I don’t know about you, but for me, the thought of doing a Sunday long run in unfamiliar territory, 20 km plus, can be enough to turn me off traveling. The thought of compromising arguably the most important run of the week, especially for a marathon runner, is a non negotiable. Knowing you have to find road or trail that is long enough, safe enough from traffic and other undesirables like stray dogs, being sensitive to local culture, finding terrain that is similar to your usual running route and running without your usual training buddies, can seem like a stride to far and not worth the bother. Over recent years I have developed some thrifty strategies to help me through a Sunday long run in places that have been overcrowded, over heated and remote.
Before I explain my tips, I want to explain the title. I thought I was super thrifty using the word thrifty as it’s definition is to careful with resources, which you need to be when organising your long run in unfamiliar surrounds. That’s not the bit I thought was super thrifty! The thrifty bit, so I thought, was that thrifty also meant moving quickly, so my thrifty title had a double meaning – how thrifty! Turns out, the closest definition thrifty has to moving quickly was to thrive physically, I suppose this works, to some extent, but not really what I was going for!
Thrifty Tip 1.
Where possible, arrange trips when your long run might not be at its longest. Perhaps you have just had a race and get an easier training week, maybe your nursing a niggle so your training load is reduced or perhaps you just deserve some lower mileage runs to allow your body to absorb all the work you have been doing. Sometimes a long run reduced by just 10 minutes can be all it takes for your mind to believe its manageable.
Thrifty Tip 2.
Bring a friend or family member who is willing to run part of your run with you or join on the bike. The key with this strategy is to get them to commit to joint you before getting to your destination, that way, they can’t back out when they’re feeling relaxed or they realise it’s really hot. Knowing that you will have company is super helpful in getting up, getting started and getting through the run.
Thrifty Tip 3.
Before leaving for your trip, scout out the place you are visiting. Check it out on maps and ask yourself, where are roads, how far do they go, are there parks or rivers nearby, how far is it to get from your accomodation to a particular landmark? All important information that will help you plan a route that help you cover the distance on long run day. Get to your destination with a plan so that not having a plan or not knowing where to go doesn’t become an excuse.
Thrifty Tip 4.
Investigate local running groups, are there squads, Strava profiles or a parkrun (parkrun’s are obviously on Saturdays which doesn’t really help your Sunday long run, but there may be a similar initiative in the place you are visiting), that you may be able join for part or all of your run.
Thrifty Tip 5.
Know the weather and the sunrise and sunset times. It can be a balance between finding the right temperature and running in daylight, but the more prepared you are the better decision you can make. Again, this takes away another reason you may have to opt out of your long run. I also suggest checking this information before you travel so you know you can access the internet, overseas and remote areas may have difficulty with service range or connection to the internet.
Thrifty Tip 6.
Strength of mind and resolve is an important skill to develop any running event (and life for that matter too), so using your Sunday long run as an opportunity to build your mental capacity is a positive. At least if you reframe the challenge you will see it as a positive. Use it as an opportunity to recognise that when you race you are in unfamiliar territory and by yourself, so experiencing this in training can only be a good thing.
Thrifty Tip 7.
And if all else fails, check that your accomodation has a treadmill and arm yourself with some damn good podcasts or latest episodes of your favourite tv series.
On further reflection of my title, perhaps I was just confusing thrifty with swiftly, swiftly would make more sense in a running context, but that wouldn’t really help my thrifty title!
This blog post was inspired by and dedicated to my biking buddy and companion on my recent long run on Coconut Island, Thailand, thanks for the 6 laps of the only road on the island!