If you are anything like me, your best intentions for an injury free and life full of ease leading into your marathon race have been replaced by “Real Life!” Yes, even PTs get injured and right now as I am seeking to manage my own injury (IT band related knee pain), I am also trying to stay on track with getting some key long runs in before my race. This means leveraging my mental resources but also using some tips and tricks to keep those miles flowing without suffering too much or getting bogged down in being too attached to pace or results. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some tips to help keep you moving through long training runs when you’re feeling a bit run down mentally or physically.
Save Your Faves: This may sound silly, but it really does work! Make a music playlist or save an episode or two of your favorite podcasts for your long run so you have some fun audio entertainment to see you through your miles on the road (or trail)!
Be Your Own Biggest Fan: studies have shown that sing encouraging or motivating self-talk can improve performance! Try having a few go to mantras to keep yourself moving and help encourage yourself to success! Phrases like, “Just keep going,” “I am strong, I am tough,” and “Eyes on the prize.” Can help you move through those tough miles.
Plan A Post-Run Treat: This could be grabbing brunch with a friend, a pool date with a significant other, or some self-care from a massage appointment. Having a post-long run recharge and treat can keep you motivated and running your best. Also, thinking about something you are looking forward to can take your mind off body discomfort or monotonous training miles.
Talk it up: Having a friend or family member (or even a trusted medical professional like a physical therapist) to talk to and plan your long runs with can help immensely. From integrating these runs into your training plan in an intelligent way, you are optimizing how you feel during your long runs, reducing chance of injury, and they can help you navigate post-run recovery strategies. This also serves the dual function of keep you accountable. If you tell your friend or brother that you’re going to run 18 miles on Sunday, you are more likely to stick to that distance!
Be Flexible: When planning long runs into your training program, you probably created a plan given your “ideal training” flow. Sometimes life events and stressors like injuries, job stress, or relationship struggles mean that you are not feeling 100% physically, mentally, emotionally, and this can make it difficult to hammer out a long run with all that added mileage and body/mind demand. Be kind to yourself and realize that your overall training is not “lost” if you adjust your long run planning a bit. That could mean reducing a long run by a couple of miles or replacing some of your running mileage with cross training like biking or swimming. It is better to hit a middle of the road training effort than an “all or nothing” version.
I hope some of these tips will help you log those miles! Keep your head up and remember that, though it is important to program in some long runs to your marathon training program not all of them are going to go “as planned.” Staying flexible and retaining the ability to adapt your training are going to make you that much more resilient, both mentally and physically, and will help get you to the start line ready to race! Keep your head up and get those miles in!