As many of you know, I ran through 36 weeks of my pregnancy with Easton but my long runs got cut out about 27 weeks. My body wasn’t responding as well and so I knew anything over 10 miles was out of the question at that point.
As my Boston Marathon training has picked back up, one of the most intimidating runs for me is my long run. Endurance has been the hardest for me running postpartum. Thinking back on running longs runs have always been one of my more stressful runs because I always worry about how my body will respond.
Long run fears are very normal, in fact it is probably what is most intimidating for many who start marathon training. The distance itself of a marathon is one that takes work and respect. The long run is often one of the most important because it trains your body to get used to running for a longer period of time.
Even though the distance may be intimidating, it doesn’t have to be! Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks to help make the distance seem a little less daunting.
One Mile at a Time
You hear that phrase a lot, but if you really treat your long run in that way it can make a big difference. Each time I go out I don’t focus on how far I have to go, instead I just focus on one mile at a time. You can’t get to the final mile without going through the others, so there is on reason to look too far ahead.
This is another great way to focus on the marathon itself, so by practicing this during training you are helping to not only strengthen yourself physically but mentally as well.
Try New Routes
Doing the same route over and over again is never a good idea, but doing the same route over and over for your long run is even worse. Try new routes and switch up where you run. During the peak of marathon training my husband and I will often go stay with one of our parents in order to get a new area to run in to break up the scenery.
Having a new place to run helps to break up the monotony and can allow you to focus on the new scenery instead of the same old thing you see every day. Sometimes you have to do a little more work, but it’s worth it!
Find Someone to Run With
Having someone to run your long run or part of your long run with can make a big difference. My husband and I often would run the first part of long runs together during our warm up. It’s also helpful to have someone meet you at a certain point because it gives you something to focus on getting to.
Even if you have a friend running a shorter distance see if they can meet you a little ways in. It will help break it up and the time will pass before you know it!
Don’t Always Run an Out and Back Route
I’m guilty of this a lot because out and back routes are easy to plan out, but they also can be intimidating because once you get to your turn around you realize you have to run the entire way back again. Try finding a route that doesn’t repeat itself. Sometimes this can make a big difference and will make you feel like you are making more progress towards your end goal. It’s a simple thing that can go a long way.
Change Up Your iPod
One thing I like to do before long runs is to add a bunch of new songs to my iPod. This allows me to have something to look forward to. Sometimes a new song can get you in a rhythm and make you excited to go out there and put in the miles. Finding songs that correspond to your cadence is fun too and can help keep your legs moving even when you are feeling tired.
Use Your Treadmill
Wait, what!? Yes. I said it. The treadmill is often looked down upon, especially for long runs. However; they can be a great training tool. Treadmills not only allow you to have everything at your finger tips but you can also hook up your TV or iPad and watch movies or TV shows to help pass the time. I did a lot of long runs on the treadmill when we were in Pennsylvania and while it did often seem long it also helped to greatly increase my mental toughness. The tricks you use to get through a long treadmill run are the same ones you can use on race day to get through the toughest miles.
It’s also fun that when my husband and I both do long runs together on the treadmill we can run side by side. Since we normally are at different paces, this is a nice incentive!
While it is sometimes easier said than done, relaxing makes a long run so much more enjoyable! If you want to do a few simple tricks during your run to help relax: take a deep breathe, relax your shoulders, and look straight ahead. Focus on getting to the next point and don’t worry about what’s to come.
Work a Race into Your Long Run
I haven’t done this in quite some time, but a great way to break up your long run is to work in a race. Find a local 10k or half marathon and use that as part of your long run. You don’t have to go all out and race it, but being around others in the race can help the time go by much quicker. Plus, sometimes you can use it as great workout to help you get ready to race.
They biggest key with long runs is to not make them more than they are. They can be fun and enjoyable if you don’t get too much inside your own head and relax. If you stress about it them it only makes your training less enjoyable. Go out there and have fun!