The long run looms each week in my marathon training plan. Your long run, might be different than mine, or you might not be even training for anything, but I bet you still have a longer distance run that you do from time to time.
If you are training for something, each week, your plan will most likely be eeking your mileage up, by both cumulative mileage and also the single long run.
So, in my marathon training, my long runs are now in unchartered territory – the longest I’d run before this marathon training plan started was just over half a marathon, 13.1 miles and a bit. Last week, I passed 14 miles, and this week I did 16 miles 😱.
It’s a long time on my feet and I do get a bit nervous when I think about it too much. I know many people love the long run, the slower pace, the head space time, but if it gets in your head (like it does me), here are some of my coping mechanisms.
- Fuel & Fluids
I make sure that I have had breakfast, a drink of water, and a coffee ☕(because coffee is life), and now I’ve started trying out some fancy pants gels on my runs (so far I’ve tried Science in Sport gels). But last week I didn’t have any gels, so I just took a squeezy pouch of kids jelly, I can’t say that it worked any better or worse than the proper job running gels 💁?! But running these longer distances is no longer about fasted cardio, or losing weight, it’s about fuelling my body to do the task set before it. In addition to fuel, you can’t forget about fluids. I also made sure to take some water with me. Often I am running in parks (or at least through them) and there are water fountains, except in the winter they are often turned off to prevent freezing of the pipes, I guess. So I carry my water with me to help me stay properly hydrated.
- Slowly does it
I’m running these ‘beasts’ slowly. I mean my body has never done this before, and towards the end of these runs, I’m feeling all kinds of aches (and mental turmoil 🤯about the aches). But I’d rather get the miles done, rather than injuring myself or burning out, and the only way I can guarantee that is to go slowly. I mean its not #lsr (long slow run) for nothing!
- Variety of entertainment
Just music isn’t going to cut it, neither is just a few podcasts, or just my audio book, and lets face it, my own swirling thoughts aren’t enough either. I need a mixture of media to keep the long run going. I might start out with the audio book, as a nice warm up. Then move on to some peppy music, once I’m feeling good. Then divert to some peaceful silence and my own thoughts to allow me to enjoy nature and the scenery, and finally pop on a funny podcast to distract my mind when the going gets tough and bring a natural smile to my face 😃.
- Tick it off early ✅
And by this I don’t necessarily mean early in the morning, but if that is your bag, go for it. What I mean is, your long run doesn’t have to be on a Sunday, potentially filling your whole weekend with a sense of dread at this impending task. Tick your long run off of Saturday (or even Friday), and feel smug Saturday night and indulge as you see fit, without worrying about your un-done long run – because you did it already.
Often these things grow in importance beyond, well their natural importance level. I mean, it’s just 2 (or 3) hours of your life, and then it’s done. Sure that sounds like a long time, but actually it’s not. I bet you have frittered away that amount of time on far more pointless activities (hello instagram scroll hole) – and it has passed in the blink of the eye. Just visualise what it will feel like when you are done, enjoying your lunch, family time, treats, bath… you know, whatever floats your boat.
As we always used to say at work, what more comes to mind… and here are 3 other things that have been swirling around my little pea brain.
Fret: I’m only running 16 miles so far – and I’ve got to get to 20 miles, twice in my plan
Un Fret: Just take the plan, as it comes day by day, week by week, trust the plan, don’t look too far ahead
Fret: My family are going to get so annoyed with me, always running
Un Fret: Mum guilt is usually only in the mum’s own mind, plus they are probably pretty proud of me, even if they don’t say as much (well they are boys)
Fret: I’m going so slow, what if I can’t reach my goal pace on marathon day
Un Fret: Trust the plan, run slow when they say run slow, the goal is to complete not compete, and who knows what will happen on the day
What about you? Do you love the long run? Does it stress you out? What are your long run top tips? Please share.