where you started. A good rule of thumb is to run at a pace you can maintain a conversation at.
Be aware of time while on the trail.
While you want to run by feel like we mentioned, also try to stay aware of how much time your run is taking. Plan how long you’ll be out there, and try to stick to that for safety reasons. If you get lost, an accident happens, or just get too tired to keep going, it’s always better to know you have daylight left in the day to find your way back. Make sure to wear a watch or carry your phone with you to keep track of time while on the trail.
What to Bring on a Long Run
Depending on how far you’re going, there’s a few things you should think about bringing. It’s always a good idea to bring water, no matter what the weather is like. Hydration is number one when running, and second to that is fuel. Here’s a good list of a few items to think about bringing on your long trail run:
- Water in a handheld water bottle, hydration belt, or pack. If it’s very hot, electrolytes are a good idea too.
- Fuel or snacks, like chews or gels. If you’re planning on running into the double digit miles it’s definitely recommended you bringing something to help with energy levels.
- Identification or your phone. It’s always a good idea to have contact information on you, in case an accident happens. Since you’re far away from your vehicle or other people, it’s important to have safety precautions.
- Bear spray is good if you’re in wilderness with known predators.
- Athletic tape in case an old injury flares up or you fall and hurt yourself.
- First aid kit, which may not be too necessary, but if you’re an ultra runner going on a super long run, it couldn’t hurt to bring it along.
- Rescue whistle, in case you get lost.
- Map, also in case you get lost.
Many of these items can be stored in fanny packs, running belts, in an armband, or just your pockets if they’re small enough. Most importantly, make sure you wear the right equipment for the terrain and weather you’re running in.
A long run is key to any training program. Besides helping you build your aerobic endurance, it’s also good mental preparation for any long distance races you plan on taking on.