How to conquer your first long run

Step up the mileage and breeze through your first ever big run with our long distance running tips.

How to conquer your first long run

Plan your loo stops

If you haven't had to make an impromptu toilet stop during a run yet, then you’re one of the lucky ones. As you run further, your body requires more water and more food, which inevitably leads to more toilet breaks. When plotting your long run make sure you have a local pub, café or even a friend's house en route so you don't get caught short, or be brave and prepare to pee in the great outdoors.

Pack a bag

Longer runs require more kit, including water, snacks and a post-run warm layer or two, so invest in a good running backpack and familiarise yourself with running with extra gear. Come race day you won't need to carry all your essentials on your back, so you'll instantly feel lighter, which can work as a bonus!

Take loose change

Don't forget to pack a couple of quid or your bank card. If your long run doesn’t go to plan, you feel unwell or you’re in need of extra energy and want a bite to eat, a back-up plan is always a good call. If you pack a rucksack with all the essentials you might not need any of these things, but being prepared won’t hurt.

Plug in

The headphone debate is a contentious subject in the running world, with some runners championing the sound of nature and others relying on a funky beat to keep them moving. Both options have merit, so it's up to you to decide what suits you.

But if you're brand new to the world of running, during your first forays into the world of long distance, a well chosen podcast or your favourite playlist can provide a handy mental distraction. Just make sure you can still hear oncoming traffic.


A great trick for mastering your first long run without getting lost is planning a route from one place straight to another. Run from work to home, or hop on a train a few stops out of town and tick off the miles while using your finish line goal as the ultimate motivation.


Water is an essential accessory in a runner's routine, especially when taking the leap to longer distance. Drink a pint or two one to two hours before your long run, and be armed with either a bottle of water and electrolyte tablets or electrolyte drink when you go further afield.


Eating enough food to give you ample energy to take on higher mileage is essential. Eat well the night before your long run and tuck into a carbohydrate-rich breakfast an hour or two before you head out the door, such as this quick banana porridge. Pack some easy to digest snacks, fruit or sweeties to take with you, should your energy start to wane during the day.

Eat on the run

When you exercise, the glycogen stores in your muscles become depleted. During your long run, without a substantial refuel this can lead to tired muscles and, in severe circumstances, you might end up hitting the dreaded wall

One way to keep your energy levels topped up is to snack while you bank the miles. A variety of easy to digest gels and energy bars containing everything your body needs are available from most running stores.

Training runs are the perfect time to experiment before race day, so get stuck in. Energy requirements differs for each person, but we recommend taking one gel or bar every six miles and seeing how you feel. For more nutrition tips try our long run nutrition guide

Beat the chafe

Chafing is a runner’s worst nightmare and often synonymous with long runs. There's nothing worse than getting into a nice hot shower after clocking up those miles to discover in horror that your body has been rubbed to bits. Read our five chafing nightmares runners should avoid, apply vaseline or the equivalent liberally before your long run and pack some emergency plasters.

Make it social

Long distance running can be a solitary sport and while many runners enough spending time alone on the road, if you're new to the game you may benefit from the support of a friend.

Running in a group or as a pair will make the time pass quicker, and maintaining a chatting pace is also a useful tool to ensure you don't start out too fast. Sharing a post-run lunch with a friend also gives you a treat to work towards during your run.

Be prepared

New goals and bigger challenges come with higher walls to climb. As your body adjusts to longer mileage and more time on the road your journey won't always be a breeze, but that's completely normal.

If you need to take walk breaks on your first few long runs or shave off a few miles while your confidence grows, do it! There's no shame in doing what works for you. Before you know it you'll be nailing those long runs with ease.

For more long distance info, visit our Marathon Zone

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