Run Long the Right Way

5 Oct

At 2pm on a Sunday I’m finally out the door and on the road. I’m going long again. For the past several weeks that’s meant 20+ miles. My heart isn’t in it any more. I’ve told myself that it’s burnout, but I’m starting to suspect there’s more to it than that.

I’ve gotten brazen. Lazy even. I roll out on to the roads when I feel like it. I put in the time, eat, a meal and take a nap. I shrug off my wife’s praise of the effort I put in. It doesn’t feel like I’ve done anything special. Maybe it doesn’t feel that way because I haven’t given the long run its due respect.

Are you in the last weeks of marathon or half marathon training and approaching burnout? Read this post to learn where the REAL importance of a weekly long run lies, it may be just what you need to recharge late in the game.

Developing your Racing Ritual

The weekend long run (for those training for a half or full marathon, or more!) is more than putting in the miles to stretch your fitness and endurance. It’s also about training your mind and even your stomach for race day.

Make the long run a ritual. Do the same thing each week. The same meals, the same amount of sleep, the same time of day. Treat it like you would race day. Establishing consistency in your routine will take stress out of race day and as much variability as you can remove for your race the better. You won’t worry about if your stomach can handle pasta sauce the night before. You’ll know.

Make it Yours

Make changes as needed, but approach it scientifically. Go slow. Change only a little at a time. The long run is your chance to experiment. Nothing says just because GU works for someone else that it’s going to be good for you.

Things I’ve Forgotten About How to Approach a Long Run

-Eat good food. Food is fuel. You can’t perform/train well on junk. This is especially true the day before and the day of a long run. Avoid greasy, fatty food those two days or anything you know upsets your stomach.
-Hydrate like a madman/woman. Start the day before. Pound some water as soon as you wake up.
-Train your body to run at the same time (ideally the time of the race). This I cannot do, but I believe it is helpful if it’s possible. Oh, and being a “night person” (which I don’t believe any of us are cut out to be btw) isn’t an excuse to avoid running in the morning. You’re going to have to do it race day, train yourself to run long in the morning.
-If you are going to consume anything race day, you need to consume it on your long runs… don’t throw your stomach a curveball on a day that you’ve got a lot of extra stress and excitement. (this includes beer JL)
-Recover right. Protein. Carbs. Consume food within 30 minutes of finishing. Lots of water. Ice baths. Whatever you need. Do it every week. (I went from zero miles to marathon in 5 months and I swear ice baths EVERY week after the long run was a big key to my success)
-Don’t be afraid to make changes. Nothing works universally for everyone.
-That said, there’s a lot of things that come close to working universally with everyone, so start there.
-Find veteran runners and talk to them. Learn from their mistakes. Ask them about what mistakes they made in their training early on.
-Be proud of the long run. No matter how hard it was. Don’t worry if it wasn’t as long, hard, or fast as previous workouts.
-Think about why you run while you’re running long. You’ll have lots of time to think. Fill that time with positive thoughts. I used to dedicate the last miles of every long run to family and friends. For that mile I would think about them and what I appreciated about them. Nice things I could do for them. I’d pray for them. I want to get back to that.
-Find a trusted training plan and stick with it. If you reflect afterward and decide it wasn’t ideal, then try something different next time.
-Listen to your body. Walk. Stretch. It’s okay to take a break from running to do these things. You’re running for 3 hours for cry out loud, it’s not going to hurt your time that much and the reset that it provides your legs will likely shave off time in the end.


If can’t hold a conversation, whistle, dance a little jig, then you’re working too hard. Look around. Notice the changing leaves, smell the wild prairie roses or the strangely sweet and welcome smell of cow manure.

Philippians 4:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

BUT if you can’t do that, don’t beat yourself up. Everyone has long dark miles. It is what strengthens the sense of community on race day. You’ve all endured the trials and experienced the reverence of beauty in private and have made it to the moment you’ve been training for. Remember how wonderfully satisfying race day will be and press on. Even when you’re along on long country roads, you’re not alone. We are out there training with you on our own stretch of that road. We’re pulling for you.

One Response to “Run Long the Right Way”

  1. JL October 5, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    Dude, this is so right on. I have consumed beer a few times before running, I called it the beermosa. In fact, I even shot a video once –

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