I recently recieved an email from our of our athletes who is training for her first marathon. She has done two half marathons – her first last year! It was a huge accomplishment and I’m still so proud. After a good amount of training, she decided it was time to go for the full.
She just had her first 15 miler – longest distance yet. It was a bit of a struggle for her and I know this is common for a lot of people taking on a new distance. I wanted to share some words of encouragement for anyone else who is entering this new territory. She in fact suggested I write a post regarding this topic.
7 Ways to OWN your long run:
1. Remember why you are here:
Think back to why you wanted to take on this new adventure in the first place. Are you running for a cause? Running for your health? You want to be brave and give yourself a challenge? When negative talk creeps in you must think about why you are here in the first place. Remember why it’s so important to you and truck on.
2. Focus on the End Result:
The number of miles can be daunting. Don’t dwell on it before or during the run. Instead, try to focus all of your thoughts on how this run will make you feel when you finish. How you are doing something you’ve never done before. How this gets you ones step closer to your ultimate goal. How you will be stronger for this.
3. Stay in the Mile:
This little nugget will help you through not only the long run, but hard workouts, short runs and the race itself. Sometimes even a 3 mile run seems long and it’s important to be just where you are. If you are running 17 miles for the first time ever- don’t think about how long it will take you to get to mile 17- think about where you are right now and be present in that mile.
4. Break Down the Run:
Find a route where you can break things down into segments. If it’s 20 miles, I like to break it up to something like 7 miles, 7 miles, 6 miles. You choose what works for you and go with it. This is along the same lines of “staying in the mile”. Beyond staying in your mile, stay in the stretch of the run you are in and don’t even think about that next one until you have arrived. Each time you complete a segment- it’s another victory.
5. Don’t anticipate the Hurt:
Chances are at some point in your long run your legs will get tired and your body will tell you that you are a crazy person and you should stop. You might question your reasoning behind even training for the distance. BUT, one thing you must not do- do NOT anticipate that the hurt will come. First of all- it might not come and second of all if it does, you can handle it. DID YOU HEAR ME? You CAN handle it. Buck up and handle it. You’ll be happy you did.
6. Hydration & Nutrition: (before, during & after)
This is HUGE HUGE HUGE. If you don’t pay attention, it will effect you. It’s not fun if you let yourself get dehydrated. In fact, it might lead you to believe that you are less prepared for the distance than you actually are. If you aren’t properly fueled, your body will tell you NO. As a distance runner, it’s important to always be hydrated, it should be a part of your routine to always have water on you. In days leading up to the long run- especially if you are new to the distance, pay extra close attention. Both Glenn and I like to drink an electrolyte/water combo throughout the day – especially in days leading up to a long run or hard workout/race. Pay attention to what you are drinking during your run- drink often and even when it doesn’t feel totally necessary. Evaluate how much you are eating- are you taking in enough calories before and during the run? Everyone is different and it’s important to know your body and do what you specifically need. There is NO one size fits all plan here. It is so easy to get sloppy and let this slide. Don’t do it.
7. Don’t let the Long Run Steal your Joy
Perhaps the most important one on the list. If you are all caught up in worrying about your long run, worried about how bad it will hurt and if you can finish, the joy of running is lost and you’re totally missing out on the whole point. Because the truth is you CAN do it. I’m telling you, it’s hard sometimes, it just is. But it’s almost always worth it.You have to decide if it’s right for you though. I think there is a lot of pressure to take on the longer distances. The marathon in particular. While I personally do love the marathon, I’m here to say, if training for that distance steals the joy of running from you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a runner, but not a marathon runner.
You have to do what works for you. And I really just want to encourage you to put your blinders on and don’t worry about what everyone else doing. Do what you love.