Many marathoners focus their attention solely on the details of training. But knowing how to prepare for and recover from your long runs may be just as important as the run itself. Here are 5 simple tips to prepare for and recovery from your marathon training long runs
Before the long run
You should treat your marathon training long runs almost as if they were races. A true long run takes a lot out of your body, so it’s important to be properly rested before hand. That means avoiding any strenuous or hard workouts for at least several days before the long run. You should also make an effort to get a good night’s sleep before a long run to be as rested as possible.
Fueling Before the Run
Any type of longer endurance activity burns a great deal of energy. The day before your long run, be sure to consume enough carbohydrates to top off your glycogen stores for the next day. Your muscles will also use fat and protein, and so it’s important to have meals which include these nutrients as well.
Hydration and Fueling During the Run
During the long run itself, make sure to hydrate regularly with either water or a sports drink. Sports drinks can help to replenish electrolytes and minerals lost through sweat, particularly on warmer days.
Because long runs tax your body’s carbohydrate stores, it’s not a bad idea to consume some type of energy gel or other calories during the run. This will give you a boost of energy and help your stomach become accustomed to eating on the run in case you plan to do this during the actual marathon. It’s always best to practice those strategies during training, rather than trying them the first time on race day.
Recovery after the long run
For the sake of allowing your body to recover, it’s not a bad idea to allow 2-3 weeks between each truly long run. Trying to cram frequent long runs together more often than this is likely to increase your risk of injury. You also want to avoid putting yourself in a constant state of over-fatigue. Training has the most benefit for you when your body can recover and absorb the training. If you’re always run down and exhausted from continual 20 mile runs, your body won’t benefit nearly as much.
Make sure you also get enough sleep after your long runs. During sleep your body produces human growth hormone and undergoes tissue repair. This is a key part of the training process. During training you break your body’s muscle tissue down. The body then adapts by rebuilding the tissue stronger than before to handle increased demands on its forces. If you skip out on sleep, you impair that recovery and adaptation process.
Refueling after the long run
After finishing a long run, you should make a point to refuel your body. The long run causes muscle and tissue breakdown, so having a meal with sufficient protein is important. Long runs also deplete fat and especially carbohydrate stores, and so a meal rich in carbohydrates will help to restore your glycogen levels to continue your training at a high level.
Recovery can be just as important as training
Without proper recovery, great training can go to waste. An athlete who is very well trained but too exhausted to race well is no better than an athlete who hasn’t trained at all. If you’re preparing for an important marathon race, you need to pay attention to your training. But pay almost as much attention to your preparation for and recovery from training. Follow these 5 simple tips to prepare for and recover from your marathon training long runs. With proper execution, you’ll arrive at the start line in better shape than ever!