The countdown to fall marathon season is on! I have less than six weeks left before running the Chicago Marathon, which means I still have four long runs left.
In the past I really struggled with long runs. I didn’t enjoy them in the least. At one point the only way I could get through a long run was to rely on someone else to push me to the end. If I headed out solo for one of these runs, I often found excuses to stop or push it off until the next day or week.
When I decided I wanted to train to attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon (read how I qualified for Boston), I knew I couldn’t rely on the company of others to get me through those grueling long runs because I wouldn’t have them with me in the race. I also knew that I had specific paces and workouts to complete in order to reach my lofty goal.
While I do sometimes still struggle to get out the door, I’ve reached a point where I no longer struggle to finish long runs and I actually prefer running them solo for the most part.
Whether you’re struggling with your long runs like I did or you just need to refine your current pre-run routine, here are three things to do before your next 20-mile training run:
1. Treat the day before your long run as a special day. Treat yourself well by eating healthy, foam rolling, doing some light stretching, hydrating and relaxing a little bit more than normal.
2. Visualize the course you’ve mapped out for the run. Envision running it relaxed and completing the distance/workout with ease and confidence.
3. Make an itinerary for your night and morning so everything goes as smoothly as possible. It will also help prevent you from procrastinating and will get you out the door and on the road sooner! Below is a sample itinerary:
- 9:00PM layout all long run gear including fuel, money, metro card
- 9:15 PM: charge GPS device and ipod
- 9:20 PM: set automatic coffee maker
- 9:30 PM shut down electronics; get ready for bed
- 10:00 PM read a book in bed
- 10:30 PM : lights out
- 6:30 AM: alarm
- 6:35 AM: get out of bed and eat a light breakfast
- 7:00 AM: get dressed
- 7:15 AM: dynamic warm-up/foam-roll
- 7:30 AM: Time to RUN!
This may seem excessive, but this leaves you with very little to think about. You just follow your itinerary and head out the door before you can start to form any negative or self-defeating thoughts. I also recommend doing this on race day to ease your nerves.
Run long and run happy!