In marathon training, the ‘long run’ is a vital part of training. If you are training for your first race, you may not be concerned about finishing in a certain time, rather you just want to be sure you finish period. In which case, doing speed work isn’t necessary. The long run however, is a necessity. You need to get your body used to being on your feet and moving for over 26 miles! If your longest run was 10 miles or less, your body will not be accustomed to running/walking for 26 miles and it will take a beating, you could even end up with an injury.
This also applies to the half marathon. If you have just been going on 3 mile runs, it will make the race way harder than it needs to be!
The long run is my favorite run of the week. (Although when I’m in the lat couple miles I tend to ask myself if I truly do like running long, or ask why I like doing it?? So Regardless, expect the last bit to feel tough). I enjoy a good speed session, but running at an fairly easy pace, and just letting the miles tick by is the best. Not everyone takes to their long run as well as I do however, so I have compiled a list of ways you can enjoy your long run and get the most out of it!
1. Have a pre-run breakfast (which you will also be using as your pre-race breakfast) you look forward to.
Food is a huge motivator! Oatmeal doesn’t make me excited to get out of bed in the morning, but I love bagels and truly look forward to eating them! I also love having PB&J’s (although when I make them, I toast the bread and put a layer of coconut oil on before then spreading the jelly and nut butter). I have oatmeal on occasion, but if I am needing something to get me excited, I go with either a bagel or a sandwich for breakfast. If you drink something hot in the morning (coffee, or tea) making it in a way that is extra delicious also helps. Whether it’s a special creamer, or making bulletproof coffee, or a new flavor tea.
2. An audiobook or playlist you save for long runs.
I love audiobooks! I don’t listen to one for every long run, but when I do, they certainly make the time go by even faster! When I first started marathon training I would listen to music, and made a special running playlist. This helped me look forward to getting out the door. Over time though I got tired of music and realized audible is the way to go! If you are looking for audio books to help motivate you, check out these inspirational running books!
If I listen to music on a long run these days, it’s in the form of a musical. So in a way, I am still getting a story out of it. Also, if I am listening to a Broadway soundtrack, when a song ends and there’s clapping, I imagine people are clapping for me! It’s a nice little boost.
3. Have an outfit you feel confident in.
I love how stylish running clothes have become over the years! When reading Marathon Woman, it made me realize how good us girls have it these days! Wearing an outfit that makes me feel strong and fast helps motivate me to get up and out the door.
This would also work if you have some kind of gadget you are excited about! Like something from this list of marathon training must haves. When I first got my Garmin watch, it made me look forward to running all the more!
4. Find a running route you enjoy!
Two things that make running not enjoyable for me are 1) needing to use the bathroom but am on a route that has none, and 2) not having a clear plan of where I’m running, and feeling like I’m aimlessly running about. For shorter runs it’s fine to maybe not have a clear plan of what your days running route is. But for speed work and long runs, I have found that it makes a huge difference to have a clear cut route planned out. And a route that has bathrooms along the way! Speed and long distance take all your mental strength, so if you are having to exert yourself mentally to figure out which way you should be running, it will make you feel even more stressed and tired. Having a route that is scenic and stress free is the best.
Here in SLC we have the Jordan River Parkway bike bath and it is the wonderful! It’s pretty, and has bathrooms and fountains all along it. It also goes on for like 30 miles, so it’s plenty long! The same can be said for the American River bike path in Sacramento, and in Portland they have Springwater Corridor bike path. And of course in a Santa Monica running route is the beachfront path.
5. Run with friends.
Having others keep you accountable makes a big difference. Plus you have someone to talk to while you’re running for hours at a time!
6. Use a meaningful running mantras.
Mantras are great not only for race day, but also just to get through training runs! These have often helped me get to the end of a run successfully. A strong mantra has been such a key element in my running, that I made a post just about my favorite motivational running mantras!
7. Think of what you like about the long run.
Is the sense of accomplishment afterwards? The food you look forward to eating when you are done? Do you feel pride seeing your weekly/monthly miles add up? Is it the health benefits of running that motivate you? When you feel yourself feeling bleh about having to do a long run, think of whatever it is that you like about it and focus on that to get you out the door and running.
I love seeing my miles add up on my running calendar. I also love when I input my pace for my run. I get such a sense of pride and accomplishment! I also look forward to my healthy carbs I eat when I get home!
I hope these help you revolutionize your long runs from here on out! Check out this other page if you are looking for even more running tips!