Whether you are training for a 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon, marathon or ultra-marathon… your mileage is going to be increasing over the course of your training plan. The long run tests us mentally and physically. It sure isn’t always rainbows and butterflies (well, every now and then I get one of those magical long runs where I feel like I am on top of the world) but there are things you can do to help you rock your long run!
1. Just do it. Just start. Don’t think. Don’t dwell. Don’t worry. Just get out and start. Nobody likes a complainer.
2.. Bring in the troops. Whether it be people to run with, your dad to follow you in the jeep while it is dark and cheer you on (thanks again Dad for all of those runs), your bff to send you a motivational quote at a certain time or your kiddos to bring you a water bottle. Your people want to help you achieve your goals so let them.
3. Put your favorite comedy on your phone and listen to it while you run. I have a friend that swears by this… he would put his favorite comedies on for the long run and because he has seen them 400 times he was able to visualize the movie while listening and laughing. Podcasts, books on tape or Netflix (Friends—> I’m looking at you) shows are also fun to listen to if you are one to bring your phone along on your long run.
4. Do it at whatever time you want (if your weekend schedule is flexible). It is nice to practice starting your long run at the same time as your race starts BUT… something I learned this last training cycle was to do it when I wanted. If you can only do it at a certain time then obviously stick to that but if your schedule is flexible then run with the best temperatures and a well-rested body. It is amazing how much better your long run feels with an extra hour of sleep. If you run your best super early in the morning then go then. Don’t feel pressured to do it a certain way because everyone else does it that way, do what is best for your body/schedule/life.
5. Count. When you are getting into those last few miles of your long run and you are tired mentally and physically… try out counting. When I am really toast I start counting my steps or side walk cracks or poles that I pass by. It doesn’t take a lot of brain power but it sure does distract me from thinking about how tired I am.
6. Don’t you dare attempt your long run in a piece of clothing that you know is going to chafe you or shoes that are going to leave you with blisters. Wash your favorite running clothes in advance, make sure your shoes don’t have too many miles and have everything out and ready to go long run morning. Not a lot worse than feeling the beginnings of chafing when you still have 14 miles to go on your long run.
7. I LOVE It when I can combine a race and a long run… i.e. training for a half-marathon? Why not run a few miles for your warm-up and finish with a 10k and a mile cool-down if you have a 10 miler on the schedule. Gotta love the course support and adrenaline from races and the more races that I do the less nervous they make me feel.
8. Don’t let social media get into your head. It’s hard to not compare our training plans to what we see online but you just gotta stick to what is right for you, your goals, your body and your season of life. If so and so is doing higher mileage/more 20 milers/faster splits/no fuel/less rest days… that is fine! They are doing what is right for them and you keep doing what is right for you. We are all in different places with our training and you do the long run distances and paces that are right for you free of comparing yourself to your instagram peeps.
9. Take time to research/ask around/explore for the prettiest places in your area for your next long run. Yes, it is convenient to just leave from your front door and do the same routes you do every day but if you have some extra time on the weekends then maybe drive somewhere new, beautiful and exciting!
10. Plan your routes (if you can) to mimic the race day course. FYI if you are running Boston in a few months try to include long runs that start with a downhill and end with some nice rollers. Talk about some physical and mental preparation for your upcoming race.
11. Remember… it isn’t easy for anyone. Completing the long run each week makes us pretty hardcore.
12. Let go of the perfection attitude (something I really need to work on with my running). If you don’t hit a certain pace… who cares? If you aren’t killing the hills… it is okay. Running isn’t our job and putting excessive pressure on ourselves to hit certain splits sure isn’t going to help us out mentally or physically. This next time around I want to focus more on effort than exact paces because sometimes numbers drive me crazy.
13 and 14. Two of my favorite things that apply to ALL runs whenever you are tired—> Repeat to yourself over and over again, “I CAN do hard things” and when your legs get tired pump your arms harder (focusing on your arms will make you forget all about your legs).
15. Think about what doesn’t hurt. During your long run you are going to have a lot of time to think. And that means you probably will have a lot of time to think about what hurts, what is uncomfortable and how nice it would be to just quit and hang out on the side of the road for a bit. If you are in almost injury or injury pain then please do stop BUT if you are dwelling on the little niggles and how tired your quads are then think about the things that don’t hurt. Focus on how strong your arms feel, how your core is killing it or how amazing your calves feel after X amount of miles already!
16. If it is broke, then fix it. AKA the opposite of that ‘if it ain’t broke…’ saying. For me this is fuel.. it is broken right now and once I am doing the long runs again you better believe I will be experimenting around to fix it. The long run makes for the best dress rehearsal for race day. If something isn’t working out for you (gear, fuel, hydration) then fix it.
17. Split it up. I did this in 2014 while training for the St. George Marathon and for some reason it really helped me to get in the long runs really well. I would start on the treadmill and get in a few miles, move to the roads once the sun came up and then finish up the last few miles on the trails with my girlfriends. It turned a 22 miler into 3 smaller runs which made it all much easier for my brain to mentally wrap around the idea of running 22 miles.
18. Save your music for when you will really need it. If you are like me then music really motivates you to get moving. If I start my long run with music then I have nothing to really pump me up for the hard sections because I’ve already been listening to it the whole time. I love to do the first portion/half of the long run musicless and pay attention to my breathing, form and goals for the day and then put in the Eminem/Linkin Park/Justin Beiber for when I need a fast beat to keep me going when I’m fatigued.
19. To go along with #18… have a SPECIAL long run playlist. Put songs on this long run playlist that you ONLY listen to (to avoid getting sick of it and to increase your excitement for when you do listen to it) during your long run when you need that extra boost!
20. Try out a fast finish! Now if you are training for your first marathon/half/etc then I would stick to focusing on completing the distances rather than a certain pace BUT if you are wanting to really test yourself try out a FAST FINISH long run. This type of long run builds endurance, leg resistance to fatigue, it works out your mental game and it helps you to practice race pace. They will also help you to train your body to negative split on race day! You can read more about them HERE.
21. Remember that long runs are all about time on your feet!! Don’t stress out too much if you need to take a few breaks along the way, stop for the bathroom or adjust your music. I try to avoid stopping for tempo runs/speed work (and if I am doing a fast finish but I cycle those in with steady state long runs too) but on the long run you are really training your body to be on your feet for a while and to learn how to use glycogen and to burn fat stores effectively for long periods of time.
22. Enjoy it. Take in the scenery. Listen to your breathing. Feel your blood pumping and your muscles working. You are CHOOSING to do this activity. You GET to run and run long.
And like always, I’ll share some tidbits from our Sunday.
We woke up to some more snow. Brooke might be a weatherwoman when she grows up because she goes straight to the window each morning to check out the current conditions.
Church—> Brooke read (well, she repeated what I read to her) the scripture in front of the whole primary. She rocked it.
Much later on I locked myself out of my house and my car. Luckily Brooke was with my mom because waiting outside for awhile didn’t feel super great.
Dinner at my parents’ house and Brooke told me she wanted pb toast more than a brownie? That is true pb love.
I have to share the growl that my nephew makes when he wants more food.
My niece treats me real well and makes sure I am nice and cozy.
PS I love Mary Jo in her Donut top! Check out her awesome post about indoor track tips!
-22… I have no explanation why but it has always been my goto number.
Favorite long run distance? The distance that feels just right for you.. not too long and not too short? Also, what are your long run tips?
-I think right around 16 is my happy place.
Do you ever use an indoor track? Do you have any close to where you live?
What was the best part about your Sunday?