Long runs are something everyone should try to do in their life. Long runs have many benefits. It helps to build stamina, speed, and mental toughness. It can be called as a building block for effective training. Whether you are new in running or a 1000 miles runner, the long run is very much essential for any training programs. It is a fundamental tool for helping you to reach running goals.
A long run can be called a prolonged run, which is done mainly for increasing stamina and endurance. Mainly the time of the long run is about 60 to 120 minutes or maybe longer. Running for this long time helps to run at an easy pace. If you are slow in running, continue that without huffing. What varies between one long runner to another is the difference in the training goals, fitness goals, motivation, and other athletic activities.
For the beginners, the start can run up to 7 miles, and for experienced, it can be up to 16 miles or longer. When you are experienced, you will able to shift from a slow runner to a fast runner and will be able to finish the long run faster and stronger than you did for the first few times.
Benefits of the long run
A long run can give you benefits that can be provided by other runs also, but it will be more evident in long runs since you spend more time running on feet. Long-running helps to improve your running ability. It helps to make your running more efficient by improving your speed and reducing the risk. Some of the benefits of long-running are:
- Strong muscles: when you are running for a long time, it can strengthen the primary muscles like gluteus, quads, and calves. It can also strengthen the connective tissues and improve your respiratory system, including the diaphragm and core muscles.
- Stronger capillaries: One of the important benefits of the long-run is, it can improve the capillaries. These capillaries are the smallest blood vessels of the body and are important for nutrients and oxygen transport around the body. If there are more capillaries around the muscles, more oxygen and energy will be transported to the muscles.
- Bone strength: The main advantage of the long run is, it is slow and will not put too much pressure on the body like intense running exercises like speed works and fartleks. Adding more distance in the running in a gradual and slow pace will stimulate the bones to produce more tissues, making them stronger and denser. Studies show that in runners, the weight-bearing bones of the spine, legs, and pelvis tends to be stronger than in a person who spends most of the time sitting.
- Improves Heart: Long runs will improve the respiratory system and the working of the heart. Thus the flow of blood will be more and more nutrients, and oxygen will be supplied around the body, provides more energy to the body. It also helps to remove the toxic and waste from the body, mainly through the exhaled air.
- Boost mitochondria: Mitochondria is an organelle in the body that use oxygen to convert carbohydrates and fat to energy, which helps in ATP production. The production of mitochondria improves to about 75 percentages at about 2 hours of running.
The need for fuel during long runs:
For runners, food is more than just nutrition. It is also a fuel. You cannot avoid fuelling in long runs. During long runs, a lot of carbohydrates and calories are burnt. You have to take the appropriate food for long runs, or else it can affect your body.
The muscle cells of our body have two main sources of fuel. That is sugar and fat. The dietary carbohydrates are broken down into simple glucose, which is a form of sugar, and it is circulated in the blood to provide energy to the cells. The glucose which is not required readily is stored as another form of sugar, glycogen.
When you start running or any other heavy exercise, the body will take glucose initially from the blood and then from the stored part. Fats are broken down to fatty acids and other components before muscles use it.
The stored fat is an excellent fuel source because everyone has a larger amount of it. And one of the advantages of daily running is that you can use fat in a better way. The good foods will help to run stronger and longer. Likewise, the wrong fuel can hold you back, can slow you down, and can cause digestive problems. If you do not take snacks in between the run, you can feel nausea and dizziness.
Type of food needed for long runners
Depending on the weight, distance, and speed, the long run can burn about 2000 to 3000 calories. Even if you are taking more calories than usual during running, remember that you are also burning many more calories. Skipping a fuel will be against the weight loss goals and can make you more hungry and exhausted after the run. There are several sports nutrient products for long runners like waffles, caramel, energy drinks, etc. But it is good to use natural products since it can provide the best and more nutrients required for the body.
The natural alternative for fuelling will be suitable for long runners who are in a diet and want to have a proper diet. You have to remember while long-running, you cannot take heavy foods, which will make you full immediately and will make you exhausted easily. Some of the most appropriate natural fuels are dry fruits, nuts, and honey packets. These are easily digestible and also provide sufficient energy. And these products are cheaper and budget-friendly than the other packed foods.
Dry fruits as fuel during long runs
Dry fruits are a good choice as a fuel since they are high in calories, which can give you more energy and barely feel like you are eating something. Since the dried fruits are preserved, they have more energy-dense than their normal counterparts. Dried fruits like raisins are as effective as sports jelly during prolonged workouts.
Another dry fruit, dates are rich in natural sugars and potassium. So it can be considered as a sweet and energy-giving a choice during the long runs. Dried cherries have a sufficient amount of carbohydrates, rich in fibers that will slow the digestion. So it is better not to take a large number of dried cherries since it can make you hungry easily.
Eating a few will be good. Raisins are more preferred since they are less fibrous, have carbohydrates, and cheaper. Dried pineapples can be taken; this helps indigestion. Some of the other dried fruits consumed during long runs are dates with coconut oils, which are good for health; dried apricots with some almonds, which are rich in iron.
For the knowledge about four Medjool dates can provide 72 grams of carbohydrates. Dried –dehydrated apricots bring a rich source of iron, vitamin A and C. And raisins are low in sodium, cholesterol-free, and are full of antioxidants.