This coming weekend is the epic 20 mile run for many people who are training for Chicago. Others will be doing theirs soon for other upcoming marathons. Whether your training plan calls for your longest run to be 22, 20, or 18 miles I wanted to share some of my own helpful hints to get you through those miles.
Break it down in your head. If you start thinking about this long run as one giant trek, you are going to mentally drain yourself long before your body is exhausted. You need to remember that if you followed a typical training plan you have slowly built your body up over the last few weeks to handle these longer runs.
Remember when 15 miles seemed daunting? When tackling 17 miles seemed impossible? At this point you have likely already accomplished those and you probably surprised yourself with how well your body handled those miles. The key is to trust your training. Trust that the plan you were on has helped prepare you to be where you are now.
Play mind games. Sometimes instead of thinking of, “1 mile down, 19 more to go,” I do little math games in my head. I might say things like, “We just hit mile two. If I were to head back now I would already have 4 in the bank.” Or I think of miles in terms of numbers of songs. Usually I can get approximately 3 songs in per mile. So I might hit the 10 mile marker and figure I have the opportunity to pick my favorite 30 songs to get me through until the end. As I continue I count down how many more songs remain.
Don’t forget to fuel and hydrate. In some ways this long run is your chance to have a dress rehearsal for the big day. Now is your opportunity to make sure you eat the breakfast you plan on for the race. Don’t forget to bring your fuel on the run and to hydrate as you go. Do it just as you plan to on race day. This will help prepare you for what to expect on race day and hopefully boost your confidence about your game plan.
Be your best running buddy. Expect that some miles are going to suck. Others will be great. But definitely plan on having some tough ones along the way. This is the chance to be your own coach. Talk yourself through the hard times and be your own best friend. Don’t get down on yourself but instead coax yourself along and remind yourself of all of the positive things you have done along the way. Simply saying things like, “Good job,” or “You have totally got this,” will subconsciously push you past what you might think is your limit.
Misery loves company. Enlist the help of friends or a running group. Especially in larger cities or areas with running communities you might find that local running stores or programs have group runs. Don’t hesitate to join one. There are almost always pace groups for everyone and if I know anything about runners we are a loving and accepting breed. We are always happy to have others join us, regardless of what your pace might be. Having company along the way makes the time go by much faster and will definitely make your run easier.
Turn a negative into a positive. If things don’t go as you had hoped, remember that it is okay. A bad run can be a great learning experience. Now you know that you can make it through and if you find yourself in a rough patch on race day you know that it will get better. Use this experience as a way of knowing you can get through anything.
Anyone doing their long run this weekend? What is your best advice for surviving the long run?