5 mistakes to avoid on your first long run.
As January draws to a close the first long distance races of the season are approaching. Here is our list of 5 mistakes to avoid making on your first long run.
1. Over Carb-Loading
Carbohydrates top up your muscles’ glycogen stores so you have as much energy as possible – and that gives you an excuse to gorge on tasty treats like pancakes, waffles and bagels for two to three days before a race. But anyone who says you’ll benefit from inhaling carbs for any longer is wrong, lying or someone who’s sponsored you and since decided they’d rather not pay up. All you’ll be doing is potentially adding to the weight you need to carry round the course.
2. Preparing for the Running, Not the Race
Putting one foot in front of the other for the allocated distance is undoubtedly the most important part of the day, but life will be easier if you plan every other aspect too. This includes travel to the race, parking, supporter locations and post-race meeting points. All vital to plan unless you fancy not even making it to the start line, or being picked up by the police after the race for shuffling round in a silver cloak like some kind of futuristic zombie.
3. Bunking Breakfast
Yes, you need to eat something. No, stuffing your face on the morning of the race won’t top up glycogen stores any more (hence the need to carb-load). Go for porridge with a banana for slow energy release. Not a fan? Just eat whatever you usually have for breakfast so there’s no risk of upsetting your stomach. Your body is already going to go through a bit of an ordeal by running a long distance – don’t give it reason to complain any more than it already will.
4. Getting All Excited
Buoyed by enthusiasm, adrenaline and a desire to get the whole thing over, it can be tempting to set off fast. Don’t. Nothing’s more demoralising than running out of steam and having to drag yourself round the rest of the course. Run with a pace-setter if your race has them; if not, just consciously go out slow. Stick with that until you’re at least a quarter of the way through the race and then gradually increase your speed. You might even achieve a negative split (where you run the second half quicker than the first) like the pros do.
5. Experimenting Needlessly
Using new shoes, clothes, fuelling strategies or even earphones can have terrible consequences. Test energy products on long training runs, lest you suffer mad flatulence (at best) or replicating Paula Radcliffe’s most embarrassing moment (at worst) on race day. Switching footwear can result in insane blisters, a new top can batter your nips into bleeding submission and the less said about downstairs chafing from untested shorts the better.
For more information on how to train for the big day then read our previous newsletter
To read more about my experiences of being part of a local run club then read our blog