Settling in for the Long Run

My run included 2 miles of very peaceful trails along the river.

My run included 2 miles of very peaceful trails along the river.

I ran 14 miles this past Sunday on a chilly, yet very sunny, eastern Pennsylvania morning for Big Sur training. I’ve tackled a 14-mile run only once before- last September- while keeping my cousin and friend Lindsey company on a long run for their first marathon. But last Sunday was the first time I’ve ever tried the distance solo.

I’m actually a big fan of solo long runs. I might not be saying that when it comes time to run 18 or 20 miles but for now, and in past half-marathon training cycles, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I get a lot of thinking done during these runs- about work, my family, friends, this blog, what I’m going to eat post-run and everything in between. I also listen to music and am guilty of singing along out loud during my run. While the time spent during the long run is enjoyable, it can only be made possible by properly preparing yourself mentally beforehand, in my opinion.

So, how I do this? I look at a long run kind of like a long car ride. You know it’s going to last awhile. You also know you need to pace yourself, don’t go too fast to avoid burning out, but don’t go too slow to prolong the time spent traveling longer than necessary. While it’s tempting to look at your speedometer during a long car ride to see how many miles you have left, the same can be said about constantly checking you GPS watch during a long run. It’s like asking, “Are we there yet?”

Instead of the fervent watch-checking and constant song-changing, opt to settle in for the ride. That’s what I tell myself at least, in preparation of a long run. I know it’s going to be long, I know it’s going to take a lot of energy but I know it’s going to be a fun and probably memorable ride so I settle in to my comfortable pace, sit back and enjoy as the miles fly by.

How do you mentally prep for a long run?

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13 thoughts on “Settling in for the Long Run

  1. I’ve been trying out new locations for my solo long runs, otherwise it’s the same loops near home again and again (which is fine with the club group). A new place definitely keeps it interesting.

    • Absolutely! I did that too this weekend with a new add-on to my long run route. It helps for the time to pass because even if you mapped it out ahead of time, you still have to figure it out on the road. It’s an adventure!

  2. Oh gosh so true! I always map out my route before I go so I know I will hit my distance, and don’t look at my time/pace til I get home. I am also a solo running fan! Love just rocking out to girlie-pop and collecting my thoughts!

    • Same! Honestly, on a long run, pace doesn’t concern me. As long as I get the mileage in, that’s what matters. And if I get to rock out to a few Tay Swift songs along the way, it’s bliss!

  3. I do my long runs by myself most of the time. At first, I didn’t think I’d be able to run 16-18-20 miles solo, but when the time came, I really enjoyed having those hours to myself. Sometimes I would listen to an audiobook, other times just music. And I definitely broke out in song more than once!

    • Good to know it is possible to do those super long runs solo! I am totally with you though, it’s nice to have some alone time.

  4. How do you deal with fuel and water on a long run like this?

    New to your blog.. love it! I am just starting to train for a 10K in June and half marathon in October (BAA Distance Medley). Looking forward to following along with yours!

    • Hi Emily! I’m glad you found my blog and best of luck with the BAA half! I’ve never done it but have only heard great things about it!

      As far as fueling goes, a good rule of thumb is to refuel every 45 minutes. So, if you’re going out for a long run, whether you like gels, chomps, real food or whatever kind of sports nutrition you want to try to fuel up every 45 minutes.

      As far as water goes, everyone is different. I didn’t take water with me on this run but I will probably take it with me on my 16 miler next weekend. Even though it’s winter, and you may not feel as thirsty as in the summer, it’s still really important to hydrate on long runs. Also, I’d suggest drinking something with electrolytes after you finish your run to replenish those lost during your run. For this you can try gatorade, or I really like Nuun (a natural hydration supplement) and you can even try chocolate milk because it’s a great source of calcium, electrolytes and sugar!

      But, keep in mind, everyone is different. What works for me, might not work for you so the best thing to do is try out some different fueling strategies until you find the perfect fit. Hope this helps!

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