By Chris McCaffery - Itz Running / September 02, 2022

Long Run


"ITZ Running" LONG Distance
by Coach Macca, 2:35 Marathoner

For most runners, they will stick to distances close to home. They don’t care to go beyond a 5k or the occasional 10k distance and they really just look to use the time running to keep a healthy habit alongside their lifestyle. But for some runners, they choose the path of most resistance, Marathon Training. Competing in a marathon will have a runner go through multiple emotions and physical discomfort. Through the fire comes the phoenix. As a runner you will benefit from learning the skills necessary to overcoming the niggles, recovery methods, strength training alongside training, and how to get your mind on the marathon.
Train for one marathon, you are a runner in marathon training, train for a marathon or two a year for as long as you can, you are a marathoner. Both runners will have one thing in common, the week’s long run. This is going to build in duration or distance over a period of weeks. The end goal is to have the runner develop confidence and skills to complete their marathon within their abilities to avoid injury, burnout, or overtraining. Additionally, these weeks need to build but also need to give the runner the ability to recover and repair muscles before building up again.
It is usually within these ups and downs where runners will find a twinge here or low burn there. These sensations are typically referred to as “niggles.” These niggles try and convince the runner they are broken, and in a lot of cases the runner is not but rather they are just missing a piece of the puzzle. They might have not given their body enough nutrients over the past few weeks, or perhaps have ran the same route with the slight tilt to it too often, or haven’t tracked their shoe mileage but from photos from a year ago they are in the same shoe. Best remedy for these would be to stick to your body maintenance plan, or recovery plan. Wait, don’t tell me you don’t have a plan that helps you create a connection with your body on a near daily occurrence to ensure all cylinders are firing and feeling normal.
Maintenance and/or Recovery plans have runners go through general movements, stretches, and manipulations. This is a morning yoga flow that helps you ground yourself in gratitude but also wake up those muscles from slumber. This is an easy body weight strength training alongside some foam rolling. This is a swim session but it starting with 15 drills to help open up the shoulders, get the spine in alignment, and get your body awake and feeling the pull in the water. When going about these sessions and no red flags get raised there is a good chance whatever you felt during that run, would be defined as a niggle. When these niggles occur, just be sure to get back to your routine and check in with your hydration and nutrition, I’m sure you’ll solve the problem and be back to running.
A runner cannot get faster without getting stronger. Do we need to deadlift or squat 1.5x our bodyweight, in most cases no, but having sound form and weights is all you’ll need to build that strength. The key to strength training is the timing of it alongside your marathon training. Personally, I don’t fair well doing strength training immediately the day before a long run and therefore two days prior is closest I plan my strength sessions to my long runs. Some runners of mine like to perform their strength sessions the day after the long run to help them get range of motion back from their muscles that might have tried to shorten after the long miles the previous day. The best to do is plan 3 to 5 weeks and change the day in which you perform a strength session and figure out which outcome was best for your performance. The only time I drop my strength training is within the final one or two weeks prior to the event. This is during my taper time and I focus more on the restorative side of activities.
When it comes down to it, our body will continue to perform so long as our mind continues to send the signal that we are ok and have everything we need. You mind is just like any other part of your body, it too will get stronger over time. This is especially helpful on those long easy effort runs that keep you running for over two hours. If you are like most runners who train for a marathon, this means you are up around 330-430am and on your feet running by 5am, two hours gives you the darkness to hide any negative effects or feelings with a sense of healthy fear. Once the morning sun pops out and you are still running, this is where most of us will struggle with our inner voice chatter. This is the time you will begin to slow the pace, or add in some short walk breaks, and you’ll convince yourself this is all OK. You’ve got big goals, therefore you’ll need to get your mind up to speed and fortify its walls to block out those negative thoughts. Best practice for this is to have yet another plan. Can you tell I like plans? The plan being, prior to the run you should think about how it will go, what you will expect to happen and when things would happen. Equally you will need to think up solutions for when those occur and hopefully the solutions will be you smiling and completing those miles perfectly. Having the thought of perfectly completing the miles with a smile on your face will allow your body and mind to generate that scenario with greater success. Try it out on your next run and see for yourself!

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