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?