By Paul ... So we are now approaching the business end of training for the 555 challenge grand finale – the London Marathon. 8 weeks tomorrow, both Louise and myself will be lining up with 40,000 other lunatics in Greenwich to put our minds, bodies and souls through the ultimate physical challenge … 26 miles and 385 yards across London to the finish line on the Mall. So as the evneings get longer, so do the long runs that anyone training for London has to do at the weekends. The 13 mile half marathon distance has to be considered now a mere warm-up and the weekend slogs need to start stretching up to 20 miles to prepare the mind and body for the challenge that lies ahead.
Completing these long training runs is no mean feat. In fact, it is possibly an even greater challenge than running the marathon on the day itself, as you don’t have the adrenalin of the event, the crowds and the support to get you round, rather just yourself, maybe a running partner or two, and your own self-motivation and determination to go pound the pavements.
Touch wood, I do feel in good shape with this element of the training at the moment as I have an 18 and a 19 miler under my belt over the past couple of weeks. So I thought I’d share a few top tips and random ramblings that have been bouncing round my mind to pass the time of day on these long runs.
1. Run with friends
I do most of my running alone as with a young daughter, getting out at lunchtime at work is my best opportunity for regular training and synchronising a busy workday with like minded runners in the office is never an easy task. So, it’s usually Me, Myself and I for the regular 5 mile lunchtime loop .. all together now, aaaaah! I have recently discovered though a local running club / group via Facebook and am really enjoying the company on runs whenever possible. Having a chat or just following the pack definitely helps the miles tick by far easier, so wherever possible, trying to combine your long run with a group outing is definitely a good idea, even if they are only along for some of the ride
2. Run as far as you can away, and have a reason to run back
A tactic I regularly use for the long run is to just keep running as far away from the final destination as possible, so the journey back means your target distance has to be achieved. Even better is to add an incentive or necessity at the end destination. For example, a couple of week’s ago, it was simply the need to collect my car and daughter from an overnight stay at Nanny and Grandad’s as we had been out the night before for Valentine’s Day. The red wine indulgence of the night before made this a particularly more difficult run, but no car and, more importantly of course, no daughter at home meant I couldn’t back out with any hangover excuses.
3. Leave the cash at home
If you use tactic two, try to avoid carrying any cash, just in case the temptation to grab a taxi or bus when you have put yourself miles from the destination should suddenly creep up on you ;0)
4. Fuel, fuel and fuel again
If you are running anything past 10 miles, you really need to be implementing a refuelling strategy, so I will always take on a long run with gels and drinks to consume in the same quantities as if I was doing the marathon itself. The gels are easy enough to carry, got myself some snazzy running shorts with a net style pocket across the bum for that, but the drinks not quite so. I will therefore plan the run with some shops on route and enough loose cash for a lucozade sport or two, but still not enough for that bus or taxi home!!
5. Embrace the pain
When you get past 13 miles, think of every stride as helping not hurting, because ultimately you are just prepping the body for London and micro tearing the muscles to rebuild stronger, so pain is in fact good … as long as it is not too much pain of course, let’s not get sadistic here!
6. Shake it out to some top tunes
I read once in a marathon psychology book that when you think you are a spent force, shaking your arms and visualising the last drops of energy being summoned from inside to the extremities to keep you going can help revitalise you. It felt a bit odd to do it at first, I’m not your touchy feely, earthy kind of guy, but I have found it to be a technique than can really help. I combine it with giving myself a little pep talk when the going is getting tough and popping on a favourite tune to bounce along too. I do try to do this in quieter areas of the route, for fear that the passing public otherwise get scared by the odd running man mumbling away to himself like he has tourettes syndrome, whilst pumping his arms frantically to the beat of David Guetta’s Bulletproof, in a desperate attempt to convince myself that I am in fact Titanium
7. Don’t give up, no matter what
The ‘let’s just stop now’ thought is bound to cross your mind at some point. That feeling that you’ve done a decent distance and you simply can’t do any more. That feeling that there is always next week to get the distance done. Before you let such feelings grow and take hold, replace them with this reality … simply starting any long run will have required an immense commitment itself, not only of time, but also of mental and physical energy, so remind yourself how much you really don’t want to have to do all of the miles you have already completed today again to get to this point where you can actually finish and tick off the ‘long run’ distance you set out to achieve … it would be far easier to go finish it now that you have got so far, no matter how much you are are hurting, I mean ‘embracing’, than have to start again from scratch some other time!
Tell us your story
Inspire and be inspired by sharing your health or fitness journey. Your blog will provide you with a permanent record of your progress, with the added bonus of motivation and encouragement from our members along the way.* Manage my blogs