Full on marathon season is beginning to kick in and many runners are at the peak of their training plans. The long runs are really long. Tiredness levels are high and running really is taking over lives. When those long runs get really long it’s easy to panic and doubt that you could possibly run another 6, 8 or 10 miles on top of what you’ve just done. It can feel impossible and even seasoned marathon runners can have a confidence wobble.
If this is you, then I want to share some tips with you. I’m at exactly this point in my training. 18 tough miles run yesterday and a 20 mile planned for next weekend. This will be marathon number 11 for me. This certainly doesn’t make me a pro but I have ‘been here’ a few times before. I haven’t done a marathon for four years and I had honestly forgotten what a battle it can be. I had to have a good stern word with myself yesterday after that 18 miler and remind myself of the following three things:
1. It’s meant to be hard. Why should running further than you have for a long time feel easy? It’s not going to is it?! This is what training is about. You need to push yourself out of your comfort zone and experience discomfort, be stretched and struggle in order to get stronger. Twinges, niggles, heavy legs, tiredness, it’s all normal and part of the process. If the run is easy then you aren’t getting as much benefit from it. Don’t be afraid of feeling uncomfortable, yes, it’s horrid but it’s necessary.
2. So much of this is in your head. It’s really important to know that a huge part of running a marathon is about mindset. Those negative voices telling you to stop are inevitable, they’re going to happen. It’s how you react to them that makes the difference. Being prepared for them and having your responses ready helps so much. ‘Hello Doubt, I knew you’d make an appearance today. I’m actually fine without you and don’t want to hear what you have to say. I’m too busy speaking to Invincible over here. Bye.’ These long runs are the perfect opportunity to practice your responses and be one step ahead of the running gremlins. For more tips read my How to Keep Going When you Really Want to Stop Running blog.
3. A training run is not race day. Remember that you’re doing this long run after weeks of increasing your miles, alongside keeping up with everyday life. You’re tired. Tapering is a wonderful thing! You will be in a completely different place after a couple of weeks of reducing your training intensity. Your legs will be fresher and you will be rested. You will also have the atmosphere, the supporters and the other runners alongside you. Event day is a totally different thing to running solo along a canal path with no one feeling or acknowledging what you’re trying to achieve. Trust your training and you will amaze yourself.
When the long run doesn’t go well
If your long run really didn’t go well at all then step back and think about the reasons why that might be.
- Was your pace easy enough? ( I probably went too fast yesterday)
- Did you take too big a step up in miles?
- Did you fuel and hydrate enough? ( I had enough fuel but probably should have drunk more water yesterday)
- Had you had a difficult week outside of running? Life can be very tiring
- Were you just not in the right frame of mind?
Remember that some runs are just hard and don’t go well and there’s no apparent explanation.
Do not let a challenging long run mess with your head and your confidence.
This is normal. This is fine. You can do this.
This is #mymenopausemarathon. If you’re perimenopausal and finding running extra hard then have a look at my Run Through the Menopause Course I’d love to help you regain your running confidence and navigate through this challenging time of life.
Featured image: drjulietmcgrattan.com