Regardless of what distance you run or what terrain you do it on, all us distance runners tend to have one thing in common - the long run.
It might seem that every blog we write, starts or finishes with a variation on this point. But we really can't overstate just how important properly testing out your kit in training is! Everything from your running shoes to your head torch should have been used for multiple training sessions before even considering it for a race.
The best approach with new kit is to first test it out on short runs (or round the house first for shoes) and then when you are happy start using it on your long runs. Then and only then can you start to add it to your race pack!
The long run is about much more than just testing out your kit, it's also about building up your lungs and legs for the rigours for running. While you can develop an OK aerobic base with shorter runs and tempo work, the long run is unrivalled when it comes to improving your fitness.
Time on your feet is a phrase that gets thrown about a lot by runners but not many appreciate just how important building up foot and joint strength is. You are only as strong as your weakest link and for a lot of new runners who are looking to run impressive distances, their biggest weakness is not their lungs or their muscles but their feet and joints. And the best way to strengthen that weak link is to slowly increase the distance of the long run, though just standing up more in general will help too!
When it comes to nutrition you should aim to treat each long run as a scaled down version of a race. Fuelling up before, refuelling during and something to aid recovery afterwards. And just like with your running kit, you can then start experimenting with new timings, products and servings to see what works best for you.
The only real way to build up the kind of mental tenacity and endurance that you need for long distance running is by doing plenty of long distance running. There are short cuts and no other way, you just need to know that you can do it. Come rain or shine you can and will keep going. The cold and wet conditions that you are likely to experience in the winter months are even better for building this mental endurance.