Ten Tips for a Successful 18 Mile Run

This Sunday’s run will be LONG.  If you don’t know what it feels like to “hit the wall” and want to find out, ignore all of the recommendations Craig and I are providing below.  We guarantee you’ll feel absolutely terrible somewhere around mile 15, if you even make it that far.

So, now that we’ve got your attention, here are the 10 tips for a successful run.


  1. Carbo-load. Increase your carbs toward the end of the week, especially on Saturday.  Examples of good carbs include bagels, oatmeal, baked potatoes, rice, whole grain bread, and fresh fruit.  Consume these extra carbs throughout the day, rather than all at once at dinner.
  2. Hydrate well. Drink plenty of water throughout the day on Saturday so you start out well hydrated on Sunday morning.
  3. Get a good night sleep. Go to sleep early on Saturday and wake up Sunday feeling refreshed.
  4. Put “recovery food” in your car. After a long run, it’s very important to get liquid, carbs, and protein into you as soon as possible.  If you don’t, your body will continue to break down muscle tissue, and you will be hurting big time on Monday, and probably a few days after that as well.  Chocolate milk is highly recommended.  Put a bottle in your car, in a small cooler if necessary.

Sunday Morning Before the Run

  1. Eat breakfast. If you don’t eat breakfast, you’ll run out of energy some time between mile 6 and mile 8. There have been a number of times this season when I’ve been running with someone who’s cruising along at a comfortable pace when about an hour into the run, they tell me how they suddenly started feeling really tired.  My first response is “did you eat breakfast?”  The answer is always “no”.  By then, it’s too late.  You have to keep running to the next station, and after you eat there, it will take a mile or two until it kicks in.  That’s a long time to run feeling lousy. Don’t be one of those runners.  Eat a “good carb” breakfast.
  2. Be sure you have the right clothes. If the 7-day forecast is right, it will be chilly in the morning, and quite warm by the time we finish. Be prepared to leave your layers at one of the water stops,  carry the extra clothing as you shed it, or buy something at a thrift shop that you don’t mind tossing to the side of the road when you no longer need it.

During the Run

  1. Eat and drink at regular intervals.  Have your first snack no later than an hour into the run, and eat something that’s primarily carbs every few miles after that.  Don’t wait until you are already out of fuel.  Depending on what you eat, it can take at least a mile, often more, before you feel the effect, so be sure to eat before you are tired and hungry. If you choose GU,  drink water with it, and not Gatorade.  Also remember that you will be sweating for at least 2 1/2 hours, and possibly as long as 4, depending on how fast you run.  That’s a lot of fluid and electrolytes to replace..  Drink plenty of water; and if you didn’t already have GU, drink Gatorade as well.  Ideally, take a water bottle with you and have a few ounces every mile or so.
  2. Pace yourself for a negative split. If you feel full of energy when you start, great.  Don’t spend it right away.  Invest it. Go easy for the first few miles and save that energy for the end when you’ll need it.  Think “negative splits” – the second half of the run should be faster than the first half.  Check your time at Mile 9, and calculate your pace.  Your time from Mile 9 until the finish should be at least a few seconds per mile faster. Or, just do it by total time.  If it took you 1:30 to get to Mile 9 (that’s a 10 minute mile), try to finish the second 9 miles in a little less than 3 hours.

After the Run

  1. Keep walking. As tempting as it may be to sit down the minute you’re done, don’t do it.  Your muscles need some time to wind down so they won’t cramp up or feel stiff.  Walk around for a few minutes.  You legs will thank you the next day.
  2. Refuel & Rehydrate. Drink that chocolate milk you kept in your car as soon as you can.  Then, eat lots of carb and protein and drink plenty of water throughout the day.  You just ran 18 miles, and your body needs to repair itself.

And one last thing – be proud of yourself.  Eighteen miles is a huge accomplishment!

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