I love doing long runs. Last spring when I was in New York I wasn’t training for anything yet, but the weather started to change for the better and I just couldn’t get enough of the weekend long runs. It isn’t strange for me to head out the door and somehow come home 17-20 miles later. There is just something about that long mileage that makes this run nerd happy.
But that wasn’t always the case. When I first started running, 3 miles was a real pain for me. I dreaded a lot of them and counted down until my next day off. I still remember the first day I went out and managed five miles. I felt like a running badass. I felt like I had conquered the world. From there I was slowly able to increase my mileage and not too long after that I managed my first ten miler. At the time though there were a lot of water breaks and I took fuel on “long” runs that now are what I would consider manageable without.
The long run is just as much a mental feat as it is a physical one. Technically a long run is considered anything over an hour and a half but personally I believe that for new runners a long run is anything over five miles. Let’s face it, those first five are tough and anything over that seems like a marathon as you begin. As you become more seasoned it is best to stick to the rule that runs under 45 minutes are short, runs between 45 minutes and 90 minutes are moderate and anything over 90 minutes is long. It also depends on what you are training for. Marathon training long runs look a lot different than half marathon long runs but that doesn’t necessarily make them any easier, especially for beginners.
On the physical end of training it is important to remember that if you are using a well thought out training program, your body should slowly become accustomed to these longer runs. As the program progresses your body will be better able to manage longer mileage. Therefore if you use a training plan you should continue to find each longer run just as or even more manageable than the last. I’m not saying it will be easy but your body should begin to handle each run more efficiently as you become a stronger runner. This is why it is important to stick to your plan and trust that training. It is basically running science. This stuff works for a reason!
The mental side of training can be a tough one. We can be our best friends or our biggest downfalls. For some reason I would have Taylor Swift come in here and start singing, “Doubters gonna doubt, doubt, doubt.” And once you do that, its almost game over before you get going. The best thing you can do is distract the heck out of yourself and be annoyingly positive. You know those yoga teachers that tell you to smile during planks? Yeah , you basically need to do that.