The "Long" Long run for the 1st time Marathoner (or the average runner with anxiety about it)
by Nasreen Fynewever
It was the best run of my life. It was not timed with a race chip or witnessed by excited spectators. It was not Kenyan speed or perfected form. It was not a lot of things others might expect out of a noteworthy run, but it was a moment of pride in my running career. The "long" long run that exclaimed to anyone who cared that I could do this. I paid the price; I had put in the work and time. Race day, with all its goals and hype became icing on the cake to this, the "long" long run.
So here it is for you. The calendar shows the date for your "long" long run is upon you and now you must get psyched up for it. Do not dread it, do not avoid thinking about it, and by all means, do not skip it! Pick 2.62 of these tips and give them a try. Be stoked for race day, those 26.2 miles that will make you a marathoner, but make your "long" long run count for something too.
TIPS for Making Your "Long" Long Run a Success Story
1. Plan a course that will mean something to you and makes you go the distance! Don't do laps or circuits of 5 miles; see new stuff at mile 15 than you did at mile 5.
2. Run past a few friend's houses or business. Call them beforehand and ask them to stash some water near the mailbox or door for you as well as a short note of encouragement. The water and the "cheerleading" will be pure gold as you pound the pavement.
3. Run past a few locations that trigger memories for you. Good times or life lessons can quickly melt away a mile or two.
4. Run at a time other people are out running. Watch them. Make up stories about them. Have fun being part of the running community.
5. Plot the course on a map. Yep, go buy a city map. Trace the route in pencil and let your eyes soak in the great distance you are about to conquer. Then go over the route in a red marker once you have rocked it! Show other people how far you hauled your sweaty legs; a map really puts 20 or 22 miles into perspective for them.
6. Plan a reward that helps keep you accountable to finishing all your miles. Do not have the reward in the house already; wait until you finish to buy it so that the whole reward of earning it is felt. Or better yet, add people to the reward, plan a dinner out or catch a movie with friends. Knowing a few of your friends are going to ask about the run later will help you finish it.
7. Dream a little. Dedicate a mile or 2 to dream of a job, an opportunity, the Boston Marathon, whatever. Act like you would if your dream came true, be confident and think through what your life would look like. Pick the miles beforehand and when you get to those miles, unleash your inner day-dreamer.
8. Wear race day clothes and shoes if possible. I know they are "sacred" but get your groove on and have a dress rehearsal for success in your shoes, socks, clothes, and routines.
9. Go to a bookstore a day or two before this run and browse the running section of magazines and/or books. Buy one if you are compelled to but at least flip through and read some expert tips, reminders, and quotes to get your adrenaline flowing. And no, the internet does not count. Get up, get out, and get moving. Be on your feet and physically in a bookstore!
10. Let the strategy, Plan A, B, & C, or whatever you call "it" wait until race day. Yes, it is nice to have a decent time on the "long" long run, but don't create a pressure cooker for a workout that is intended to be a confidence booster. Be free of expectations and just run. Keep running!