Who’s afraid of the big, bad, long run?

Enjoying going long!
Enjoying going long!

I started to write a post about hydration, since that’s the suggested topic for this week’s Tuesdays on the Run, but I have to admit the subject didn’t really grab me and really, what could I add that the 20 or more other bloggers won’t already throw out there?

So I took a cue from some of the recent comments on my blog & other running blogs I read instead.

Do long runs make you nervous?
If I were running a marathon, yeah, I’d be petrified. 20 miles or more? Are you freakin’ nuts? It would take me all day! And that’s just a mild exaggeration.

And if you’re running a particular distance for the first time, I totally get that fear, too. At the start of a training cycle you’re staring at that training plan and you see 3 or 6 or 10 or 12 or whatever distance you’ve never tackled before and it’s terrifying.

It’s just another reason I enjoy running in a group. Usually around the 7 mile long run you see the switch turn on in a first time half marathoner’s brain: maybe I can do this. I don’t know what it is about that distance; it’s only a little more than half the race, after all, but there’s something about it that’s just empowering.

Even for me. I remember dealing with some IT issues a couple of years ago — much, much worse than what I’ve dealt with this summer. I was already signed up for my running group, but I wasn’t yet signed up for a fall half. Because I seriously didn’t know if I wanted to do it in pain — again — not after a disastrous spring half.

But I ran that first 7 mile long run and knew I could do a half. I found one, I signed up, and I got myself a shiny new PR (back then).

Trust your training
I do. Before this past week’s 10 mile long run, my group had already run a couple of 7 milers, a couple of 8 milers & a 9 mile long run. So 10 didn’t bother me. It was just 1 more mile. And I’ve run 10 miles plenty of times.

But I was surprised to learn that both the ladies I ran with were nervous about it. One of them has run a marathon! The other, on the other hand, got injured before her first half last year and wasn’t able to run her race. And she’s older than me (actually, they’re both older than me). I could understand her fear.

I didn’t feel nervous at all. Maybe I’m getting overconfident, but I don’t think so. I trust the training. I’ve put in the miles, even though it’s only been 3 x week for the last 5 weeks. But I’ve shown up for all the important runs, I’ve pushed myself, and while I wouldn’t have been able to just go out and run 10 miles a couple of months ago, I’m ready now.

I definitely felt like I could have kept going this weekend. It’s a nice feeling. It’s a confidence booster. Even better, the next day I didn’t even feel like I’d run 10 miles.

I still have to be cautious. On more than one occasion injury has reared its ugly head in my taper. And of course not all long runs feel that good. Maybe there’s something to this running 3 x week . . .

So, no, I’m not afraid of the big, bad long run, but I’ll continue to be cautious and try very, very hard to listen to my body.

Here are several tips if you are afraid of your long runs:

  • Break it into chunks (3 5ks, for 9 miles, for instance)
  • Think about how far you’ve run, not how far you still have to go
  • Dedicate each mile to someone in your life & think about them during that mile
  • Run the mile you’re in — don’t think about anything but the mile you’re in
  • Do a little I spy: count up red cars, bunnies, deer — anything to take your mind off the run
  • Look back at your training journal and the runs you’ve already completed

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What’s your relationship with your long runs?

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23 thoughts on “Who’s afraid of the big, bad, long run?

  1. I always worry, just a bit, even for a short run. Confidence is not my strong suit. Long runs? I’m a total wreck. Every time. But so far I’ve done them anyway. 🙂

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  2. Great tips! The long run can be so mentally challenging! I remember being nervous about running 7 and 8 miles when I was training for my half marathon last year! I think having someone to run with on those runs can really help take your mind off of the distance. I try to distract myself in any way I can, usually with music or podcasts.

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  3. 20+ miles….that would scare me, I think. But if I was running with friends, it probably wouldn’t be too bad. You’re right….7 miles is the magic “I can run a half” decider.

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  4. I always run them alone so I find it challenging. I don’t think I have ever said that one went well. But all that matters to me is the distance not the time and that will prepare for my halfs.

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    1. Really? You never felt one went well? I have had terrible long runs, but I’ve had great ones too (like last week). I guess because I race less than you & run long more often. As long sad ultimately you’re enjoying yourself; that’s the most important part!

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  5. My fear is usually weather related (like Wendy). I have 21 miles on the docket Sunday which I plan to divide into thirds, just for my brain to compute. But, it will be probably 75 with 95% humidity at the start. I don’t even want to talk about how it will feel at the end.

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  6. I’m not there yet with the long runs – they are still a way off in my half marathon plan but I have to admit that when I saw the long runs in my plan I did freak a little. I love your tips though and I’m going to try and remember these on every run, not just a long run.

    Happy running lovely x

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  7. Long runs always make me nervous. I was nervous this past weekend just running five miles because I haven’t done it since February! (I was four miles max all summer.) But I know I can do it, and just mentally break it into smaller segments. Running in a group helps, too!

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  8. Anything over 13.1 used to make me nervous, but since I started using run/walk intervals I actually look forward to them. And yes, even the 20+ mile runs! The funny thing is that even with :30/:30 intervals it hardly affects my time, and that’s just odd considering that you’re walking for half of the run!

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