How to do a Long Run with Style

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Well I’m back from my Cambodia/Thailand trip. I could write a whole book on what I experienced over there, but I will share these memories more in conversation. Its good to be back and running with this exceptional running community.

I look forward to teaching this group yoga which I practiced diligently on my trip.

My running practice however, slipped up a little bit. I needed a break after running an ultramarathon in December. My goal is to just keep up with uber athlete Steve Mackel on Saturday. My technique is still good, just lost a little cardio with all the fun I was having in Thailand.

So overall, I had a great year last year. I ran three marathons and an ultramarathon. I didn’t accomplish my time goals but those are becoming more and more irrelevant for me. I also got certified as a yoga instructor so easily did over 300 hours of yoga last year. That’s why I am so flexible. Its just a matter of doing the work. You all could accomplish things like this also. Have patience and try to do a little more every week than the week before and you’ll get there.

So these are some important lessons I’ve learned from training for 8 marathons and an ultramarathon.

Gary’s Top Ten Tips for Doing a Long Run

1. Drink Water and Electrolytes. Easiest way to do this is to set your watch to beep every ten minutes and when it does, just have a sip of water. Another option is to have a small drink, certainly not a whole glass of water, every mile. Either way would work. the key is not to drink constantly and to not drink too much which will make you feel water blogged. You need to use electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals which help transport electrical signals through your muscles. Without using electrolytes, your muscles can bonk, making you feel exhausted later in the run. I like to use Ultima powder which you can find at whole foods. Gatorade has some electrolytes but also a bunch of corn syrup and enough artificial preservatives for a fifty year shelf life.

2. Be sure to breathe deeply. The best way to do this is to inhale to the count of four and exhale to the count of four. Try your best. Another thing I do is to count breaths up to 50 or 100, something to keep your mind busy on those long lonely stretches. Oxygen and water are the most important nutrients on your run.

3. Eat every hour. You have a few options here. Some people like gels but I find them a little too yucky yucky syrupy. I like to use cliff bars and powerbars. The food is solid and burns more slowly giving less of a spike that you get from the gels. So on a long long run I will take two cliff bars, and each hour eat about a half/quarter of the bar. You need to eat for fuel. You need to eat for fuel. You need to eat for fuel.

4. Relax. Constantly scan your body for any areas of tension. Sometimes my shoulders get tight for example. So I am working on relaxing my shoulders during the whole run, just repeating the mantra “relax, relax, relax” will do wonders, just try it. You will do better when you are relaxed. In fact to go faster, you don’t need to try harder, just relax.

5. Start off slow and run slow until your turnaround point. I know, Steve and I repeat this over and over and over again. But I cannot stress enough how important this on your long training runs. Running slow will allow your body to transition to fat burning about an hour or so into your run. Once you are burning all those Pringles and pizza away, you can run an ultramarathon or longer. But most runners start out to fast and consequently are operating off the sugars in their system which burn out quickly and consequently you bonk and are stumbling along like a junkie looking for their next “gel/sugar” hit. Once you get to the turnaround point then increase your lean, for a slightly faster run back in.

6. Use body glide or vaseline on any area that rubs. For me that means, all around my groin area, between my legs, between my butt cheeks, my nipples, and underarms. I’ve experienced the alternative far too many times and it is painful.

7. Have a conversation with someone you don’t normally talk to. Always a fun goal for me. This will help hours of your run fly by. I have had some of the best conversations of my life on long runs.

8. Say “good morning” to all you pass. This sends positive energy out to the universe and what we send out we get back a hundredfold.

9. Its okay to walk. Remember it is a training run. So if you feel any pain or real discomfort, slow down, walk for a little bit, then start running again. I have seen too many runners in three seasons of coaching try to run through pain which has only aggravated or created injuries. When you feel pain, it is your body sending a VERY IMPORTANT MESSAGE to you, so listen to it, slow down, and figure out what’s going on. This is a training run, so the goal is to stay healthy for the marathon. So if need be screw your “time goal”, “pace” or whatever notion you had in your head of what you were going to do that day and LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

10. Practice some spirituality out there. Some simple things I do for this include:

Look at birds.
Pray to God.
Thank my ancestors for sacrificing so much for me to do this.
Think of heros that had a lot of strength like Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
Just feel grateful

Hopefully these tips will help you on your long runs this weekend. I look forward do running with all of you.

Namaste,
Gary

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