Nailing Long Runs

Nailing long runs for many of us is no easy matter. For Half Marathoners the long run is 6 to 10 miles depending upon the training plan. For Marathoners the standard is 20 miles. I talk to a lot of runners and I can’t remember a single time someone said to me, “I’ve got my 20 mile run this weekend. Is that awesome or what? I can’t wait!”

It’s usually more like, “Ugh, I’ve got 20 this weekend. I can’t wait until it’s over then it’s taper time.” In reality 20 miles is a pretty long way, I know. I did 20 today in preparation for the Ocean Drive Marathon on 3/26, 2 weeks before Garden Spot. I’m pretty busy during our event which means I can’t run it.


After many discussions it  seems to me everyone has their own approach to the long runs, their own mental game. There appear to be some commonalities. Here’s mine. Many years ago I was a Methodist preacher and I started running to prepare for the sermons. For me running is a time to replenish myself emotionally, mentally and spiritually. When I run it’s just God, the road and me. Some people listen to music, others listen to lectures, some let their minds drift. For me the physical benefits are a just icing on the cake or if  you’re from Amish Country, gravy on the potatoes. In general long runs are “me” time. That’s something to look forward to. To nail your long run develop an approach.

Focus Your Energy

Some runners use self talk to get themselves ready. Others just set their jaw in determination and hit the road. For me it’s a time of worship and I’ve talked with others who say that same thing. I start every run with “God my God, May the steps of my feet, and the breaths of my lungs, and the beats of my heart be found by you to be worship.” That makes every run bigger than me. (btw: i’m not trying to convert you, I figure you’ve worked out your spirituality and you can adapt concepts in beneficial ways. As I was running today and thinking about this e-mail I kept asking myself, “what do i do to get through 4 long hours on the road?”). To nail your long run focus your energy.

Keep Moving Forward

If you’ve followed my e-mails you’ll notice that I did a fair job of sticking to my training plan. Consequently, unlike previous training periods when I was much less determined I’ve reached a place where I can just keep running. This will be my 5th marathon and I’ve done a number of halfs. Before now I’ve never run 13 consecutive miles without being forced to walk because my body couldn’t take it any more. Today, I was able to keep running with the exception of when I tore open gel packs and took a hit of water. What I did do was dramatically drop my pace, especially on the hills. However, it was a running motion. Lest you get the wrong impression . . . I’m a big advocate of walking. There’s no shame in walking. Pace doesn’t matter in my book. I’ll be surprised if I complete the entire 26.2 without walking. I was tempted to walk today. Here’s the key, even though I was tempted, I didn’t give into the temptation. To nail your long run just keep moving forward.

Take Your Mind Off the Run

Mantras take your mind off drudgery, aches and exhaustion. Many runners tell me they use them. It seems 3 word mantras are pretty popular. “Just keep running.” “One more step.” Time them to their foot plants. They not only take your mind off the run the help maintain pace. My favorite mantra is “God my God.”  It takes the run to a place that is bigger than me. To nail your long run develop a favorite mantra.

Fuel Up & Hydrate

Nutrition is critical. I’ve struggled with it for 10 years. During my first 26.2 I hit the wall at mile 18. I could barely move. I thought I was going to have to crawl to the finish line. The reason was nutrition. I didn’t eat a thing. This year I just followed the advice on the gel packs and it worked. I’m naturally suspicious of manufacturers recommendations because it seems to me there’s a hidden agenda to sell more product. The gel packs said to consume one every 30-45 minutes. I opted for about every 45 minutes, used one every 4 miles and drank 2 oz. of water. My leg muscled stayed well fueled. All standard well publicized stuff.  At the completion of today’s run it felt like there were another 6.2 in my legs. An hour before the run I ate a mini bagel with peanut butter and honey. To nail the long run fuel up and stay fueled.

Concluding Thoughts

Today’s run turned out to be a really good one. It was long and it was slow but it was good! When it comes to nailing long runs: have an approach, focus your energy, keep moving forward, take your mind off your run and fuel up & hydrate.

This is injury time. As mileage goes up we get tired and it affects our form. It’s easy to turn an ankle, twist a knee, kink a hip or tear a ligament. Be careful out there. Pay attention to your body and what you’re doing. We want to see you on race day.

We’re encouraging you to bring your own gels this year. See our website for details.

We typically get a bunch of late registrations each year from the Endurance Sports Expo but it got cancelled. If you have some friends who haven’t registered, temp them with a Road Apple Award and/or the chocolate milk shakes we have at runner’s recovery.

Only 33 days to race day. We’ll have finish line flowers for sale this year. We have the photo wall and the bells. We’ve added champion stands for photo ops. The shirts are being printed and the medals are being cast. It’s all good.

Run On,




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