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8 Tips to Make Your Long Runs Easier

Get ready for your marathon

By

Updated June 16, 2014

Your long runs can be the most challenging part of your marathon training, especially as the mileage creeps towards 20. Follow these tips to make your long runs easier and more comfortable, and get you prepared for marathon day.

1. Avoid Chafing

Male runner using sports band, running on windy road through mountains, wearing hi visibility top.
Mike Harrington/Taxi/Getty Images
Wear Cool-max or synthetic blend socks, shirt, and shorts that wick away moisture. Use Body Glide, Vaseline, or similar anti-chafing products (on feet, under arms, between thighs, nipples, etc.) to prevent chafing and/or blisters.

More: Prevention and Treatment of Chafing

2. Stay Loose

Arms and Abs Stretch
Some runners get tense in their shoulders and arms when they start to get fatigued, leading to neck and back pain. You can prevent tensing-up and slouching by shaking out your arms and shoulders regularly. Also, make sure you don't ball your hands up in a tight fist -- that tightness will radiate up your arms, to your shoulders and neck.
More: How to Avoid Tension While Running

3. Rethink the Mileage

Runner Outdoors
Photo by Janie Airey / Getty Images
Mentally break your course into smaller sections. Your 15-mile run will feel much more doable if you break it into three five-mile segments. Once you get to the 12 mile mark of an 18-mile run, think to yourself, "OK, just under 10K from here."
More: Mental Tips for Your Long Runs

4. Nothing New on Race Day

Gu Energy Gel
Photo courtesy of PriceGrabber
Start experimenting with different foods, such as energy gels and chews, and clothes so you can figure out what works for you. The goal is to find your favorites now, so you're not trying anything new on race day.

More: What Should I Eat During My Long Runs?

5. Take a Walking Break

Man and Woman walking
Don't feel guilty if you stop or walk to get the fluids down during your long run. Many people walk through water stops in marathons. And taking a short walking break gives your running muscles a quick rest, so you'll feel more energized and refreshed when you start running again.

More: How to Do the Run/Walk Method
Can I Walk During My Runs?

6. Find a Running Group

Group running
Christopher Futcher
Running with other people make your long runs easier and more pleasurable. Chatting with a running partner definitely makes the time go faster, so your run won't be as mentally challenging. Look for running clubs or join a charity team in your area.

More: How to Find a Running Group

7. Run on a Softer Surface

Trail running
If possible, try to run on a softer surface, like a hiking trail, for at least part of your long run. A dirt path is gentler on your body than asphalt or concrete, and running on it will help you recover faster after your long run.

More: Where Should I Run?

8. Staying Hydrated is Critical

Women running with water
Zia Soleil

You must make sure that you're getting proper hydration throughout the long run, especially when running in the warmer weather. You can carry fluids using a hand-held water bottle or belt carrier.  Drink for thirst - when you feel yourself getting thirsty, take 4-6 mouthfuls of water or sports drink.

More:  Hydration and Nutrition for Long Distance Runners

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  5. Tips to Make Your Long Runs and Marathons Easier

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