In the beginning I think the most exhausting part of running, isn’t one foot in front of the other it’s the never-ending dialogue in your head about when to stop and when to keep going. It seems relentless and endless and it is probably one of the more intimidating parts of taking on long runs as part of your training schedule – because you have to listen to that voice for an extended period of time. And who wants to do that?
But just beyond those nauseatingly boring conversations is the best bit about long runs, the part where you forget that you are running, the part where your mind empties itself of all of your frustrations and stresses and there’s nothing but the rhythm of your feet.
So how do you get from A to B?
1) The first part is simple. And hard.
Don’t pay attention to the voice. It’s there, it’s not going anywhere for now and you can’t really do anything about that, but you don’t have to take it on board. Notice it, sure and then let it go. Decide what you are going to do before you go and don’t accept anything from that internal voice other than what you planned to do (barring injuries or emergencies)
2) This is a bit of a trade secret, only I don’t know why it is!
It’s ok to walk. Everyone walks. In fact, you’ll often find that a strategic walk break will give you a quicker overall pace because you are giving yourself a break before you actually get tired. And once you are actually tired, it’s a bit late for a break. if you get concerned about walking too much – use set run/walk intervals so you are getting the balance right.
Long runs are not the day to push the pace.
Long runs are the day to feel rejuvenated by your running, so don’t be tempted to race your watch for the latest PB. Keep it comfortable and don’t rush it. If you are feeling wiped out or ravenous after a long run, chances are you were running too fast. This is the day to completely take the pressure off yourself, enjoy running and enjoy your walk breaks.
Break it Up
Almost any run I do, I don’t think about the total distance. I think about it a kilometre at a time or I break it up into 4km chunks. Because 4km is easy and mentally I can get on board with running 4km, even if there are a few 4km runs after that.
The voice that says you can’t, can be trained to say you can.
When you are slogging your way through your own tough mental resistance, keep in mind it’s temporary. You prove that voice wrong enough times, it starts to lose its power and it slowly gets replaced with a very different voice. In the meantime, change the way you think about long runs. Think about them as adventures. As opportunities to explore. As time to yourself.
And if that doesn’t work, just think about the coffee and/or wine at the end.