Training Tip Tuesday – Loving The Long Run

It’s eventual, at least if a marathon is in your future. You WILL have to schedule the “long run”. To many, this is scary as all get out.

“But I haven’t run longer than a half-marathon yet!”

Yes, that is probably true. The thought of having to do a 20-mile training run? Goodness!

BUT, before you get yourself into panic mode, breathe. Now breathe some more.

Here are some tips to make the most of your long run.

Run slow – There is not one training plan out there that is going to ask you to run your long run at marathon pace. This is not a “test drive”. Rather it is a test of your endurance. The key is to allow your body to learn what a continuous effort will feel like and allow it to adjust to the work needed to run that far. Don’t be tempted to “run that marathon”. Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy!

DON’T try anything new – You’ve heard it before. This is not the time to test those new socks, or that new running skirt, or that new gel sample you just got in the mail. Testing out any kind of new clothing should probably be reserved for your shorter runs as well as testing out any kind of new sports nutrition (see my note below on fueling). You want to be as comfortable as you can for this undertaking.

Be prepared to walk – YES! It is OK to walk. Give your body a quarter mile or half mile break every 10k or so. Don’t think for one second that you have to run that entire time. Again, you just want your body to understand what it means to just keep moving for a long distance/long period of time. This isn’t race day!


Be prepared to walk.

Just another run – Think of it as just another run. Don’t focus on the mileage. Rather, think this to yourself: It’s a lazy Saturday or Sunday morning. I’m just going to run for a few hours…2 or 3…It doesn’t matter how fast I go, I’m just going to run from 8am until 11am. Then, I’ll treat myself to lunch. Focusing on the time rather than the miles will be way less daunting.



Fuel properly – Yeah, you’ve heard me preach this before. You really don’t need all those sports drinks and gels. Unless it is really hot out, water will suffice for many. And as far as gels go, unless they are all-natural and don’t have added sugars, you’ll find that they will end up weighing you down or upsetting your tummy. I’ll always recommend Energybits first and foremost, but if that isn’t your thing, try natural boosts, like raisins, dates, cuties, a banana, or dried cherries or cranberries. They travel well in little baggies and they will be much more effective then the chemical stuffs. Also, eat what you think you might want to eat before your marathon. Contrary to popular belief, this wouldn’t be a pancake breakfast. I survived my marathon on a breakfast of coffee, a banana, and a P90X bar. This has always been tried and true for me for all my runs over 5K. I brought chia gels and coconut water along for the ride, and an extra P90X bar, but I never needed the bar. You’ll be surprised on what your body can run on. I didn’t find Energybits until after my marathon. But since then, I also take those pre-run and have since ran an entire half marathon fueled on bits alone. I never ran better!


Better option.

Do a Bag Drop – One of the first things I learned on my first, long, HOT, run is that finding water in the middle of nowhere is impossible. There ARE no water stations and no cheery volunteers to hand me a cup of something cold and wet. I only had a two-bottle waist belt and it wasn’t nearly enough hydration for me to finish my first 18-mile run.

2-Bottle Water Bel

2-Bottle Water Belt

I ended up having to call my husband to rescue me. But you can easily solve this by dropping bags of water and/or fuel along your route. Put it by a signpost so you can easily find it, and at mile points where you anticipate you’ll need it most (i.e. near the end). Or if you have a friend along the route, you can ask to use their mailbox to store your stuff, or even a convenience store will do. Just don’t forget to take a few bucks along with you. You can use what you have on you for the first half of the run. Reserve the bag drops for the end. I say this because if you drop stuff any sooner than halfway, you’ll be tempted to use it even if you don’t need it. So reserve it for the second half. Use throw away water bottles so you can drop them in a trash bin along the route. I’ve never had anyone “take” my bag along my route, but I have found a few unexpected visitors of the tiny many legged kind, so ziplocking everything in a plastic baggie, especially on a warm day would be recommended.

Ziplocked fuel.

Ziplocked fuel.

Don’t run longer than your planned Marathon time – In other words, if you are planning to run a 5-hour marathon, don’t run longer than 4 hours prior to your race. If you are planning on running a 4-hour marathon, don’t run longer than 3 hours prior to your race. It’s really not necessary. You’ll just increase the chance of injuring yourself or burning yourself out. There is really no need to do the entire distance before your race. That would mean you’ve already ran your race. Save the excitement and the fanfare for the actual event.

stop watch

Watch your time

Leave some energy behind – In other words, you want to be able to finish this run and say to yourself “I could easily run 6 more miles”. Or “I could easily run another hour” because you didn’t push yourself to exhaustion. You don’t want to come home whooped! You want to have some gas left in the tank.


Leave some fuel in the tank.

Be smart about scheduling – DON’T schedule your long run at 9am if you have to be somewhere at 12pm. Don’t do it on a day where you have to go to work afterwards, or a party, or a wedding. Do it when you know you can get some quality rest time in afterwards. This will keep you from rushing it as well. Be smart. Schedule it on a day off, or a half day, or a day where you can go home and do nothing.


Schedule smart.

Have fun! – I can’t express this enough. You have been working and training so hard to get to this point. Enjoy this! Take in the sights. Pick a course where you know you can enjoy the view and not have to worry about traffic, or highways, or what have you. Learn your neighborhood and scope out a route in your car before you actually traverse it.

Hopefully these little tips will help you get through that long run.

Have you trained for a marathon? What tips do YOU have for us about that long run? Please share them in the comment section!

Disclaimer: These training tips are based on my opinion and what has worked for me. I am not a doctor, or a trainer, or a professional athlete. This blog purely represents observations I have made in my 4 years as a runner. Always consult a medical professional before beginning a running or workout program. I am not liable, either expressly or in an implied manner, nor claim any responsibility for any emotional or physical problems that may occur directly or indirectly from reading this blog.

4 Responses to Training Tip Tuesday – Loving The Long Run

  1. For someone who cannot fathom running long distance, these tips are so approachable it makes it seem much less intimidating. Love how encouraging you are!!!

    • A Running Chick says:

      I’m so happy to hear that I’m helping someone with my tips! Thanks for your support and I’m so happy to help!

  2. These are great tips! Thank you! My only issue is with the fruit suggestion. I love fruit, but I think if ate some before or during any run, I’d be running to the bathroom. It could be a disaster. That’s just me. I do want to find an alternative to Gu.

  3. pugrunaholic says:

    Great tips 🙂

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