The long run is often the ultimate quest for runners as this challenging exercise is known to build endurance and strength as well as teach runners how to deal with fatigue and pain. Anything over 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) may be considered a long, resistance exercise and may take some preparation not only to do well and complete the run but also to prevent injuries. When preparing for long run workouts, people often ask themselves many questions regarding pre-race, during, and post-race tips. So, what’s really the best way to prepare for long runs, including half-marathons, 10 Ks, or just an hour jogging in the park?
Hydration is extremely important before any run or race. Hydrate well but as usual and drink according to your thirst. Consuming drinks with sodium will help stimulate thirst and retain fluids consumed. Avoid alcoholic beverages as they increase urine output and delay optimal rehydration. Don’t overdo it as over-hydration can lead to the need to urinate during the race, a very common problem for beginners.
Trying to determine how much food to take in before a long run can be complicated since everyone is different, have different fitness levels, different diets, etc. However, an easy, general rule is to consume approximately 0.5 grams of carbohydrate for every pound of body weight and then multiply that number by the number of hours prior to the start of your run. Choose light, easy to digest meals that will put fuel in your tank. For example, eat a high-carbohydrate, low-protein meal a few hours prior your longer runs, or a snack or nutritional bar for shorter runs.
During workout, your body needs hydration and, for the longer runs, carbs. An average of 30g to 60g of carbohydrate per hour of running is a good basic rule and sports drinks are an excellent way to hydrate and consume the glucose needed. For more extreme workouts, runners need to get a more high-octane fuel, essentially more concentrated, and often available in energy gels, blocks, beans, and chews. These sports nutrition products are engineered to supply needed carbohydrate, which fuels your muscles and keeps blood sugar levels steady, and electrolytes, which help retain fluids to maintain hydration, prevent cramping, and perform other functions in the body. Make sure to follow your high-octane fuel with water.
No secret here, after runs, carbohydrates. Choose quick-digesting forms of carbohydrate, such as sports drinks, to allow your body to replenish its stored carbohydrate in your muscles. Fruit, crackers and bread are great after-race meals. Within the first 30 to 60 minutes after the race, it is crucial to consume some protein to help repair all your worn and torn muscles. Low-fat chocolate milk contains a good combination of carbohydrate and protein to help you refuel. Protein energy bars are also a great choice.
A combination of both sports drinks and water is perfect during and after a run as it can replenish the sodium and potassium you lose through sweat, while giving your body some energy from carbohydrate. After the run, rehydrate with a sports drink first, then water.
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