You will find that most training plans gradually build weekly mileage and long runs. The slow build up is key to help you get stronger and go further without becoming injured or burned out. Training for a race is difficult at times, but it shouldn’t be torture. There will be days when you sleep through your morning run and the weather doesn’t cooperate for your long run, but don’t hesitate to be flexible and shuffle your runs around. A missed or shortened run can easily be made up by doubling up mileage on your next run. Missed miles here and there aren’t going to make or break your race, but trying to cram in mileage might lead to injury. Just remember not to do long runs back to back. We’d much rather have you arrive at the starting line slightly undertrained, healthy and strong rather than burned out and on the verge of injury.
The long runs included on your training plan will be the groundwork for your race preparation. On these runs your main focus should be covering the suggested mileage and forgetting about the clock. Further distance runs should be done at an easy, conversational pace; stay in your comfort zone speed wise and take walking breaks if need be. Long runs build your endurance physically and mentally, but also help you get accustomed to being on your feet for three, four or five hours at a time to prepare for race day. Successfully building up long runs will help you through the difficult stages in the race and get you across the finish line!
A few suggestions on ways to thrive through your long runs:
- Rehearse your race day routine: Hydrate and eat well the day before. Plan a safe, scenic route with water stops and bathrooms along with way. Test out the running gear and fuel you plan to use on race day.
- Connect with others: Find a group or training partner for long runs. They will help you push through and the miles will roll by much faster!
- Focus on distance: Long runs are about getting the mileage in. Don’t think about pace!
- Get tuned in: Many studies have shown that listening to music can lower your perceived exertion. Trick your mind into thinking you’re not working out as hard as you think.
- Recover the right way: It’s important to refuel within 30 minutes of your long run. While running your miles go ahead and daydream about what you’ll indulge in after your run!